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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.

 

Licensing Fran

Licensing or Franchising To Take Your Business to the Next Level

Licensing FranschisingLicensing and franchising are effective ways to take your business to the next level.

Businesses in the UK that are thinking about whether to franchise their business have the option to use a simpler, cheaper approach to achieve the same ends, namely licensing.

What are the considerations when choosing between the two options?

Both options involve finding people with the right skills to be trainable to operate a business using your successful format. They’ll invest to buy the rights to use your brand name and methodology and their chances of success in business will be improved through having access to a tried and tested system that has been proven to work. That’s the essence of the arrangement.

Franchising

Once you select someone to become your franchisee, you will need to train the new recruit in the way you operate your business. They will get access to your proven systems and processes.

Almost any type of business can be franchised.

A franchise leaves you in control of the brand and training, and you’re then giving permission to the franchisee to use your brand and other intellectual property (which includes your know-how) to operate your successful business model.

The franchisee will put up the initial capital for the business, paying you a licence fee. They agree to strictly comply with your established ways of running the business as stipulated in your operations manuals.

The franchisee will be promoting your brand and will expect to have a successful business simply because they will be following a successful proven path. You are expected to provide support to your franchisees in the form of marketing, access to trusted suppliers, systems, and other resources and skills.

Training becomes a core part of your business activity once you take on franchisees.

Permission to use your intellectual property (IP) lies at the heart of a franchise contract.

A franchise agreement will generally give you a lot of control in how the business is run. The franchisee must follow the format extremely closely and not deviate from your established processes and systems. For example, if a customer visits a branch of McDonald’s they must find the familiar products, look and feel and service that they are used to experiencing. There must be no differences that are likely to jar or lead to disappointment.

It’s generally accepted that the slightest difference in the business format could damage the franchisor’s brand, not just that particular outlet. That’s why the franchise agreement will have strict quality control provisions in it, and strong sanctions against a franchisee who attempts to break out and introduce their own ideas.

Licensing

A franchise includes licensing in that “licensing” is a term that simply means the granting of permission to a third party to use the owner’s know-how and other confidential information, trademarks, logos and designs, and copyright materials. For some businesses, there may be patents involved too.

The essence of licensing is also the granting of permissions by the owner to a third party to use some or all its Intellectual Property.

One of the main differences between franchising and a straight licensing arrangement is in the formalities involved to set up a franchise, and the degree of control you retain as franchisor.

If you want to give another business, (perhaps one that’s operating in other parts of the country), permission to use your business format, and don’t want to go through the formality of franchising, then you can create a licensing arrangement based loosely around franchising.

The licensing agreement might impose many of the same controls as a typical franchising deal would include, but without going through the regulations imposed around franchising.

It’s important to make sure the laws of the country in which you’re making your arrangements do not impose fines for effectively running a franchise under a different name. Certainly, in the USA there are hefty fines if you attempt to pass off what is essentially franchising as licensing.

As in all areas of legal life, it’s not what you call something that matters, but what it amounts to in substance.

Some businesses prefer to use licensing rather than franchising. For example, once you receive more enquiries than you can handle, you may decide to use licencing to give other individuals or businesses the right to deliver your solution using your brand. For example, they might continue using their existing business name, and simply offer your product under your brand name as one of their offerings to their clients. They would be trained in your methodology to deliver the product or service to customers in their part of the country.

Brand licensing is how licensing started. I covered this more in Licensing And Franchising, What is The Difference And Does It Matter?

If you have built up a brand name and want to licence third parties to use the name or to deliver a related product using your brand in their own business, then licensing might be a good option.

Conclusion

Any “licensing” deal that is so close to franchising that it blurs the boundary between the two is in truth franchising under another name.

If there are no problems in doing so in your country, then you might want to work towards franchising by using a “licensing” arrangement first. This might be a way to try out the model with a few trusted sources so that rather than diving straight into franchising, with all the due diligence and formalities it entails, you test it out as part of your business model.

The important thing is to use a good agreement that protects your IP. Your brand, patents, know-how, trademarks, etc. These are precious assets, which should not be shared casually. The terms on which you grant licences or franchises need to be carefully considered, and we at Azrights are well placed to support you.