Tag Archives: business brand

personal brand

Should You Develop Your Personal Brand?

personal brandWe usually associate brands with companies and products – particularly with big household names like Apple or Microsoft Word. But nowadays, anything can be a brand. Even as an individual, you have a personal brand. How should you deal with that?

Business branding is about creating a comprehensive message for your company and product or service, using names, logos, slogans, copy and other collateral. Branding actively creates the perception you hope consumers will have through coming into contact with your company, product or service.

Personal branding makes some people uncomfortable because it evokes an impression of falseness. If people spend time thinking about how they want to come across, surely that means they are being artificial rather than authentic? They might be too focused on creating the ‘right’ impression rather than just being themselves?

Personal branding is an aspect of the company brand

Personal branding is one small but necessary facet when it comes to constructing a solid and successful company brand. Whilst a CEO is not the poster child for the company, they are a linchpin and direct representative of the business so their personal brand should support the business while being completely authentic to themselves.

The notion that personal branding is for celebrities and major companies, actors, musicians, and athletes, and the big business characters like Steve Jobs is quite wrong. The world has changed. Nowadays we should all build our personal brands. Anyone willing to put in the time, and effort to build their niche can become a ‘thought leader’.

This will attract opportunities for the business they are associated with.

In the 21st century, being a CEO means building a brand that people believe in. That they really care about.

Establishing and promoting what you stand for

‘Personal branding’ is about establishing and then promoting what you stand for. Your personal brand is the unique combination of skills and experiences that make you YOU. Effective personal branding will differentiate you from other professionals in your field.

If you don’t take control of your personal brand you are missing out on opportunities. Founders of businesses are effectively opting to be a faceless organisation if they don’t develop their own separate brand. In a world that wants to know who is behind a brand, where people buy from people, this tendency to hide behind the business brand should be avoided.

It’s a natural tendency because many entrepreneurs are introverts at heart and want to build their businesses. So they wonder why they should focus attention on themselves.

How to tie in a personal brand with the business and whether there is a strong reason to opt for one approach rather than another are common questions many founders wonder about.

Importance of both personal and business brands

Whether the personal brand of the owner of the business is to be the main brand or just a personal brand that sits alongside the business brand doesn’t alter the fact that you need both brands to be out there.

It’s much easier to just have one brand obviously, such as Tony Robbins who is the main brand. Assuming yours is not a Tony Robbins style business, then you should look to entrepreneurs like Elon Musk to see how they use their personal brand.

Elon Musk promotes his personal brand separately to that of his business. Inevitably his brand impacts that of his business even though the business has its own separate identity and name.

The world’s top CEOs construct online brands that embody their business philosophies. Their strategies can be easily applied to any emerging brand leader.

 

Well known personal brands

Take Mark Zuckerberg as an example. He has more than 80 million followers on his Facebook page where he talks about his latest travels, diseases he’s trying to cure and his political opinions such as freedom of speech.

Branson is described on his own Facebook page as “a tie-loathing adventurer, philanthropist and troublemaker, who believes in turning ideas into reality,”

Bill Gates’ philanthropy is a trait that colours his personal branding in a very distinct way. Gates’ commitment to philanthropy is undeniably his brand’s defining trait and one that is reflected in his content, visuals, and social media strategy.

While you want to build a business, you also want your audience to connect to you. You want people to care about your story. A personal brand isn’t about making sales. It’s about connecting with people and getting them to engage with your vision. Your story becomes a part of their story, and vice versa. And when that happens, your personal brand becomes even more powerful.

Your brand isn’t something that just appears as a result of your work in your business. It’s something that you have to actively craft and maintain. That means you have to put the hours into building it.

When you have a personal brand, you become an influencer. People connect to you on an emotional level. That means your emotions can influence theirs.

Building a personal brand is all about creating emotional connections between you and your audience. Always consider the emotional impact of your message before you show it to the world.


Personal vs Business Brand promotion

A question that often comes up for founders is how to build their business and product brand alongside their personal brand if their resources are limited. Which should they prioritise?

Whether you’re building a business to exit, or a lifestyle business in which you will work till you drop, if your resources are limited focus on building your personal brand.

That’s because people buy from people. They prefer to follow people rather than logos. As I pointed out years ago in my book Legally Branded, back in 2012, people’s personal profiles generally have more followers than their business profiles.

