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Promoting Your Brand

Promoting Your Brand

Promoting Your BrandIn my blog Should you Develop Your Personal Brand? I argued that it is indeed very important to do so, and that it’s not enough to just focus on building the business brand.

The world has changed, and nowadays the personal brand must be part and parcel of the promotional mix. Even if it’s your intention to one day sell your business it’s a mistake to put all your efforts into simply promoting your business or product brand names.

People usually associate brands with companies and products. Consider household name brands like Apple. They have products which include the iPhone, and Mac computers among others, or Microsoft the company has its products OneDrive, Outlook, Word, Excel and more. It’s easy to assume that the focus should be purely on getting name recognition for the company and product brands.

However, both these companies also have dominant personal brands associated with them: Steve Jobs (now replaced with Tim Cook) and Bill Gates (now supplemented by Satya Nadella).

Building a Business Brand

While individuals come with their own personal styles and approaches, business brands have to be specifically created to have a personality and comprehensive messages. The business needs to stand for something and hold out a promise. Branding actively creates the business you want to be known for, and the perception you hope consumers will have when coming into contact with your company, product or service. A business or product brand is essentially comprised of names, logos, any icons, slogans, copy and other collateral.

Most businesses that don’t use the founder’s own name will have the company name to promote as well as one or more products. That is already quite challenging for a small business to deal with so adding the personal brand to the mix might seem a stretch too far.

Certainly, it is much simpler on all counts if you’re just using your personal name for everything. That’s probably why so many coaches and mentors out there do this. Names that come to mind as examples of this include Tony Robbins, Brendon Burchard, Jeff Walker, Marie Forleo and more. Indeed, it seems to be the norm in the personal development industry for thought leaders to be the brand.

There is undoubtedly a marketing efficiency these businesses have of using fewer brands or a singular brand. They have an advantage in brand building and customer communication because they just put all their branding and marketing efforts into promoting one name.

This means they get name recognition more rapidly. It’s like ploughing all your marketing efforts into a single domain. You’re much more likely to rank in the search engines if you are using a single domain name rather than spreading your budget across 2 or 3 domains.

However, unless your focus is on a speaking career, and selling digital courses as part of that, it might not work for you to use your own name as the business’ name despite the undoubted advantage in doing so.

In practice, most businesses will have several brands, and the personal brand will sit alongside them. Examples that come to mind, apart from Apple and Microsoft, include, Elon Musk and Tesla, Richard Branson and Virgin, Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook.

When you have 3 or more brand names, it can nevertheless be quite powerful because it’s possible that one brand will resonate more with someone than the others and they will therefore remember it.

For example, some people may not have a clue who Shireen Smith is, but they have heard of Azrights, or vice versa. Similarly, if people hear the podcast or come across the Brand Tuned branding product, they may not be aware that Brand Tuned is a product that belongs to Azrights.

As Chrissie Lightfoot discussed in the recent podcast interview over on Brand Tuned, having three brands, your company, product or book title and you the person, provides a powerful triage of brands for people to come across.

How 3 or More Brands Can Prove Powerful

Many corporates or blue-chip companies will probably feature in the news or other publications. Other corporates seeing their names in publications might recognise that the company has a strong brand that is known for a specific product or service. Or it may be that your business brand comes up prominently in the search results for specific products and services and carries weight searchers looking for a business to consult.

Most members of the public won’t have a clue about the companies that are written about or that appear in the search engines, because they may not be reading those publications or media or searching for a particular solution. They may not really care about a company brand. But they will have seen some person from that company online on LinkedIn, or wherever they hang out, and they’ve got to know the person.

So there’s a strong personal brand there because there’s a personal presence. Or, some people might have had a third party recommendation when they’re playing on Facebook one day, and seeing somebody recommend a book that they’re reading, such as Legally Branded, and won’t have heard of Azrights the company, but they’ll have remembered the name of the book. So, when you say, have you heard of such and such company, they’ll say no, I haven’t got a clue, what’s Azrights? If you say well, have you heard of Legally Branded, they will say, oh yes. Legally Branded.

These different ways in which people can come across your brand mean that you might be recommended or remembered in a variety of different ways.

Failing to use your personal brand is a mistake because it is a useful way to promote the business brand.

The Need to Be Strategic With Resources

However, it is undoubtedly a mammoth task to try to promote 3 or more brands on social media platforms, and with their own websites. So, you need to be very strategic to use your resources to best effect.

Through my own experience of working this out, I believe that on platforms such as LinkedIn where people are essentially looking to connect with others, rather than with companies, it makes sense to focus on your personal brand. Indeed, on most of the social media platforms people will be wanting to follow other people, rather than logos, so you could just maintain a minor presence for your business or product brands on social media, and put your efforts into promoting your own personal profile instead.

As long as you own the social media handles for your business name and products, you don’t necessarily need to post a lot of content on them. The handles will be available to be used by anyone who may buy the business or product down the line.

Whether you should have a personal, business and product Facebook page, or a YouTube channel for all of these and websites is something you will need to think through as part of your strategy. I’ve certainly made the mistake of having YouTube channels for both my business and personally, and it’s simply too difficult to try to keep both updated. However, now that I have them, they stay, but it’s not necessarily how I would have dealt with it strategically, based on my aspirations for the business.

Once your business has a few people working within it, then the people in your team are all personal brands that have the potential to increase awareness of your business and product brands.

You will therefore have increased ways to be discovered and approached. So, don’t overlook the personal brands of yourself and your team members when you are planning how to promote your 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.

 

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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