The Brand of YOU

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“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.

How Not to Dress for Success

This post, How Not to Dress for Success, is another in our series providing insight and action steps for those seeking a career in branding. Julie Cottineau gives her top tips and shares insights from her 25+ years at great companies such as Grey, Interbrand and Virgin. You can read more entries in this Career series HERE

It may be summer, but this is still a job. Even if you see senior partners dressing in casual clothes – remember they’ve already gotten the job. If you are an intern or junior employee,  you are still auditioning. The casual air in a creative environment like an agency can be misleading, but if you have any doubt whatsoever, err on the more professional side.

This means:

No flip flops (for men or women) ever- save them for the beach!

No midriff baring.

Gals: No super micro-mini skirts or hotpants.

Guys: Depending on your company, you may not need to wear a jacket or tie – but no shorts or scruffy t-shirts, and no pants hanging so low they’re falling off.

Pay attention to how the men and women in the office are dressing when they go to see clients.

When in doubt: ask!

Dress for the job you want, not for the job you have. This doesn’t mean you need to spend a lot of money, but it doesn’t mean you need to look frumpy either. Just be clean, neat and professional.  Don’t go for the the Devil Wears Prada Anne Hathaway before look.

If you are in the branding business, you do need to pay a little attention to your own brand. This is a great time to start cultivating your unique personal style, and style can be expressed in many ways.

If you do want to show some personality through your clothing, accessorize. This can be statement jewelry, cool bags, belts, shoes, hats, scarfs or ties; all applicable for both men and women.

Perhaps there is a certain color, pattern or cool style of specs that you are passionate about. Don’t be afraid to wear them continually and start to develop a signature look. As long as it’s genuinely connected to who you are – don’t play dress up.

One place where shorts are totally appropriate—the company softball team. Joining in is a great way to show your unique personality, demonstrate that you are team player and get to know your future colleagues and bosses.

When I was at Virgin we had a great college intern who came to every game. He wasn’t the best batter or fielder but he had such a great attitude. He was always cheering his teammates on and offering to buy the first round at the pub after the game. This definitely made a positive and memorable impression, gave us great insight into his personality and showed that he was someone who could fit in with the corporate culture.

Have you observed a fashion faux pas in the office? We’d love to hear about your own experience… maybe it was your own internship or a story from one of your friends.

Also, if you are looking to boost your resume, why not become a guest blogger for BrandTwist? Reach out to jamie@herculiz.com with your blog idea or any questions about guest blogging.

Brand School, our highly effective, premier branding program, will give you the insight and tools you need to express your personal brand for greater recognition in your career field. 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 connect with us out on Twitter and Facebook for more insight and discussion on branding.

“I highly recommend tis class to anybody; it will put your business on a different level.” – Dr. Marina Kostina, Distance Learning Specialist, CEO of  wired@heart

Branding Lessons from Beyonce

It takes more than a catchy logo, flashy colors and a little bit of “shake your hips” and “show some leg” to create a trusted, consistent brand, and no one knows that better then Beyoncé. The whirlwind of negative press that circulated about how she had lip-synched the National Anthem during President Obama’s Inauguration could have tainted her gleaming reputation, but it didn’t. Why not? She could have ignored the matter or she could have admitted an error in judgment and apologized. She did neither. What she did do was communicate. She expressed what she did, why she did it, and remained rock-solid true to her brand.

Beyoncé admitted to singing with a recording, and in doing so continued to deliver what her fans expect most from her: quality, emotional connection, passion and some real “Sasha Fierce” (her brand avatar) attitude, which further endeared the market to her.

Businesses of every kind encounter errors and mistakes. The challenge lies in finding ways to rise above those bumps in the road. How can your business and brand benefit from looking at the way Beyoncé handled her lip-synch snafu?

Let’s look at how she succeeded in preserving trust and actually strengthening her brand:

[sc:optin]

IF YOU LIKE IT, THEN YOU BETTER TAKE THE REINS ON IT

Shortly after the Inauguration, at a press conference about her upcoming Super Bowl Half Time Show concert, Beyoncé took the reins. Before reporters had a chance to toss her a question, she belted out a powerful acapella rendition of “The National Anthem” followed with, “Any questions?” and a laugh. Not only did she take control and write her own ending to the lip-synch buzz, but she even over-delivered by giving everyone what they wanted to see and hear in true “Sasha Fierce” brand style all the way. 

SHOW YOUR HUMAN SIDE

She went on to share her humanness and vulnerability. She expressed that she is a perfectionist, was uncomfortable performing live without a sound check, and did not want to let everyone down with a less-than-perfect moment. She then reinforced her dedication to continue delivering what her fan following expects by stating she would not disappoint in the upcoming Super Bowl Half Time Show.

KEY TAKE-AWAY? BE PREEMPTIVE AND WRITE YOUR OWN ENDING

Your business can rise above bumps in the road. How? Identify the problem quickly. Address your market with conviction in a way that’s in line with your voice, image, and customer expectation. Over-deliver by providing discounts or free downloads, etc. Tell your story, share challenges and re-commit. Give your market the opportunity to better understand who you are. Then reinforce what your brand stands for by communicating positive intentions. You too will create a positive ending to a challenging situation.

AT BRAND SCHOOL WE SHOW YOU HOW TO ROCK YOUR BRAND

Understanding your customers’ needs, being able to exceed their expectations and effectively communicate your ideas is critical to maintaining strong brand loyalty. Brand School, our highly effective, premier branding program, gives you the tools you need to develop your branding and use it to make your business sing. We give you hands-on exercises, exclusive online videos, and the opportunity to connect with a supportive community of fellow brand-building entrepreneurs.

“The value I received from my investment was incredible and I have no doubt that it will continue to pay dividends to me.”  – Lynn Stull, Owner Arts2Thrive

5 Tips for Building a Better (Visual) Resume

This post, 5 Tips for Building a Better (Visual) Resume, is another in our series providing insight and action steps for those who are job seeking. Julie Cottineau gives her top tips and shares insights from her 25+ years at great companies such as Grey, Interbrand and Virgin. You can read more entries in this Career series HERE

Portfolios have long been a critical job search component of people in Creative positions.

But I think they are an effective tool for anyone looking to sell themselves.

Pictures do paint a thousand words.

And many people in today’s visually oriented society simply respond better to images.

My advice is to create a visual resume.

There are two ways to do this.

One is an online service. I haven’t actually used this but it looks interesting.

The other, which I use, is to create a portfolio that acts as an accompanying piece to your traditional resume.

It simply brings your traditional resume to life in images.

Here’s 5 Tips on how to create this kind of impactful visual resume:

#1 Start by bringing your personal brand to life:

The first page of my visual resume talks about my background. So it’s a montage of images of people, places, and events that are important to me and help define who I am as a brand.

It’s got pictures of the town I grew up in, an emblem from my University, logos of a few of the brands that I am passionate about, and even a snap shot of my family.

It even has a picture of a pet rock.

This last image is a great conversation starter and allows me to tell a story about how I first got inspired to go into marketing at a very young age (more on that in another post).

The montage is colorful, upbeat, fun- all personality traits I want to make sure come through.

#2 Put your work experience into pictures as well as words:

The next section of my visual resume brings to life my work experience.

For example, when I talk about the accounts I worked on in advertising, I show the logos and even some of the ads.