For many professionals who are looking to establish an independent enterprise, personal branding is their key to success. As Pam Moore, CEO and Founder of Marketing Nutz mentions, there are numerous reasons why personal branding is necessary for business leaders and marketing professionals.
According to Moore, personal branding builds trust between you and customers, therefore driving business, it leads to consistency, and it allows you to encourage your employees to reach for greater business success. While these are just a few of the advantages of personal branding, there are many more to be had. If you are currently considering starting your own business and developing your own brand, then your next course of action is to follow the 7 immutable laws of personal branding.
What is a Brand?
Understanding the concept of a brand seems simple enough, but for most people, the concept can be completely abstract. As Neil Patel points out, a personal brand is anything, “a symbol, design, name, sound, reputation, emotion, employees, tone and much more.”
When most people consider branding, they conceptualize it solely on a business level. For example, most people imagine that branding means the images portrayed by large corporations such as Pepsi, McDonalds, and others.
However, with the advent of social media, advanced technology, and start-ups, personal branding is more relevant to the individual than ever. Now, to make yourself or your small business valuable, recognizable, and understandable, you are required to build your own personal brand.
The Benefits of Building a Personal Brand
Before embarking on your journey to build a personal brand, you may be thinking to yourself why you should put in the time, effort, and capital to build a personal brand. By understanding the importance of building a personal brand, you’ll be more driven to invest in the project. Personal branding is important for a number of reasons:
- Develops confidence in your own brand
- Showcases your brand’s specialties
- Gives your brand credibility
- Allows you to more easily connect to your target audience
- Sets you apart from the competition
- Enables you to focus more on your brand and its direction
As you can tell, developing your personal brand is invaluable to its ultimate success. Instead of struggling with the tenants of building a personal brand, let’s take a look at the seven immutable laws so that you can make your brand’s success happen. Changes that you make won’t happen overnight, but once they do happen, you’ll be glad you implemented a path to get things on track.
#1: Establish an Name and an Associated Image
The main element that affects your brand’s reputation and influence on the consumer market is the brand’s name and image. In one study by the Marcothink Institute published in the Journal of Products and Brand Management, it was found that brand image affects consumer confidence in the quality of products produced by the organization. In addition to boosting confidence, it also influences the consumer’s purchasing behavior. Brands with a stronger image and an effective name are able to enhance consumer perception in the product or service, thereby increasing the chance that a purchase will be made.
If you’re like individuals though, coming up with a brand name and an associated image is exceedingly difficult. Unless, you’re a big brand – in which case, you’re going to use the following suggestions:
While you aren’t a big brand yet, you can still utilize some of the best and most effective strategies to developing your brand’s name and logo. According to Entrepreneur, there are a few suggestions that you may want to practice in developing your brand’s logo:
- Review other logos in your industry – and set yourself apart
- Match your logo to your brand’s message
- Relate your logo design to your business’s name
- Ensure that your logo is clean and functional
- The logo should illustrate your business’s main benefit
- Clipart is not an option
- Trendy is good – but don’t overdo it
Along with the above tips, if you are at loss on your own, then you may want to consider hiring a designer to help you out. A design firm can cost anywhere from $4,000 to $15,000. While this may be a bit pricy, the advantage of getting a professional to create your logo for is that you can feel confident that you’re getting your monies worth. Finally, once you have a logo established, don’t forget to apply for a trademark through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website.
The Brand Name
After you’ve formulated a logo, you can start matching a brand name to your logo.
Alexandra Watkins, one of the most popular name branding professionals in the industry, has noteworthy words for those who are developing a brand name. Alexandra explains in an article by Inc., “A name will last longer than any other investment you make in your business. Whether people see it on your storefront, read it on your badge at a trade show, or see it on their caller ID, your brand makes a critical first impression – even more than your shoes.” In order to create a brand name that sticks, you should follow the acronym SMILE:
S: Suggestive – establishes a brand experience
M: Meaningful – a name that meaning to the reader
I: Imagery – evokes an image in people’s minds, preferably your brand logo
L: Legs – brand names that have wordplay potential.
E: Emotional – invokes feelings and emotions in people.
