The Brand of YOU

prupletennisshoes

“I’M NOT A BUSINESSMAN/I’M A BUSINESS, MAN!” – Jay-Z

Jay-Z got it right. That’s what personal branding is all about. It’s not only your commercial brand that delivers a message to the marketplace; YOU do, too!

Maybe you’ve already worked on branding your business, but have you built a personal brand?  A personal brand is an aspect of branding that can often go overlooked, even though it’s incredibly important in business.

When you are competing for a job it is not just about your education and your skills, it is also about what’s unique in the way you think, the way you work and the things that you are passionate about. People hire people, not resumes.

Whether you’re looking to use your personal brand to get a job, are launching your own business, or want to strengthen your existing business, building a strong personal brand will help you to transform your passions and personality into a brand that works for you.

What is a personal brand? Personal branding describes the process by which individuals and entrepreneurs differentiate themselves and stand out from a crowd.

Having a strong personal brand can help you

  • gain more confidence
  • feel more empowered to charge a premium for your valued services
  • stand out from the competition.
  • enhance your recognition as an expert in your field

Here are three necessary key steps to begin building your personal brand:

1. Tell Your Personal Story – What Makes You Tick

A great brand is a story well told. I often relate how I am the unofficial inventor of the “Pet Rock.” Having a brother who is highly allergic to animals we were never permitted to have a pet; so I created a pet by placing a rock in a Cool Whip container. I put grass in so it could “eat” and poked holes in the lid so my rock could “breathe.” My parents were relieved to see me satisfied with my “pet”. A decade goes by and Gary Dahl is listening to friends complain about their pets getting sick, costing money and taking up their time. He jokingly mentions that a rock would make the ideal pet because it would not need care, make demands or involve emotional attachment. Out of a joke the Pet Rock is born – and he makes millions.

Relating a story like this instantly communicates several things about me and my business. It’s a memorable story which means that I, too, am more likely to be remembered. It speaks to a key tennant of my business: how innovative thinking and taking action, even on ideas we might be inclined to discard, can lead to tremendous success.

2. Link Your Personal Story to Professional Expertise

Richard Branson used his daredevil personality to create buzz around his fledging Virgin brand through stunts like crossing the Atlantic in a Virgin branded hot air balloon. Blake Mycoskie turned a passion for helping poor children in Argentina into the thriving TOM’S footwear brand. UNREAL candy started with a question from a 13-year old kid, “Why does the junk food we love have to be so bad for us?” That question became a mission and a “healthier” candy company was born.

Other well-known examples of linking personal stories with expertise are inventor Sir James Dyson who revolutionized the vacuum cleaner and created Dyson Limited. As the brand was just getting started, Dyson appeared in every advertisement together with his machines.  Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream who brought the “chunk” into ice cream and put “local” and social responsibility on everyone’s radar. They, too, are featured prominently on each ice cream carton.

These successful brands are practically inseparable from the personal brands that created them. Find your unique twist and don’t be shy about linking it with your business.

3. Use Every Touch Point for Your Brand.

Think of every point that a customer comes into contact with you as a chance to communicate your personal brand. Use those moments to make yourself and your business more memorable. Even little moments can have a big impact. The colors of my company, BrandTwist, are pink and purple. When I speak at conferences, I have a little purple bucket that people can deposit their business cards in. It’s a small touch, but goes a long way in reinforcing the brand of “me.”

The social media manager at Virgin Active SA had the following job description in his email signature: Social Media Ninja!  This makes an immediate, enjoyable impact that speaks to the whimsy of the Virgin brand and will long be remembered.

Consider other ways you can stand out besides the usual stationery and business cards. Perhaps you become known for a particular color or an accessory that  is always present in some fashion. Put a twist in your voice mail message. Create a unique salutation.

As an entrepreneur, independent contractor, artist, job seeker or corporate business executive, you are a brand.  As Richard Branson notes, “When you are running a business, the most powerful advertising asset you have is yourself.”

What’s your brand YOU story and how will you use it boost your business?

Brand School, our highly effective, premier branding program, delivers the tools and steps you need to strengthen your brand and your connection to your customers. Get our free brand-building tips and receive access to updates about Brand School’s exclusive programs when you sign up for our newsletter at BrandSchoolOnline.com.

