How to apply branding principles to yourself to build business success
A brand is the promise a business gives its customers. A promise represented not only by colours, logos and straplines, but also by its reputation, built over time. All these things combine and build up to create an expectation in customers’ minds about how they will experience the brand. Delivered well, this is what customers learn to trust and that trust leads to loyalty and business.
Human nature means we like to work with and buy from people we trust, so these same principles apply to people. That means, not only do we need to think about our business brand, we also need to consider our personal brand and how we come across to others - building the reputation we want so people trust us in the way we want. It’s not enough to deliver a fantastic product or service, we need look at the whole package.
As Jeff Bezos, Amazon Founder says,
“Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room”
The trick is to make sure you take control of what they say, by actively considering the first impressions you make, to how people experience you and your business. This doesn’t mean you have to pretend to be someone you don’t want to be, indeed you’d soon be rumbled. The key is to be authentic in your style and personality and make sure that comes through wherever you come into contact with the people to whom you want to appeal. Don’t be afraid to be marmite, just as with business brands you won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but make sure you connect with the people that matter to you.
1. DEFINE: Know how you WANT to come across – what is the reputation YOU want to build? Make sure it’s authentic, no point projecting an image that you can’t follow-through with. I often ask my clients to write down lots of adjectives they’d like used to describe themselves. Then be brutal and select the core 3-4 that best capture your essence as a whole person.
2. EVALUATE: Now think about how you come across in REALITY. From how you look, greet people and behave in general, both face to face, in business meetings or larger events, on email / social media. If you want to come across as warm and open, but can be a bit reserved and shy when you meet people, you may not be projecting the approachability you want. If you are naturally very bubbling, do people take you seriously. Be honest with yourself. If you are not sure, ask a few people how they would describe you. You may get a few surprises, and if you do, try asking some open questions to get to the reason why they chose those words – such as “when did I behave like that?”, “how often am I like that?” to find out if it matters to you.
3. MAP: Since your brand comes from the reputation you build you need to think about WHERE you are developing your reputation. Make a list of all the touchpoints where people make contact with you, including social and business. Think about digital, traditional communications (including telephone style) and face to face contact (both 1-2-1, and larger meetings such as networking or industry events). This is important, because if we recognise where we come into contact with people we can actively influence and manage HOW we come into contact with them.
4. SCORE: Now go back to your 3-4 core essence words and score yourself out of 10 to reflect how well you get that essence across at each touchpoint. If you want to come across as professional, do your partying holiday Facebook pages reflect that? It doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t post the fun stuff, you just need to be aware of the impact it has on your personal brand and you may choose therefore to connect with different people on different media to manage that impact.
5. ACTION: Now take a look at your scores. Where do you need to get closer to 10? What do you need to do to improve your personal brand reputation? You won’t change your personal brand overnight, it is an evolving process.
Whether you like it or not, you already have a reputation and personal brand. So as we head into this busy final quarter before Christmas, make sure you are projecting the right image for success.