No doubt you’ve either heard or read something about branding, or been told you must develop your “personal brand.” According to entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, we’re in a “branding gold rush.” Just this past December, here at BizIQ, we posted ways you can get started Branding your Small Business, but what does all this mean for you personally? Why should you care, and what can you do to communicate your brand? Do you even need one?
I get it. When I first heard the term, “personal branding,” I thought it was a bunch of baloney. Packaging and promoting your personality and telling your life story is something only actors, professional athletes, politicians, and other public figures did. I don’t need to waste my time with that. But the problem is, all of us already have a personal brand whether we consciously shape our own or choose to just go on with our lives, oblivious to how others perceive us, and how they speak about us when we’re not in the room.
In fact, that last sentence is the definition of “personal branding.” As a small business owner, taking control of yours in this age of social media is absolutely vital. Why? Because you are your business. You are its reputation.
But how do you build your brand? Do you have to pretend to be someone else? Make yourself more interesting? No! Your customers want to know who you are and why you do what you do; why you are in the industry that you’re in. You can and should follow all the practical tips for shaping how others see you and by extension, your business, things like:
Dress neatly and professionally
No, you don’t have to wear a suit. Wear things that reflect who you are. Just make sure they’re clean and presentable.
Get professional headshots
Make sure you are yourself in the photos. Wear what you normally wear, and be yourself.
Get business cards
Make sure they contain your logo and perhaps a thumbnail of your headshot and are consistent with your other business stationery and your website.
Come up with an “elevator pitch”
This is another marketing tool from Hollywood. This is where you get to quickly tell people who you are and why you do what you do, then lastly what you and your business can do for them.
Use Social Media strategically
This includes being mindful of what you post on your personal accounts, even “privately.” But still be yourself, and don’t be afraid to stand out.
Have a professionally designed website
To be noticed, make sure you and why you do what you do are featured on your website.
Your “personal brand” is how people will perceive your business whether you like it or not. Just “being professional” and telling people what products and services your business can offer your customers isn’t enough. It’s why so many small businesses start to look the same. The focus is just on what your business does but there’s little to nothing about you, what you believe, why you are in the industry you’re in, and why you started your business. People will be attracted to your business because they like you, know who you are and because you are uniquely different from all the other businesses in your industry.