Marketing and Branding
When I first had someone tell me I was good at personal branding, I wasn’t sure I completely agreed. But then I thought about it for a while.
I had created the Ms. Category Management blog and was able to carve my niche in the space of procurement. I even had people recognize me at a couple of conferences!
So I didn’t think of myself as a branding guru like Oprah, Prince, or any other super famous star. But in the least, I had made a mark on my position in the industry. I guess that counted for something!
For some, branding is a foreign concept (pretty much like it was with me in the beginning). What the hell did I know? I worked in the lab testing drugs for quality control, then moved to financial planning and analysis and then finally procurement.
But during the past ten years in finance and procurement, I supported the Sales & Marketing team; and, that has taught me enough.
Branding is the process of creation, whereas the brand is the outcome. Brands are the Apple logo or the Nike Swoosh. And personal branding is Oprah or Prince?
Each represents something distinct, whether it be a person or product. So what have I learned from some of the best masters in the trade (that’s worthy of focusing on)?
Here My 7 Golden Rules for Personal Branding
Consistency is Key!
If you remember nothing else from this blog, remember this… BE CONSISTENT. Yes, sorry, I needed to yell it. It really is that important.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a slide deck you create, your brand name, look or feel, a color palette, your messaging, just make sure you are consistent! If your website has a blue parakeet on it, don’t change it to green on LinkedIn. There’s this thing called ‘brand recognition,’ and by being consistent, you’re able to leverage this concept.
Think about it this way, if Pepsi changed its colors to green and pink, would you still look for the red and blue when you head to the grocery store? Of course! Because it’s seared into your brain right next to your birthday.
You just can’t do it without people misidentifying it. Recognition on the subconscious level is a compelling thing.
Just answer these questions: What color are the McDonald’s arches or the Starbuck’s logo? What does VW or CK stand for? What credit card can take you ‘anywhere you want to be? What animal represents Geico?
Although the representation or image may change slightly, the branding (colors, tag lines, etc.) won’t. And that’s why you can recognize all of these, without a second thought.
I’ll spare everyone the ‘be yourself’ speech and just say – don’t fake it. It just takes to much effort and upkeep for a second image or personality. If you’re genuine with your branding, it’s just easier to create and post content that people will relate to. Not to mention, you don’t have the stress of ‘staying in character’ in all your interactions.
Not to mention, the most successful personal brands are also the most authentic. (Unless you’re a Kardashian, then being fake is your thing.)
A few good examples of this are Chip and Joanna Gaines from the show Fixer Upper, Oprah (she is the queen!), Lady Gaga. What do they have in common? They are 100% authentic and themselves. If you can’t see yourself sitting down with the brand image of yourself for coffee, then you’re doing it wrong.
Emotions and Branding
Now I’m not just making this part up. If you look at PsychologyToday, people react much better to the emotional parts of advertising. They are also the reason why consumers prefer brand-name products vs. generic. So every marketer knows that if they can connect emotionally with people and the brand, it will stick.
So the same goes for creating your brand. I am by no means telling you to get online and post your innermost thoughts and feelings. I’ve noticed a lot of oversharing in the business world, that just isn’t appropriate. (Same could be said about personal apps, but that’s another issue!)
What I am saying is that sharing the right amount of your successes and failures can appeal to emotions. Some of my most shared blogs have the words “LOVED” or “HATE” in them. Why? It allows people to connect with me emotionally in the topic. And let’s just say, a LOT of people hate networking!
Your Core Values
I’m sure you’ve heard of the saying, “Those who stand for nothing fall for anything.” Well, this rings true with a personal brand. You may think having a set of ethics or standards to follow is trivial, but in reality, it is everything.
Here’s a good example of this – would you want to follow someone who is a pathological liar, content thief, or just an all-around asshole? Of course not. That’s why having your core values as part of your brand is so important. I may be from the midwest, but there’s something to having values come through with your work and brand. It all goes back to relatability and your credibility.
Expert Level Resource
So how do you know if you are an expert in a field? Here’s a decent level gauge compare against. Could you teach with limited business knowledge of the industry or in general? If you could (without the aid of too many google searches for sources), then you are an expert!
Why is this important in building your brand? It goes back to authenticity. If you tell me you are a ‘master marketer’ but don’t know the term ‘marketing funnel’, you may have chosen the wrong area.
It should be something that you are passionate about, you find exciting and just, in general, continue to grow your knowledge base. Can you imagine what would happen if you did run into an expert in the field, and you didn’t know your stuff? Being embarrassed would be the least of your worries. You could easily ruin your brand reputation, which is always a hard situation to recover from (if you can!).
Even if you aren’t an absolute expert, just be honest in your content. TIt will add to your authenticity and likability, which can go a long way!
Humility with Branding
I’m keeping this one short. Don’t be an a-hole. Nobody wants to be around someone who is constantly bragging how great they are, or what they have done. Have some humility and let your work speak for itself.
Let Others Help With Your Branding
There’s nothing more powerful than having others help you build and promote your brand. So how do you do it? Well, here’s how I’ve managed. I simply put myself out there. My approach is, here’s what I’ve done, I’m leaving it here for you to check out. I don’t push it down people’s throats (not a good tactic in general).
Don’t forget to post and ask for feedback. People will engage with you (I promise!). Eventually you will build a report and friendship with others, and they’ll want to share in your successes. Just remember, it all can’t be about you! It’s got to be a 2 way-street and reciprocity is necessary!
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