What’s your personal brand?
We spend a lot of time thinking about branding our businesses. Companies are often happy to spend large sums of money on their logo, their website, their external communications – all so that they present a clear and consistent message to the outside world.
But what about your own personal branding – and that of the people within the business?
As the face of a business, there are lots of good reasons to think about how others perceive you. Although we think that customers buy from companies, the reality is that personal relationships count for a great deal. We’ve all heard the phrase ‘people buy people’ – where you can develop a rapport and a trust with an individual, this can become the most influential factor in the buying process – overtaking other key factors such as price and even the product/service offering on the table.
Whether you’re conscious of it or not, everyone has a personal brand – ie. a way that the outside world perceives you. The first step to using personal branding to your advantage is to identify the features of your own brand. Spend some time thinking about how others view you and how you want to be viewed. Do your actions reflect your beliefs and business values? Could you do a better job in projecting your personal brand – through the way you communicate with clients, fellow employees or other stakeholders?
Once you’ve taken the time to better define the elements of your personal brand, you should consider whether these tie in with the branding of your company. Ideally, there should be a close correlation – if there is a disconnect between way you conduct yourself and the message the business is trying to convey, your job at winning – and retaining – customers will be much more difficult.
Do you want to be ethical, outgoing, forward-thinking? These are all very different and say different things about what you are selling.
This can often be the case as a business grows and more team members come on board. If you started a company yourself, it’s likely that the company’s branding was closely aligned with your own ethos. As you were probably involved in most of the business’ functions in the early days, your own stamp would be on most things, leaving little room for discord. But where more people – each with their own thoughts, attitudes and approach – join a business, your own ethos can become diluted. This needn’t necessarily be a bad thing – the fact that we’re all different applies to customers too!
At every stage, it’s important to remember to stay authentic. Thinking about and developing a personal brand shouldn’t be about changing the way you think or act; it should be about enhancing your existing values – particularly those that closely align with those shared by the company – so they are more apparent to the outside world.
Having a strong personal brand can help to grow a business. People know who you are and are in no doubt what you stand for. You can use a strong brand to grow your reputation in your industry.