Investors invest in people more so than ideas. Customers buy from people rather than the company, at least in the early stages of a startup. Word of mouth and personal endorsements speak wonders. It is important to consider and define your personal brand simultaneously with your business brand marketing plan.[i]
What does it mean to “brand yourself?”
Branding yourself means making yourself publicly visible through effective communication across various channels. It defines your personal values and highlights your uniqueness in a way that engages your audience.[ii] Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon said, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”[iii] You can discover a lot about someone if you just listen to what people are saying about them behind their back.
Your personal brand and reputation are like your shadow on a sunny day. They trail naturally as a result from walking toward the sun. The best way to analyze what you are is to first establish what you are not. This will help in fine tuning your brand’s message.
Building a reputation takes patience; it is built one blog post at a time, one interview after another. Facebook shares, tweets and memorable hashtags on Instagram all coalesce to promote one consistent, clear communication of who you are and what you offer that no one else does.[iv]
Here are five approaches to creating a personal brand that is engaging and drives business and sales.
It is not enough to rely on published works to get noticed, it is about being authentic and managing how you are perceived by your audience. In this case, boldly “own” your image. When adopting your personal brand ask yourself who you are, and what you represent? What added value will you offer to the market?[v]
Connecting with people, building a following by nurturing relationships is the best way to build your brand. Remember, networking is not about blatantly selling. It is about building organic connections, listening, and asking questions. Learning what your followers want will allow you to get ahead.
Don’t be afraid to be your own promoter and biggest advocate. Building a strong name is accomplished by having the confidence and will to share your vision with the masses without sounding salesy. [vi] Create a plan and a schedule. Organizing yourself will help identify inconsistencies and areas for improvement.
Social Media and Online Presence
Thanks to the age of technology and the global sense of interconnectedness, there is no better time to be center stage. Create, market and manage your brand on various platforms. You are in control of what people see when they type your name in the Google search bar.
Creating your own website or blog is the first step in establishing creditability with your potential audience. Interact and build relationships with your readers and convert these individuals into followers. Gain your readers’ trust by writing articles, sharing your opinion and generating a diverse referral network.
Manage Your Reputation
Warren Buffet’s memorable words reminds us, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”[vii] You will have lovers and haters. Not everyone is going to be your biggest fan, but it is important to be true to yourself. Present yourself in such a way that you can filter these differences in a professional manner without jeopardizing everything you have created and maintaining a consistent message you can stand behind.
These are only a few brand strategies; there is no one right way to create an effective brand and become a successful entrepreneur. If it were a simple formula everyone would be doing it. Building a brand requires learning and adaptation. From where you begin, may not be where you end up. Be unique, be flexible, and listen to your consumers; they will guide you.
An entrepreneur wanting to stay competitive cannot afford to hide from the public. Impersonal websites, outdated profiles and lack of social media presence will cripple any business trying to make it onto the center stage of the global startup scene. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn connect your customers, investors, and other professionals to one another and to you, day and night, all week, every week. If you do not take an active stance to create a strong personal brand, you will be dead in the water. Get off on the right foot, invest in your personal branding, and propel your business to the next level.
How do you launch a multi-channel communications and marketing campaign that changes the world and spreads around the continents of Europe, the Americas, Asia…? The job of marketing and communications decision-makers becomes more complex and challenging – each day. New channels and platforms emerge continually. GBSB Master Degree in Communications and Future Marketing teaches you the most effective ways of planning and launching an integrated, multi-channel communications and marketing campaign today. By joining this master degree in communications in Barcelona, Spain you will learn about the best ways for leveraging email, mobile, social, paid media, analytics, and more to build the brand and business.
By Emily Dawn Szajda, GBSB Content Manager
[i] [ii] [v] Zwilling, Martin. 16 June 2012. Entrepreneurs Need to Brand Themselves First. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/martinzwilling/2012/06/16/entrepreneurs-need-to-brand-themselves-first
[iii] Williams,David K. 10 June 2015. Why Developing A Personal Brand Is Essential For Every Entrepreneur. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidkwilliams/2015/06/10/why-developing-a-personal-brand-is-essential-for-every-entrepreneur/#54bf4def71f4
[iv] [vi] [vii] Pollard, Catriona. 04 August 2016. 5 Personal Branding Strategies Every Entrepreneur Needs to Know. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/catriona-pollard/5-personal-branding-strat_b_7923460.html