“Brand School was engaging and helpful to me in learning more about myself and my business. Results came amazingly quick. Now, my brand name speaks my message immediately and I’ve expanded my reach.”  – Lynn Stull, Owner Arts2Thrive  

What’s Your Brand Theme Song?

Every detail plays a part in starting a business – you need the vision, the plan, the team, the perspective, and the ability to execute. Carolyn Browning, founder of MEETing Needs, LLC, shares how a Brand School workshop exercise “Identifying your brand’s theme song” helped her bring it all together and formulate a plan for success.

This entry, from Carolyn Browning, is another in our guest blogger seriesRead more about Carolyn in her bio below. If you would like to be a guest blogger for BrandTwist contact Jamie@BrandTwist.com for more information.

Girl with headphones

If you are anything like me, there is always music playing – whether in the car, exercising, preparing dinner or working. The type of music varies, but having something in the background helps my mood – it calms me, energizes me, and keeps me focused.

So I was excited when some pre-work for a workshop I recently attended entitled “The Brand of You” (led by BrandTwist’s own Julie Cottineau), was to choose a song, poem or quote that described my personal brand.

Editors note: This workshop has passed but you can read more about how to effectively tell your brand story, in Julie Cottineau’s article, HERE. If you want to make sure you hear about future events like the one Carolyn attended, sign up for our mailing list.

[sc:newoptin] I immediately decided that I’d choose a song – but which one to pick? What would best describe my company – MEETing Needs? My brain was bouncing in different directions as I started listening to the radio. I happened to be tuned to the Broadway show tunes station when, it hit me – “Putting it Together”, a Sondheim classic from Sunday in the Park with George, about an artist who is trying to overcome objections from his manager, investor and wife, about his style and the direction his art is going in.

I started singing some of the lines

“Bit by bit, putting it together… Every moment makes a contribution; every little detail plays a part. Having just a vision’s no solution, everything depends on execution….”

This really resonated with me and my new brand and it ties together the three core facets of my business. Here are some of the other lyrics and the correlations I drew:

“Link by link, making the connections”

In my speaking/training area – I love helping people connect concepts together.

“First of all you need a good foundation, otherwise it’s risky from the start”

When facilitating a meeting or retreat for a group, a good foundation and vision is critical

“Mapping out the right configuration… starting with a suitable foundation… til you have a balanced composition”

This applies to meeting management, planning things out – keeping harmony among the various parties – balancing the stakeholders needs.

“Putting it Together” could be the soundtrack for my life, both personally and professionally – almost everything I’ve done has to do with putting together people and ideas. From organizing activities for my sisters and I, to planning parties, to leading clubs in school, to training the sales team on a new product, to building a strategic plan with an association board, or finally starting my own company. Every detail plays a part – you need the vision, the plan, the team, the perspective, and the ability to execute.

Identifying your brand’s theme song was a really helpful exercise and just the beginning of this incredible workshop. From there we delved into creating a cohesive story that resonates with our target audience. We pinpointed personal stories that could be used to define us and our brand; linked the personal story to our professional experience and finally tied it all together in our ‘elevator pitch’.

Julie’s technique of finding a theme song as a way to explore what is unique about my personal brand really inspired me.  I came away energized to tell my story and might just be adding some theme music to my website…

About guest blogger Carolyn Browning:

Carolyn Browning is the Chief Solution Strategist of MEETing Needs, LLC. After years of freelance meeting planning, developing association leaders, leading certification prep classes and being a super-volunteer, she decided to combine her passion for teaching, facilitating and designing meetings to start her own company, MEETing Needs. She is a Certified Meeting Professional (CMP), holds a Certificate in Meeting Management (CMM), is a multiple-award winning member and two-term past president of the Meeting Professionals International (MPI) WestField Chapter. In her “spare time” she manages the family schedule for her husband and two busy teenagers. If you’d like to find out more about Carolyn or MEETing Needs, contact her at crb@carolynbrowning.com, follow her on Twitter @crbcmp or visit her website, www.carolynbrowning.com.

