Brands are no longer just about corporations.
What is the first thing you think of when I say “brand”? Coca-Cola? Apple? Chevy or Ford? Yes. They are all brands. But so is Gary Vayerchuk or any of the Kardashians. It’s the age of personal branding.
In the last 10 years, branding has had, well, a branding problem. It is misunderstood, maligned, and marginalized. It is also glorified.
Misunderstood: Branding is not selling. Entrepreneur calls it “your face to the world.” Your brand should encompass the essence of what you provide in a way that is easily understood.
Maligned: Branding is not evil – though some people don’t use The Force for good (picture your favorite tantrum-throwing, over entitled celebritant here). Branding is just a way of organizing and thinking about how you present yourself.
Marginalized: Since branding is an intangible, it often falls off the list when you are trying to build a business or advance your career. After all, will spending time and effort impact your bottom line tomorrow? No. But the long-term impact is immeasurable. And that goes back to the reason that branding gets marginalized: hard to quantify the ROI.
Why do you need a brand?
The internet and social media revolutionized the way we do business. Need to fix your sink or research a car? Directions to the party? We all Google it. We rely on the Internet as a handy way to find what we need, when we need it.
The same thing goes when we visit our favorite social media site. We hang out at the sites where all the cool kids are – and the cool kids are almost always the cool kids because, consciously or not, they have a recognizable brand.
So, if you want to be the cool kid around whatever your expertise or market is, then it is time to start recognizing that you are already a brand, whether you are actively shaping the story or not.
Your brand means that people know, like, and trust you. You. Not the company you work for, you. And that is the kind of long-term strategy that means you become the authority that people seek out when they are looking for a product or service associated with your area of expertise. Your brand pre-sells people.
Buying a sales automation system, need an app developer, or thinking of hiring a new sale rep? You Google them.
Everything we do is online. Google is often our primary source of information, including information about people.
If you haven’t already – or haven’t lately, Google your name. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
What comes up? Facebook posts, maybe a few photos. You might not even be on the first page. And if you aren’t on the first page (or maybe second page if you have patient searchers), then you are pretty much invisible. It’s worse if you have a common name or if you share a name with someone who is famous or infamous. *
Building your brand means a higher position on search. While the Google algorithm is top-secret, most agree that a strong social presence, activity on well-regarded websites, and adding a wide variety of content that others find valuable all boost your ranking.
Boost your ranking = greater authority = even better ranking = even greater authority.
As you boost your ranking, more people are helped by your content and insights, so your authority goes up, so even more people pay attention. It’s what is called a “virtuous circle.”
You have something to share, wouldn’t it be nice to share it with people you can help? Smart brands build an eco-system to build trust. become the expert. reach a bigger audience. And when that audience needs what you are known for, they come to you first.
* Let’s face it, if you share a name with someone who is famous for all the wrong reasons, the hole just got a lot deeper for you. Review additional posts – or reach out to me directly and let’s see if I can help.
Work colleagues, potential customers, partners – everyone wants to know who they are working with.
There is a lot of noise out there. Getting the attention of clients is hard. They are bombarded with emails, friend requests, invites to connect.
Everyone asking for something – be my friend, connect – and they know the
When you become a brand, you become the person they seek out for trustworthy information. No pressure. No hype. Just honest, actionable info.
Even if you work for someone else, becoming your own brand is rewarding – both monetarily and psychologically.
Becoming the expert that people know, like, and trust, you become the source that people seek out when they are looking for an expert opinion. Clients come to you.
To stand out as an authority, a resume or LinkedIn profile is simply not enough. You need a cross-platform brand to demonstrate to your customers your knowledge, your trustworthiness, and how you conduct business.
And you need to do this while still doing your day job.
Can you build a personal brand and still have a life?
Yes. But you need to spend some time on the front end to get things set up and get some automation in place. I have developed the CATCH Branding system as a framework to help you get started.
C – Consistent Look.
Create a look and feel that people can recognize as you. Create a simple text logo with your name. Pick two colors and always use them. Put your logo on all content that you create.
A – Authentic Voice.
Be honest and open about your area of expertise. Tell people about what you struggle with – and how you overcame problems. Offer help without being condescending. We are all on this journey and all on different parts of the path.
T – Targeted Audience.
Know exactly who you are talking to. Fitness guru? You are not selling to “everyone” you are selling to “people interested in fitness.”
Better: “pregnant women looking to manage their health” or “18-30 year old males looking for washboard abs” or “50-65 year old men looking to lose weight.” Three very different audiences with completely different messaging. Know who you are talking to and then help that specific group achieve their goals.
C – Creative Content
Be creative when you are helping your audience. The fitness guy might make some serious videos around proper weight lifting techniques, and also create a Pinterest board with easy-to-use fitness flash cards.
Know where your audience is, how they prefer to consume content, and help them achieve their goals with sharable, interesting content.
H – Helping
Reach out to your audience and offer help and guidance. Be the person known for spot-on, kind advice. Give your expertise willingly and often. Offer the helping hand without asking for anything in return. It does pay off in the long run.