Branding is often seen as some kind of complicated thing or some kind of dark magic that only seasoned advertising executives really understand. Well, since they’re the ones who do all the major marketing campaigns for the likes of companies such as Coca Cola, everyone should do what they do, right? Well, news flash, you aren’t Coca Cola and you don’t have to be. That doesn’t mean that you need to play it small. Nor does it mean that you have to have a cheesy, unprofessional brand. What it means is that YOU ARE THE BRAND!
If you run your own business, YOU ARE THE BRAND! So what does this mean for your branding? Since you are the brand, in order to build your brand you need to invest in yourself. This means having a professionally done head shot to place on your website and to place on all of your marketing materials. Because stock photos of other people on your website don’t tell your customers and prospects anything about you, you need to make sure that you have a great picture of you. If it’s confidence you need, you just might want to invest in taking a training course to learn more about building your confidence.
Any additional ways to build your brand and your brand equity (i.e., value) simply relate to you being you. Not some watered down version of you, not some super business-like version of you, but the real you. Whether it’s in the corporate arena or in high school, there is usually pressure to fit into a certain culture. In order to fit in, you are usually told that you need to act a certain way. I have even read advice about dressing like your boss (which was always hard for me because most of my bosses have been men – and I don’t look that good in a Ralph Lauren button down shirt).
The good news is that you don’t have to do that anymore. The only people that you need to connect with are your clients or your potential clients. One way to ensure that you make a connection with people is to embrace the quirky things about you, the things that make you uniquely and authentically YOU. People don’t connect with perfection: they connect with people that are like them, i.e. imperfect and quirky.
Here’s an example of how quirky, if that is who you are authentically, can make you succeed. In the book called Book Yourself Solid, the author, Michael Port, retells the story of his experience with one of his clients who wanted to know what she was born to do. He asked her about her quirks and unique traits. The woman couldn’t think of anything about her that was quirky or unique. When she finally remembered what she does regularly and what she was famous for among her friends, she knew just how to brand herself.
Another example is when a colleague of mine recently asked me whether she should call herself president, CEO, founder. I told her my honest perspective – it doesn’t really matter. Because it is about you, your personality, what you stand for, not what title you put on your website or business cards.
So don’t stress, just be yourself, and know that YOU are the brand. It’s that easy!
This article was inspired by insights derived from the Book Yourself Solid system. More tools can be found at Book Yourself Solid or here.