By Paul A. Kiewiet
You are a Brand. Your brand is you and you take it with you wherever you go, whether you work for yourself or for someone else. It even follows you if you change industries. But here’s the thing, Brand YOU is constantly evolving and you can continuously build your brand.
My favorite definition of brand comes from one of my favorite business thinkers and writers, Seth Godin. I’ve modified it just a bit to relate to your personal brand as a professional. “A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a client’s decision to choose one provider over another. If the buyer doesn’t pay a premium, make a selection or spread the word, then no brand value exists for that buyer. Your brand’s value is merely the sum total of how much extra people will pay, or how often they choose, the expectations, memories, stories and relationships of one brand over the alternatives.”
So how do you go about building your personal brand? Here are nine suggestions:
1. Establish expectations for remarkable experiences.
You must always be stretching beyond good. Never be satisfied with delivering a good product at a good price on time. Everyone who is still is business does those things. Those are the cost of entry into the game. With every interaction with your customers, you need to leave them feeling great about themselves and about you. Set a standard for yourself to be fascinating, remarkable, outstanding. Create high expectations for yourself and then deliver.
2. Make it memorable.
What are the little extras that you can do to make your interactions with your clients memorable? Your customer will remember the handwritten thank you note that you send. She’ll remember the extra spec samples that you had made up or some additional ways to help her achieve her goals. He’ll remember that you took the time to provide a post-project review of what worked, what could be better and the results of the program. They’ll even remember that your invoice was accurate, timely and conformed to their corporate requirements. Your brand is built with the details and the extras.
3. Tell Stories.
People love stories. Tell them. From earliest childhood and going back through history, it is the story tellers who become leaders. How can you reframe your presentations into stories? Use case histories. Ask your reps about successful uses and applications. Make the stories personal, funny, compelling and you’ll gain a reputation of someone who understands his business.
4. Be a friend.
Always make it about the relationship. Get to know your customers and you’ll learn what is important to them. You will just naturally be looking out for their best interest. You will take the Golden Rule and move it up a notch to the Platinum Rule: Do Unto Others As They Would Have Done For Them. Friends do favors without keeping score. Friends genuinely like each other. Friends have something to talk about even if there isn’t an immediate business project at stake.
5. Know What You Stand For and Take a Stand.
If your brand is to be known for something, you need to define it. Choose honesty, integrity, reliability, of course. But go deeper. What is it that you stand for and then be uncompromising on your principles. Become known as being impeccable. If you know what you are worth, charge for it and never lower your price without taking something back in return.
6. Know What You’re Good At and Be Great At it.
A specialist in any profession makes more money and is in higher demand than any generalist. With the hundreds of thousands of products and hundreds of categories available in our industry, you simply cannot be the best at all of them. Choose your niche, choose your product category, choose your client industry and then work at becoming world-class at them. It will mean sometimes saying “no” to a tempting client or project. Define yourself and become the favorite brand in your category.
7. Be Consistent.
Brands are built over time. Being consistent means that you follow your principles always. It means that you are authentic and transparent. It means that you remind yourself every single day of who you are, why you are doing what you are doing and you provide value. Every single day you need to be turning strangers into friends, friends into customers and those customers into raving fans.
8. Make Your Mark.
Get serious about becoming a brand. Buy a domain name that is uniquely you. It can be your name, your nickname, your brand name, even what you do. If you have a unique name, make that your brand name. Or, create a combination of your name and your specialty. You may even create a logo for yourself. But your mark can be your colors, your apparel, your briefcase, your scent, sound or any of the senses. Just as major brands change and update their logos, you can as well. Be noticeable and be noticeably consistent.
9. Promote Your Brand.
You must promote. Promote your brand by providing useful content – like a friend would – free. Use your social media presence to extend your reach, but make sure you are following the previous principles in all of your promotion. Be yourself and be true to yourself.
Work constantly on becoming the preferred brand in your category. Build it and they will become raving fans!
Paul A. Kiewiet, MAS, is a former chairman of the Promotional Products Association International, and an international speaker, writer, coach and facilitator. Contact him at: 269-806-4489, or email@example.com; or visit http://www.create2bgreat.com.