If you decide that what you want to do is to build your business name recognition with a view to one day selling the business then it may seem at odds with this aim to focus on building your personal brand. However, that is what you would do well to do. Until you have the resources to maintain two separate profiles independently of one another, then build your personal brand as a priority. A compromise is to set up an account for your business and use it for yourself personally, by making it clear that you’re representing your business. Then you can focus your energies on building your personal brand while still supporting your business.

For example, you would use your own photo rather than your logo. And you would describe yourself, for example, in my case, as Shireen Smith of Azrights. So, you are effectively representing your business brand too.

I used this approach on Twitter for a few years and once I’d built up a following of nearly 5000 I then set up a personal account and announced to my followers that henceforth I would tweet in my personal capacity over at Shireen Smith and that the current account they were following would henceforth be the Azrights business account. I then used a logo instead of a picture of myself for the Azrights profile, and some of the followers followed me on my personal account.

I’m not aiming to create a business to exit so the separate identities I’ve created for my business and personal brand are good enough for me. I put the accent on building my personal brand now while maintaining some presence for the business name. To this day the business account on Twitter has a greater number of followers than my personal account. So, it’s a solid strategy for any platform you’re using to focus your energies in this way and then split out the identities later when you have more resources.

If you have any questions about building your business or personal brand, this is something I am well placed to assist with. Just sign up to the Brand Tuned webinar series to find out more.

 

brand

Design Your Business Brand

brandAs Steve Jobs noted, design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it’s really how it works.

Designing your business brand, methodology or process is therefore about a lot more than getting a visual identity for it. So, learn to leave Visual Identity Till Much Later Don’t assume branding is synonymous with getting a visual identity.

 

Mistaking what brand means

I myself made that mistake when I first set up my business in the mid-2000s.

The words ‘brand’ and ‘branding’ were very confused in my mind because I was a new business, and a less experienced entrepreneur back then. So, I spent thousands on “branding” without getting anything more than expensive design work.

Your brand is more about the way you design your business than designs you get for your business to use.

Although, the visual element does play an important part in the long-term growth and prosperity of a business, it’s all too easy to turn to a visual brand identity, when what you actually first need is to sort out your brand strategy.

I’ve explained in other posts why you need to go to different providers of services to get your brand strategy and brand identity, and then your visual identity.

 

Clarity About Your Business Brand

Only once you’re clear on your business brand would it be appropriate to turn to a designer for a visual identity.  You could brief the designer properly, avoiding the need for them to spend hours and hours trying to understand your business, mission and values – which they, of course, need to know, in order to be able to deliver your visual identity.

A brand is much more than a logo, and branding is about a lot more than visual designs.

Just because you need some sort of visual identity to start your venture, doesn’t mean you should undergo a costly branding visual design exercise. You could just use some basic designs more affordably so as to get started testing your business concept, leaving the more comprehensive visual identity work till much later.

Once you’ve thought through and tested your positioning, name, niche, and business model, and identified a winning formula, protected your intellectual property – THAT’s when the time would be right to engage designers to create a visual identity to reflect your brand brief.

Until then, something temporary – or your existing visual identity (if you’re rebranding) will be just fine.

 

Confusion About Branding

As mentioned, I myself was confused about what branding meant when I started my business some 14 years ago.

I made the mistake of paying for expensive “branding” for my business by engaging some designers who provided “branding” services. They had a process to help work out what my brand was, which involved completing a questionnaire, having a meeting and some discussions which I don’t remember at all, nor did I really understand what they meant by their questions. I know they were also trying to understand what intellectual property meant!

They sent me some logo designs afterwards and I picked one I really liked – it had an old fashioned distinctive looking font. And that was it. My brand identity was created around that logo.  I had picked brand colours that I liked before they created the logo, so that was my brand identity work completed.

Why the Brand was Unsuitable

The website they designed for me featured many pictures of musical instruments, including violins and pianos.

At the time being new to business I was quite clueless about all things branding. So, this is the brand I got. It gave a cliché impression about what an intellectual property law firm was all about. The trouble was that I wasn’t a music lawyer, but due to all the musical instruments featured on my site, I kept getting enquiries from musicians who couldn’t afford our services.