By following the above tips, you can make the best choice for your brand’s name and logo.
#2: Establish a Specialization
The next law of personal branding requires that you establish a brand specialization. According to the Creative Alliance, many brands are overwhelmed with trying to manage a range of businesses. While the practice of taking on numerous businesses may be in your periphery, doing do can easily detract from your ability to create a specific and quality brand product. At the end of the day, businesses are good at gearing their efforts at what they are specifically good at.
To start formulating what your brand’s specialization is, you may want to consider gathering your team together to identify what your brand is best at developing. Once you determine what your brand is best at producing, you’ll be able to put most of the emphasis on that specific product or service.
As Chron points out in an article about specialization for small businesses, specialization enables your brand to build a reputation around the product or service that you are specializing in. This approach allows your consumers to pinpoint your brand as the “go-to” guy for whatever it is that you are offering and in return, the brand is able to offer something that is high in quality and consistent in its results.
In an article by Xonitef, Professor Ramperstad at Stanford University mentions that when developing your brand’s specialization, you should be extremely precise regarding what you are offering. Your product or service should be built on a single corded talent or skill. By ensuring that your brand specializes, your brand will be able to remain special, relevant, and needed by consumers.
Once you figure out what your brand’s specialization is, you should consider abandoning what your brand is not good at. By getting rid of the extra weight, you’ll be able to focus on what brings you the most profit.
#3: Maximize Brand Visibility
Out of any of the brand personalization strategies listed, maximizing brand visibility is the easiest one to implement. Moreover, building brand awareness is one of the top goals of marketing professionals, with 88% incorporating into their daily to-do list.
There are a number of methods that you can implement to cultivating brand visibility.
Social media is your golden tool when it comes to building brand visibility. When leveraging social media, you should choose options that are most relevant to your brand and your brand’s audience. For example, if your brand is a home décor brand, then social media tools like Pinterest may be a prime choice. On the other hand, if your brand mainly caters to working professionals, then you may want to leverage your LinkedIn network. When using social media as a tool, don’t forget to follow a specific posting schedule for the most visibility.
High Profile Content
Another way to improve your brand’s visibility is to create high-profile content. The better your content, the more your viewers feel compelled to share and as sharing increases, so does your brand’s visibility.
As you create high profile content, you should make sure that you are marketing the content to your brand’s target audience either through a blog, social media, or your web page.
According to Hinge Marketing, visibility can also be cultivated through gaining credible partners. Partnership marketing improves your brand’s awareness, it gives you more website traffic, and it also leads to higher customer acquisition.
Once you find a credible partner who also has a large audience, you can improve visibility by hosting events together, exchanging content, performing mutual research, and referring prospects to one another.
#4: Values Should be a Priority
As Susan Gunelius at Aytm smartly puts it, a brand’s value is its most valuable asset, which is why brands should build brand values into their strategic imperatives. Before you can work on building your brand’s value, it is necessary to understand what brand value is.
C.W. Park, professor of Marketing at USC Marshall School of Business defines brand value as: “The difference between customers’ willingness to hear the costs to obtain the brand’s benefit and the firm’s costs expended to create those benefits.”
Creating value for your brand can be done in multiple ways. Perhaps one of the simplest options is to ensure that you are hiring individuals who visualize your brand and its benefit in the same manner as you. By choosing the right employees for your brands, you’ll have common goals and will strive to achieve those goals together.
Another method to creating value is to ensure that your brand provides customers what they are looking for. To do this, you should focus on prioritizing quality in the product or service that you are offering.
Finally, you’ll also find that brand value can be cultivated through remaining true to your brand’s initial tenants. For example, if your brand prioritized community endeavors at its onset, then you should remain true to those community endeavors, even well into your brand’s success.
#5: Build Brand Publicity
The fifth immutable law of personal branding is to build brand publicity. Creating publicity for your brand is different than utilizing social media tools to improve visibility. As Branding Strategy Insider explains, publicity is a free form of advertising that is read by six times more people than other outlets. Most importantly, publicity is highly credible and outranks self-promotion significantly.
