This is a statement that most of us have heard many times… and it makes sense. But what does it really mean and what does it entail? This statement belongs to an almost never-ending list of great buzzwords that one hears thrown around liberally to get our attention. Clever high-impact words that are said in one second! Yet, what hides behind these simple words? What do they actually mean in practical terms?
I get flashbacks to my corporate days when I attended product or steering meetings during which invariably the Excel spreadsheet whizzes, the KPI and USP experts, and bullet point visionaries would ambitiously lay out the shape of the future, four lines a slide.
For those of us who were still sane, our eyes would meet, and we would silently read each other’s minds. Each bullet point was a minimum of a month’s work, sometimes more, for one or more teams. The 15 or so slides each contained at least 4 bullet points. I let you do the math.
The statement “You are your brand!” reminds me of just that. A great vision that is essentially correct, but the devil always lies in the detail. Implementing an effective “You are your brand” campaign takes years of commitment and hard work. The inherent danger in building your brand long-term is that mistakes are easily made and can undermine, or even ruin, years of hard work. So you can’t slip up. There are no bad days, because consistency is the name of the game.
So where do you start? You don’t have lots of money that you can throw at your branding, maybe you don’t have any money at all. And here is the paradox: when establishing a brand, not having tons of money can turn out to be a blessing.
Why? Simply because when resources are limited, your only smart option is to do more with less… and be smart! What this means in branding, and especially with an “I am my brand” philosophy, is to start from the end. You need to ask yourself what are the 10 things you want your clients to know about you and reverse engineer from there.
Your two key considerations here are how will these ten qualities impact your business, what they will require of you and your company, and most importantly, are these 10 core qualities of benefit to your customers?
The importance of focusing on what your brand means to you and how it will be perceived by your customers is that ultimately, this exercise will provide “ideological” clarity as much as define all the actions you need to consistently take in order to avoid wastage in your branding action plan.
One of the secrets of successfully achieving this alignment is to choose those qualities that you can wear with ease, naturally and effortlessly being you. Another fundamental aspect of wearing your brand like a winner is the ability to like people. People are the essential raw material found in business and if you have problems with people, especially customers, creating a fusion with your brand will be a long and tedious affair. Remember, the objective is to do the most possible with limited resources. So love people. Always!
This first step, once completed will provide you with a list of clear personal and business targets. They will also have the benefit of simplifying the numerous choices you will need to take as you build your public profile over time.
So you first challenge is to establish your Top-10. This will require you to honestly look at yourself, what you love, where you are awesome, where a bit less. Ask yourself what do you clients think of you and how they perceive you.
A good tip: take one or two of your more friendly customers and ask them what they don’t like about you, your services or products. Ask for total honesty because you are now on a quest to graduate a few classes and rapidly. Ask them what they like too. I firmly believe that positivity is essential. Life as an independent is challenging, every day. So thinking well of yourself necessarily goes through avoiding negative people and having the strength to listen to negatives comments without eroding your belief in self.
Where we are going with this?
I am starting a series of posts that are going to focus on the many facets of personal branding and the commonsense methods you can use to ensure you not only achieve durable brand visibility and the profile you want, that represents you, but also one that is relevant and understood by your clients, and most importantly a cost-efficient approach.
I will give you a clue: a great logo and corporate colors is a very small part of creating your brand. So we will dig deep into how to create a killer “You Are Your Brand” that works for you.