When you meet people, what is one thing you remember about them? What do you expect them to remember about you? It’s important to create a personal brand for yourself before you start branding your business. You yourself are one of the strongest marketing strategies for your business. Even if most of your customers never meet you, your most important investors and partners certainly will, so it pays to make sure they are meeting with a personality that is cohesive with your overall brand and message.
People always want to know who is behind the business or product — that personal touch can make or break the overall impression of your company. Founder and CEO of Startup Professionals, Martin Zwilling, says that investors invest in people first and the idea second.
To create a persona worth investing in, partnering with, or entrusting with your business, then, you will need to brand yourself before you even think about branding your business. A good personal brand will communicate loud and clear what you stand for and where your values lie. You’ll resonate clarity, consistency, and uniqueness. Once you’ve proved your value and associated yourself solidly with success, it’ll be easy to do the same for your business.
The first step to figuring out your personal brand is to figure out who you are. How do you define yourself? This could include your presentation, your name, your philosophy, your hobbies, your goals… whatever is most important to you, and what you most want to bring to your business.
Think of some of the most famous personalities in history Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, Bill Gates, Reagan. Everyone knows them just by their name and signature persona — even their visual look. That is personal branding at its finest. Think about the qualities you most want to represent and then how you can manifest them in what you do, say, and how you appear.
Creating a personal brand ultimately means sharing the things you stand for, such as your values and morals. Advocating for things you love to do or issues you care about will help define who you are.
You can’t be the best at everything, and even if you could, your audience would be overwhelmed. All you need to do is pick your niche and then hit it with everything you’ve got. Just like the best companies identify one “small” unmet need and fill it better than anyone else, the best branding finds one or a small number of categories to embody and then dominates in that area completely.
Maybe you want your business and your persona to be synonymous with trustworthiness, or with innovation and progress, or with above-and-beyond customer service. Keep your focus simple, but memorable. Whatever it is, isolate your brand and give that one thing your all. If you do it wholeheartedly, that’s exactly what people will remember when they hear your name.
Not only will you stand out, but other brands and companies that try to copy you will only be bolstering your reputation, reminding everyone who did it first and that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
The most important thing to remember, however, when designing your brand, is that it must be honest. If you know in your heart that you’re just not a people person, you won’t ever be able to build a successful brand on friendly personal service. And that’s okay, because maybe you can build a brand on unparalleled creativity and imagination.
Customer’s will always be able to sense an ill-fitting brand. You won’t feel right, and neither will the people you’re trying to impress. Don’t force it, and don’t pick a brand just because it seems like the “right answer” or the expected choice. This is a process of true self reflection. Pick the best aspects of yourself, the things you most want to bring to the table for your business, and highlight those qualities. What makes you the only one who can run your business? That’s your selling point.
When you are living a successful brand, it’s hard not to exude confidence and self-esteem. Once you establish a brand you are proud of, you will constantly be using it to describe you to others. You’ll be more likely to start a conversation with a stranger, and more comfortable building the relationships on which businesses rely. When you network with new people, present something, or are active online, your personal brand creates a vision that can be shared by others, and helps them remember who you are and why you are here.