Publicity is a challenge for most marketing professionals and brands that are developing a personal brand because most are used to relying upon social media for visibility. However, if you want to reach an entirely new audience and to develop your brand’s image, then you should seriously consider using publicity.
A few of the best ways to add to your brand’s publicity strategy is to take advantage of corporate events, workshops, consulting, and through speaking at events.
When utilizing these outlets, you’ll be able to introduce your brand, build upon its image, and even reach out to a different market that may be interested in what your brand has to offer.
When cultivating brand publicity, you should always focus on positive publicity. As Entrepreneur explains, the best publicity can be found through the following methods:
- Media: Use services where reporters are looking to write stories about upcoming topics. By helping a reporter out, you can get a free story and free publicity. Through services such as Help a Reporter Out, you’ll attain queries from reporters and you can choose who you would like to respond to.
- Press Releases: Another option is to use a press release. There are dozens of outlets that you can pay in order to post your press release. As the press release spreads through media channels, you’ll be able to easily develop your brand.
- Social Networking: Lastly, social networking is another prime option to building your personal brand. Network with individuals who can help you and improve your brand’s image, but stay away from those who can easily topple your brand’s reputation.
Building brand publicity is perhaps the most challenging option out of all the laws. However, at the same time, it may also lead to the most noticeable results and the most credibility since you can never underestimate the power of revered news outlets.
#6: Show Your Credentials
Trust and credibility is an essential of personal branding. Personal brand credibility is what triggers impulses in customers to purchase the product or service that you are offering. Clearly, the goal of your brand is to create a positive impression. Through positive impressions, you’ll be able to generate a positive brand image and subsequently, more sales.
As Marketing Huddle explains, how to establish credibility is one of the more difficult questions that you’ll need to answer. This is especially a challenge for businesses who are newcomers or startups that have no experience in the area. There are a number of ways to produce brand credibility:
- Creating a quality and valid logo
- Marketing efforts
- Advertising endeavors
- Establishing a mission and a vision that correspond to your brand’s values
- Build a positive consumer perception
As you may already have noticed, the above elements are mainly fulfilled by many of the other laws that are required of personal branding.
In addition to the above elements, the Harvard Business Review points out, “market position and brand – with items like goodwill, customer lists, reputation, and contracts are largely a measure of how well companies are building trust with consumers and the wide community.”
Therefore, in concurrence to Marketing Huddle’s recommendations, you should also be adopting practices that help develop positive goodwill and that also build upon your brand’s reputation as one that consumers can rely upon for their needs.
Finally, the last most pertinent law of personal branding is to make sure that the brand is consistent in everything that it does. According to Susan Gilbert on The Medium Corporation, “What’s the most powerful marketing tool these days to build your brand? It’s consistency.”
When developing consistency throughout your brand, there are a number of areas that you should give your primary focus to.
First, you want to be consistent with your online social media endeavors. That is to say, if you post every day on Facebook, then you should do the same on Twitter and Pinterest. By being consistent in those areas, you can prevent your followers from feeling jilted. In addition, you’ll also make them feel like they are a priority for your brand.
Second, all information about your brand that appears online should provide the same statistics, facts, and information. This way, when there are people looking up your brand, you’re able to keep your image the same throughout. In addition, those who read information won’t need to question the legitimacy and credibility of your brand when there is concurring information.
Lastly, you should offer your products and services at the same price. By doing so, your brand will be trusted and respected more than your competitors that do the opposite.
Essentially, by keeping things consistent for your brand’s followers, you’ll be able to build a more effective and trustworthy personal brand.
By following the above seven laws of personal branding, you’ll be able to build a well-rounded and effective personal brand. Your brand should encompass your values, the goals that you are aiming to fulfill, and what your customers can expect when using your personal brand or service.
Once you’ve fulfilled and are following the seven laws of personal branding, you should ensure to stay true to them. Too many brands may start out following the above recommendations, but will later fall through, which leads to adverse results.
Finally, you should also make use of all of your resources out there. By using what you have available, you can make the most of your personal branding efforts so that you can build a successful brand.
If you have any other strategies you employ for personal brand marketing and areas you are going to focus on in 2016 then go ahead and share them below. If you have any other comments, leave them as well as I love to hear from you…