Finding the Right Job Fit: Large vs. Small

Julie Cottineau gives her top tips from her 25+ years at great companies such as Grey, Interbrand and Virgin in this post, “Finding the Right Job Fit: Large vs. Small” from our series providing insight and action steps for those seeking a career in branding. You can read more entries in this Career series HERE

A question I often get from job-seekers is, “What are the trade-offs of working for a big vs. small company or agency?”

“Does size really matter?”

When deciding between a boutique ad agency, a global one, a major mass-marketer client or a small start up, there are definite pros and cons of each you should consider.

For example, if you have wanderlust, like I did a few years out of college, the bigger the better. I was fortunate enough to spend 3 of my 10-year tenure at Grey Global in the Paris office. This was an amazing, life-changing experience (I met my husband, who is French, while living there). Grey had a fairly established program of sending people around the globe. So while I did have to press to be one of the lucky ones chosen for an international assignment, the program was already well-oiled and very much in place.

I’ve also worked at small agencies when I was first starting out and have found several benefits in the boutique model as well.

These include: 1) access to senior mentors, 2) fewer layers often means more responsibility for juniors and, 3) participation in new business.

On our pitches the entire agency got involved instead of just a small select new business team, and I learned a ton.

But my wisest piece of advice to help alleviate some of the worry over the debate of small vs. large is to prioritize these two more important factors: 1) What account am I working on, and 2) Who am I working for?

[sc:optin]
These two factors are more important then the number of employees listed in the directory. A dynamic brand- one that you are really passionate about, even at a relatively small, up and coming Agency or a start up, can teach you a lot and you will invest more time and energy into it – and this will shine through in interviews and your resume as your move on after a while to look for your next opportunity.

Also the right boss – someone who will invest in you, share their wisdom, give you tools, feedback and responsibility- in my opinion trumps any factors of big vs. small. It also doesn’t hurt if he/she also has had experience with both big and small Agencies – so you can benefit from both sides of the coin.

Brand School, our highly effective, premier branding program, gives you the strategies and tools you need to create a  personal and professional brand that’s a fit in any sized company. Receive more information about Brand School’s next session and get free brand-building tools and tips when you join our mailing list.

Please also join us on Twitter and Facebook for more insight and discussion on branding.

“It was great pulling everything together from touch points, to pillars. I would recommend Brand School to any small biz owner or entrepreneur.” – Sarah W., Entrepreneur

Quit Your Job and Make Your Old Company Your First New Client

Recently I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Brian F. Martin, host of  Brand Connections Brand Fast-Trackers.

We talked about what makes a successful brand and many of the core tenets I learned from my 22+ years in branding, particularly my time working as VP of Brand for Virgin.

A few highlights that I expand on in the podcast:

  • A clear core promise is essential
  • Your brand is the product/experience you’re offering and must deliver on its promise
  • You need to embrace and learn from failure
  • Know your brand framework and stay true to who you are

We also talked about what it takes to leave your job and make the big leap from being an employee to being an entrepreneur. You may be surprised by what I said. Most people think they need to hide their aspirations of starting their own company from their boss until they are ready to hand in their resignation. My experience at Virgin was the exact opposite. I made my intentions clear months before I left Virgin and was able to walk out the door with my boss’ blessing and Virgin as one of my first clients for my new company BrandTwist.

You can read Kat Krieger’s summary of the interview and listen to or download the podcast at the Brand Connections website HERE.

“You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works.”

I’m thrilled to be featured in Marcy Twete’s new book, You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works. Each week this summer the Career Girl Network is featuring one chapter highlighting one of the interviewees from the book. You can check out an excerpt from the chapter with my interview, “Julie’s ‘Best of the Best’ in Networking Advice,” order the book, and learn more about the Career Girl Network and how they are engaging women nationally in mentoring, networking, and relationship building to advance their careers HERE.

“Results came amazingly quick. Now, my brand name speaks my message immediately and I’ve expanded my reach.”  – Lynn Stull, Owner Arts2Thrive

Get information about priority registration for the next session of Brand School, our highly effective, premier branding program, and receive free brand-building tools and tips when you join our mailing list.