The concept of a personal brand is a relatively new one. Throughout modern times, we have come to generally associate the term brand with products. As personal branding gains traction, though, it requires different consideration. You can’t simply take what we know about branding sprockets and widgets and apply it blindly to personal branding and expect it to be successful.
As you devote more time and effort to your personal brand, consider these 4 key differences between a personal brand and a product brand.
1. You are on your own.
Sure, you can (and should) get help from designers, coaches, accountants, and assistants. However, when the newsletter is late, when there are issues with the presentation, when the website isn’t up to par, when the you-know-what hits the fan, you will be the one dealing with it front and center.
You can’t run from this, so use it to your advantage.
Promote the importance of the one-to-one connection and don’t be afraid to be seen as a one-person band. Use first person language in your copy. Be up front about your limitations as an individual. Your audience will respond to this, as it’s much more authentic and real than trying to make yourself look BIGGER.
2. Your personality and your brand have to mesh.
How odd would it be if you cultivated a button-down image for your personal brand when you’re more of a loose and casual individual?
Part of the job of a brand is to give people who don’t know you a blueprint for how future interactions will play out.
Imagine, then, how jarring it might be to project one persona in your website and other marketing materials, only to arrive as a totally different person IRL. Or, worse yet, how bad would it be if you had to put on an act to meet expectations? Sounds exhausting.
Be true to yourself and make sure your brand is an extension of your REAL personality. You should be so comfortable with your brand that it feels like your favorite item of clothing. If there’s a disconnect, it’s time to put your brand under the microscope.
3. You NEVER get to walk away from your personal brand.
You know and I know that there’s personal life and there’s business life. No one that I’ve ever met is the exact same persona from client to family to friends. That, though, is a tough distinction to expect potential clients to make.
Whether people see you in the setting of a ballgame or a networking event, they are going to associate you with the services that you sell. This leaves you with two options: 1) make sure all visible elements of your personal life are carefully sanitized or 2) create the kind of brand that can exist peacefully within your personal world.
In other words, if your Saturday consists of a couple pitchers of beer and drunkenly butchering it at karaoke night, you need to make damn sure that stays private (I’m looking at you, Facebook) or pick clients that are okay with handing their problems over to you, regardless.
4. Products are bought. You will be sold.
Think about the last few things you’ve bought. Chances are, you went to a store or to Amazon.com, chose the product on your own, paid for it and went on your way. In essence, a very simple transaction.
If only selling your services were so simple.
If you’re lucky, you’ll only have to convince someone that you are the right person for the job. More often than not, though, coaches, speakers and consultants have the added task of convincing someone that they have a problem that needs fixing in the first place.
For example, most people that I talk to don’t see where their website is costing them time and money, they just vaguely know that something in their business needs fixing. I have to first convince them that their website is the issue, THEN convince them that I’m the right guy for the job.
So, what do you do about this? Build qualifiers into your brand: “if your website is missing this plugin, and you do this for a living, then you’re probably losing money, and here’s a few reasons why.”
Never forget the necessary educational component of your brand materials. No one is going to buy your services solely because you’re the cheapest, the smartest, the tallest. Educate your audience. If you start by showing them WHY they need you, convincing them that they need you gets a whole lot easier.
Think about these items over the next couple weeks as you make tweaks to your website, send out your newsletter or prep materials for your next event.
Is your brand in tune or is it merely acting out the old-school tactics we’ve been taught for branding soda and vacuum cleaners?
I’d love to know if these points lead to any practical solutions. Send me an email, leave me a comment or even give me a call and let me know what you come up with. We love working with those looking to become more aware about the development of their personal brand.