The Sower Comment: Last year I wrote about “You Are A Brand”. In this article Seasoned Campaigner takes it to the next level. Please enjoy, learn and share!
Just as building a powerful corporate brand is the key to differentiating a product in the marketplace, and thus building a successful business, so creating a strong personal brand is the key to differentiating yourself from your competitors, thereby ensuring your own success as well as that of your business. Your personal brand determines how people respond to you, whether they listen to you, whether they buy from you, how much they buy, what they are willing to pay, and so on.
You are your most important product! As such, you already have your own personal brand. You might think of it as your image or your reputation. It is how people perceive you; the values, virtues, qualities, and attributes they ascribe to you. It is not a question of whether you should have a personal brand image, because you already have one. Rather, it is a question of whether you choose to consciously create your personal brand or merely leave it to chance.
If you are running a small entrepreneurial business, your personal brand will have as much influence over the success of your business as will your corporate brand. You should very carefully think through how you would like people to think about you, and then make sure everything you say and do is consistent with this image.
There are two elements of personal branding: the promises you make (i.e., the image you project) and the promises you keep (i.e., your reputation).
Promises You Make
Your personal brand makes a promise: “If you buy from me, you will receive a specific value in return.” This promised value will be born from the values, virtues, qualities, and attributes by which you become known. For example, you may want to create a personal image – a brand – of a person who always operates at a high level of integrity, consistently walks the talk, is an exemplary leader, and goes the extra mile to ensure customer satisfaction.
Your decision as to precisely how to brand yourself will have two bases:
1. It must be an accurate picture of the person you are, or the person you are committed to becoming.
2. It must reflect the kind of person who will elicit in a prospective customer a strong response: “I want to do business with this woman or man.” In other words, your personal brand should reduce or eliminate any sense of risk in dealing with you in the mind of the buyer.
Who is your ideal customer? What values, virtues, qualities, and attributes will he be looking for in a supplier of your product? Do you match this profile? If not, do you have a burning desire to be this kind of person? Are you committed to transforming yourself into this kind of person? These are the key questions you must ask yourself when beginning to build your personal brand.
Be brutally honest with yourself. In any relationship, to try to fake who you are is a recipe for failure. To be authentic is to create trust in all of your relationships, both personal and professional.
Promises You Keep
Unmet expectations are the arch enemy of any relationship. This is no less true in the relationship between you and your customers. Your brand as a person is determined in large part by whether you consistently deliver on your promises. Do you keep your word? Do you follow up? Do your words and actions match with the image you want to create – that is, with the values, virtues, qualities, and attributes you claim as your own?
Constantly examine your behavior. When you slip, resolve to get back on track. To build and sustain a powerful personal brand, your message must be an accurate reflection of you, the messenger.
The Whole Package
Pay close attention to your entire image. Of course, your character is of paramount importance. But you make an impact on people in other ways as well. Your appearance – the clothes you wear, your personal grooming, your posture – has an enormous emotional impact on how other people see you, think about you, and relate to you. Your attitude is vital. If you are genuinely pleasant and cheerful in your interaction with others, they will enjoy being with you. They will be more inclined to trust you and do business with you.
Your overall behavior strongly influences the impression others have of you. Be punctual for meetings and appointments. Be absolutely reliable, always keeping your word and your commitments. Should you fail in this area, communicate with the other person as quickly as possible, offering your apology, explanation, and assurance that it will not happen again. Be responsive to the needs of your customers. Get back to them promptly. Develop a sense of urgency. Become a “Do it now” kind of person. Develop the reputation of being the “Go to” person when a customer has a problem or needs something done quickly and well.
Pay close attention to the quality of your work. In the long run, there is nothing that will so determine your success in building and sustaining a powerful personal brand as turning out high-quality work, over and over again and over a long period of time.
There are seven laws of personal branding you must master, if you are to drive your business to new levels of excellence and profitability.
The Seven Laws of Personal Branding
1. The Law of Specialisation. Focus your brand on one specific area of achievement in your work. Avoid diversification. Do not try to be all things to all people. Select a specific industry, product, service, or skill in which you can excel.
2. The Law of Leadership. Become one of the most knowledgeable, skilled, and respected people in your field. Be the very best at what you do. Consistently strive to become better and better.
3. The Law of Personality. Your personal brand must be built around your personality, in all its aspects. The most important part of personal branding is that you be perceived as a nice and trustworthy person. Be pleasant, positive, and cheerful. Treat everyone well, no matter what the circumstances, and always do what you say you will do. Be sure your customers enjoy their interaction with you and know they can depend on you.
4. The Law of Distinctiveness. Once you have created your own personal brand, you must express it in a unique way. Everything you do must be part of the “package.” Sometimes a small factor, like sending cookies to a customer, can brand you in a distinct way. Why? Because no one else does it. Your goal is to be perceived as unique, thus differentiating you from everyone else vying for the attention of your prospective customer.
5. The Law of Visibility. To be effective, your personal brand must be seen repeatedly and consistently. You must be busy and active. Join business associations in your industry and attend meetings. Introduce yourself and hand out business cards. When you call on a customer, introduce yourself to other people in the office. The more you are seen in a positive way, the more powerful your personal brand will be.
6. The Law of Congruence. Your behavior must be consistent, both publicly and privately. Everything you do behind closed doors should be consistent with what you do in public. People should feel that there is complete alignment or congruence between the public person and the private person. Both must be authentic, not merely a false persona adopted for the purpose of impressing or manipulating others.
7. The Law of Persistence. Once you have built your personal brand, you must now sustain it. Never deviate from it. Give it time to grow. Stick with your personal brand through thick and thin until it sets like hardened cement in the minds of other people.
The time and energy you invest in building a powerful, positive, personal brand will pay huge dividends. People will trust you and willingly accept your suggestions and recommendations. They will buy from you more readily, again and again, and even pay more for your products and services than for those of your competitors. They will gladly provide you with referrals, open doors for you, and create opportunities not available to others. A positive personal brand will enable you to more readily secure credit and borrow money.
Remember, “Everything counts!” Everything you do either enhances or detracts from your brand. Every word you utter either adds to or takes away from the quality of your personal brand. Your responsibility is to ensure that everything you do and say is consistent with the perception you want others to have of you. This is the key to building a powerful, positive, personal brand.