Written on the 24 May 2010 by Altitude Communications
The top 4 ways to build a personal brand that will boost your business.
Colours, icon choice, name… these are all important decisions that everyone who has started a business or undergone a re-brand has faced, and while these are very important decisions, with wide-ranging ramifications, have you stopped and thought about your own personal brand and how it’s being conveyed?
Born in this modern era when customers are crying out for personal contact and community, our personal brands that “front” our businesses can make or break our success. Think of international Entrepreneurs such as our very own Dick Smith or Richard Branson and his ever so successful Virgin brand.
Instantly recognisable, the Virgin empire is visible today throughout the world entirely due to Richard Branson himself. Branson has created a brand for himself that suits his personality, his purpose and the direction that he wants both his companies and his entrepreneurial career to follow.
What this means is that Branson can add any number of different corporate brands to his personal umbrella. As long as they fit with his “style,” he will profit from the experience. Think about it, Branson has successfully launched onto the International stage music, credit cards, insurance, airlines, mobile phones, mortgages and even gym companies, to name a few.
Is he an expert in the fitness or insurance industry? No, he’s not. But people instantly trust his new business ventures because they are his, they know the “Richard Branson” brand and they trust it.
Now think about how different things would have been for Branson, if he hadn’t marketed himself first. Stuck in a single brand rut, Branson would have been hard-pressed to expand his enterprises across so many different industries. Could he have done well? No doubt - an incredible business mind like his will always prosper, but could he have built the myriad of companies that he has – I don’t think so.
In fact, in comparison think of a company like Microsoft, which whilst hugely successful – is permanently stuck in the computer software market. This is despite the fact that Bill Gates has other business interests – what are they?? Most people wouldn’t know and this is because the “Bill Gates” brand has not been built (to the same level as Branson’s). Gates, for the most part has hidden behind his Microsoft brand, and his corporate flexibility has suffered.
So have I convinced you of the benefits of a personal brand yet?
I thought so… here’s how you can start to develop and profit from your own personal brand…
1. Make yourself VISIBLE!
The first step in coming out from behind your business brand is to start making yourself visible to your customers. You can do this in many different ways – on your website, in your eNewsletters, advertising material and public relations activities.
Here’s a few ideas…
• Make sure your website includes an “About Us” section with your photo, a bio and any articles and/or e-books you have written on your topic of expertise.
• Ensure that you are very visible in your eNewsletters by including a photo of yourself, a personal message to your customers and your marketing signature.
Don’t be afraid to let them see something of your personality – obviously it should not be too “out there” for your more conservative customers, and try not to display any overtly political, religious or social views or opinions. The best tip is to keep it friendly and relaxed – talk to them as though they are there in person with you. Give them something of yourself and watch how much you get back in return.
• Speaking opportunities – if you have the gift of the gab, look at organizing some public speaking opportunities so that you can maximise your profile to larger groups of people all at once.
2. Let the media know who you are, and what you stand for…
This can be a bit scary as it involves putting yourself out there and standing up for the things that you believe in. If you’re a bit shy, start off small and work your way into it. And, whilst public relations is a great way to communicate your brand and opinions to your potential customers, make sure that you are positioned as the expert of your company.
This is where Richard Branson has possibly had the most success in building his brand – Branson put himself out in a big way and regularly takes part in crazy media stunts! Now, I am not saying that you need to do the same (unless it fits with your normal personality!) but PR gives you the opportunity to set yourself up as an industry expert and get the media coming to you for comments on relevant media stories.
Communicate with the journalists of the relevant media and industry – let them get to know you are available to comment and can help them with their stories. Send them well-written interesting media releases regularly. Make sure you are responsive when they contact you for a comment. Journalists usually work to very tight deadlines and will not appreciate waiting days for you to return their calls or emails. They will simply go elsewhere for their comment – probably to your competition! Be prompt and helpful.
3. Advertise yourself...
If your business advertises, either via traditional mediums or online, then you need to make yourself part of the advertising message. This could be via a personal message, a photo, a quote in the headline or anything else that you can come up with to mould yourself in there. Just be sure to always communicate a consistent message (for example, don’t have your face in one set of advertisements, and then a model in another), and please if you’re going to use a photo – make it a good one!
4. Publish your knowledge
Once your brand and identity begins to form, don’t be afraid to publish your knowledge. Throughout this entire profile building experience, the aim has been to position YOU as the expert in your field, the “go-to” person for media, and the figurehead for your customers. Consider writing books and/or e-books, reports, at home courses or do-it-yourself manuals. Also consider taking part or hosting webinars, teleseminars and workshops on your area of expertise.
You could also position yourself to as a conference speaker, or even hold your own events. Once your customers associate you with your business, they will obviously want to deal with the business that you own because they can trust you.
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