This is a mistake I see many businesses making, because they assume branding is about getting a logo and other designs.  They hand themselves over to designers to brand their business and remain clueless about what brand really means.

I should add that the designers were lovely people, and very keen to do their best for me. The problem wasn’t with them. It was simply that I wasn’t ready for the branding process at that time and should have started with someone else who could help me understand what a brand is, and to provide guidance so I could develop my business brand strategy before visiting the design agency for the visual identity work.

How different it was for me second time around, a few years ago.

I decided it was time to rebrand and get a visual identity that was more reflective of our focus as a law firm – namely technology and online business.

This time, I did my homework on my business, mission, values, purpose, positioning and more – as well as some of the research I advocate everyone should do before launching their positioning. I then only opted for the visual identity work AFTER getting clarity on my brand strategy on my own (with the help of a marketer). Therefore, the exercise resulted in a more successful outcome.

Every single business, charity or entity has a ‘brand’ in the sense that they all have an identity rather like you or I have an identity as people.  To work out the details so that what you say, how you operate and what you promise reflect the way you want to be known as a business and brand takes time to think through.

 

Values and Beliefs 

It involves working out which values of founder are to be paramount in establishing what the brand of the business or charity represents. What its personality is, and what it wants to stand for – it needs to be something that resonates with its customers or those they serve.

Working out what you want to uniquely provide to the market, and your marketing messages to evoke a desired response in the minds of your customers through your brand promise is the first step involved to brand your business. Until your business can consistently deliver that, you will not have a brand

Wally Olins, a thought leader in brands and branding says

‘A brand is simply an organisation, or a product, or a service with a personality … Branding can encapsulate both big and important and apparently superficial and trivial issues simultaneously … Branding is not only a design and marketing tool, it should influence everybody in your company, it’s a coordinating resource because it makes the corporation’s activities coherent and above all it makes the strategy of the organisation visible and palpable for all audiences to see’. 

While design helps support the overall impression and feelings a brand wants to evoke and convey, if you don’t first work out your brand strategy for creating a successful business that meets a market need, then no amount of ‘visual identity branding’ will make your business into a successful, coherent brand. 

 

Brand Name

An important point to note is that the good associations that customers have with a brand are, for the most part, transferred to the brand’s name. Just as individuals are identified by their name, so we identify a business primarily by its name.

The name plays a very significant part in the way the law protects a brand. Even if a business has many other symbols, like Coca-Cola has with its distinctive logo or bottle shape, the name is still the most critical component of its identity. This is why you need to work with a trade mark lawyer who “gets” branding for the initial first phase of your branding exercise when you’re developing your brand strategy, and identifying suitable names.

More than 70% of the value in businesses in our digital economy comprises intangible assets. These intangibles include your brand name, logo, website, brochures, and more. They’re impacted by intellectual property laws the world over. Income follows assets. If you own physical property it can generate rental or other income for you. This is well understood in relation to physical property but not so well appreciated when it comes to business assets, such as a brand name or a piece of software.  These assets underpinned with IP protection are where the value in your business will lie as you succeed and grow.

So, start your brand thinking by consulting an IP lawyer, that focuses on trademarks and has a deep understanding and interest in what brands are all about.

 

adobe business

How Adobe’s Company Culture Drives Continuous Success

The fast pace of change can make it challenging to maintain a sustainable, and profitable business. So it helps to look at how others are managing to succeed. In my blog this week I look for clues at Adobe, one of the world’s top brands.

Adobe was founded almost 40 years ago and has established an internal culture that drives success. According to Glassdoor, Adobe employees rate working there at 4.4/5 on average, putting the company in their top 30 US employers, based on employee opinion.

 

What makes the Adobe culture so remarkable?

A quick review of the company website reveals that Chairman, President and CEO Shantanu Narayen is passionate about building and empowering teams to drive product innovation and to scale Adobe’s business globally.

This provides a small insight into the approach to the culture at Adobe, whilst the many leader interviews and other published articles provide us with even further information.

A recent Forbes article explains how Adobe has put the employee at the center of their global well-being program, which is regarded to be a large part of defining the culture at the company. Other staff perks include paid family vacations, health care, and onsite yoga facilities. Their approach to working flexibility is also a major perk, with home working, adjustable working schedules and no restrictions on vacation days, as they are at the discretion of the employee’s manager.

Adobe’s encouragement of employee development is unique with a learning fund of up to $10,000 per year for degrees and certain certifications. That is some serious financial commitment to help their employees to continually develop their skills and knowledge.

You can find out more on my blog about how Adobe creates a culture of creativity and loyalty.

 

What we can learn from Adobe

Small businesses can do a lot when designing their businesses and creating the business brand to ensure they build a brand based around a strong company culture. What we can learn from Adobe if we want to establish our own business culture along positive lines is to think about what we can do as leaders of our business to

  1. Make team members feel valued and motivated by taking the time to show appreciation of good work, thanking people, giving out awards, or financial perks based on performance.
  2. Empower the team by providing the development support and freedom to them to try new ways of working, rather than having to stick to the same old ways. This could just involve giving people time off to do some research on an area of work that interests them, or familiarizing themselves with some new software, etc.
  3. Be committed to employee wellbeing. Adobe’s wellbeing program is recognized as one of the key factors in establishing an award-winning company culture. By introducing wellbeing perks, our businesses can all benefit from healthier, happier employees that are more committed to going the extra mile in their roles.

I will be focusing on more brands in my upcoming blogs to share some of the tried and tested approaches of successful companies so as to help small businesses to grow their own brand.  Be sure to check out my blogs over on the Azrights.com website.

what is brand

What is a Brand? Essential Reading For Every Business

If you prefer to listen/watch a video instead of reading then click here to go to my Youtube channel.

Brand is one of those terms that is bandied around quite a lot so that there is a lot of confusion among business owners about what really matters to their bottom line.

In my next post I will explain why brand management is so critical to business success, but first, let’s start by defining what we mean by “brand”.

For one thing, you don’t need to be big or a household name to be a “brand”.  We all have a name, a way of dressing, talking, and walking and subjects we are known for or topics we tend to talk about.

We have beliefs and opinions, and a certain personality. In short, we’re all known for something.  People have a certain response to us or think of us in a particular way.  That’s our brand.

 

Personal vs Business Brand

In the same way that anyone alive has an identity so that the world can tell one person apart from another, so your business also has an identity – a brand – that is quite separate from your own personal brand.

A company is a different person in the eyes of the law from its founder.  Even if you haven’t incorporated your business and are a sole trader doing business under a trading name (or even under your own name), your business identity will be separate, albeit it may be an extension of you.

 

Designing Your Brand

How you design your business is critical to your long-term success.

Unfortunately, there is so much confusion in the market about “brand” that people don’t easily recognise what to do. One misconception many people have is that branding is all about getting designs done for their business – creating their brand identity.

While visual design is an extremely important component of a brand, it is just one of them. Before you go to anyone to help you “brand” your business or yourself, you should first thoroughly think through your business model, and how you are going to create a good business and brand that’s reliable and known for delivering on a specific promise.

The visual identity is the final aspect of the brand to put in place. Although designers and marketers will be able to help you to fine tune your thinking during the branding process, there is a lot of work that you need to have done before you put yourself in the hands of a third party to be branded. You will get much more long term benefits from the exercise if you don’t jump in too quickly to get your visual identity work carried out.

Prioritise working on your business to think through what the market opportunity might be in your space and get some temporary designs in place for your brand in the meantime.

 

Differentiation is key

Then think about how to differentiate yourself.

Is there a segment of the market that is underserved that you could initially serve? That doesn’t mean you’re going to limit your business to only serving that market sector. You won’t be stuck with just that one niche. It’s quite common to have several niches.

For example, Slaten Law in its early days some 20 years ago stumbled on the pest control industry when it helped a few clients from that industry.  This was a finite universe, where everyone went to the same conventions and read the same publication, Pest Control Today.  So, the firm’s website was revised to feature crawling termites ….and bugs…” The firm went all in on serving that industry.

The firm’s website today has moved on considerably. During its journey to its current situation, it identified further markets, such as Dram Shops, Automotive, Nursing Homes, and therefore no longer used a Pest Control focused website. But the firm’s experience illustrates how powerful it is to focus on one narrow niche at a time.

Once you decide on your initial niche, give yourself time to test the market to assess how it responds to your offerings

Next, find out about Branding Strategy.

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