Maria Ross joins the 20th session of Smart Brand Marketing with your host Tom Libelt.
In the rap industry as you’re starting out its good to figure whether you are going to be the poor, nasty, classy, rich etc…. rapper. This is a decision that is made before hand and it helps you define your persona.
Personal branding in the online business community is the same but most people never figure this out and usually try to copy other people’s traits or they fumble around for a long time wondering why others do not connect with them.
This process is what this episode is about.
Defining Your Personal Brand
Standing out is becoming an increasingly important objective for businesses in the online world now. After all, there is just too many businesses and brands right now that offer the same products and services that it’s becoming hard to make your own brand to make itself distinguishable in the market.
Surprisingly enough, you as the business owner can do a lot that can either improve or impede your business’s brand and this has much to do with the way you conduct yourself in the market.
Jeff Bezos, of Amazon fame, once said that your brand is the things that people say about you when you are not in the room. It’s not something that you can manufacture nor control since it’s based on how people treat and regard your business. For this reason, it’s time that you should re-consider the way your persona and the actions you make can affect your brand in the market.
Why Does Your Reputation Affect Your Brand?
You have to think of it this way: Your business’s social image is actually affected by two things which are a.) It’s own branding and b.) The personalities of those that own and operate it. Now, if you put these two together, which of them actually exists? And by existing, we mean taking up actual space in the real world?
No matter how well you created your business’s branding, the first thing that people see is, well, you. Whatever branding you have made is simply a face for the business but your actions tend to have more weight in influencing your reputation in the real world. In other words, branding only helps in making you recognizable, the persona you evoke as the leader will be the one that people identify with when it comes to your business.
This is why when we hear of “Trump”, we don’t immediately think of a conglomerate of successful businesses but a loud business mogul turned President of the USA. It’s why when we think of Yeezy, we associate the business more with Kanye West and less with his shoes.
Also, consider every major brand out there that has dropped a celebrity as their spokesperson after said people were accused of something serious. It’s because the reputation of those people will negatively affect the image of the brand since allowing them to remain as the face of the business is an indirect implication that they are condoning whatever that person has allegedly done. And most business’s won’t rather get caught with the fallout of that person’s public meltdown.
There are a whole lot of other examples out there but the point is that you as the owner can have a considerable effect on your business’s branding, whether you intentionally do it or not.
What Does Exactly Affect Brand Reputation?
Since we’ve pretty much established that you as the owner can have an effect on your business’s image, the question is how you will do it. More often than not, a business’s reputation is going to be affected by you in four aspects.
- 1. AppearanceThis covers everything that can be observable in your business including the business’s layout, the types of fonts you use, and, of course, the marketing strategies you are employing. Aside from this, the way you look as the business owner will also affect it. Do you look clean cut and dress properly for appointments or do you look like an extra from Wayne’s World? There is no correct answer to this but just know that the way you look in public will affect how people regard your business.
- 2. WordsThis includes every spoken and written word you release to the public. Now, keep in mind that people have their own style of speaking which includes the words that they like to use and even how they use it. For instance, being flippant might make you resonate more with younger audiences while using more professional words tends to make you more popular with older people.
The things you talk about will also affect your business’s branding. Those that have been doing podcasts for their marketing tend to attract certain demographics (again, whether they intended it or not) with just the topics they cover or the guests they usually invite.
- 3. ToneIt’s not just what words you use but how you deliver it that can affect your business’s reputation. Again, there is no “best” tone for you to use but make it a point to match it with the overall image of your brand. For example, Trump’s loud and abrasive tone might not work well if others use it but it damn well does for him since that was the image that he has been trying to project in public.
As for the rest, using a calmer and direct tone might work as you do want to get your point across but without the risk of offending anyone. Using a gentler tone for your voice has even worked for some businesses especially ones that offer healthcare and other similar services.
- 4. ActionsNow this is something that can affect your business’s reputation heavily by virtue of creating results that are directly felt and observed. The way you conduct yourself in public and even the decisions you make for the business will shape how the public thinks of you.
Aside from your marketing campaigns, publicity stunts, and other planned projects, the way you deal with customers on a daily basis and especially emergency situations will also affect your reputation. Just consider that bakery that refused to make a cake for a gay couple because of their religious beliefs. There was always the option that said couple would have looked for another accommodating baker but the resulting controversy did negatively affect the business’s image to a lot of people or, at least to those with left-leaning beliefs.
Creating Your Own Personal Brand
Believe it or not, creating your own brand is not as difficult as you think it is but here’s the kicker: your personal brand is not exactly all about you. It’s a sum total of experiences detailing what you have done and what you can do for other people; especially for other people.
To create one easily, it’s best you pay attention to a few tips.
- 1. Find an OpportunityThe best kind of brands out there actually answer one specific question: What needs in the public can I address? Sure, you can create a personal brand out of the things that you like but, that’s just it. It’s the things that you like and it may or may not be the same thing that people like or, better yet, need.
Instead of focusing on your passions too much, try to also ask around for what other things people are passionate about and come into a compromise. Also identify what you can do to provide for that need and this is where your skills, passions, and interest come into play.
- 2. Never Underestimate the AudienceOne thing that can seriously ruin any brand is when the business owner starts thinking that they know what their market needs better than that market does. There is no shortage of examples out there of brands that fall from grace all because top executives started thinking that they can dictate what the market needs and the people will just accept it without giving any second thought.
Take a look at Star Wars, for example. It’s recently facing some issues regarding its performance at the box office especially with the last two films, Solo and The Last Jedi. Most long-time fans point the blame towards Lucasfilm management over their insistence on “subverting all expectations” and telling the people that the “Force is Female” when what the people wanted for Star Wars is a simple space opera. No SJW politics, No turning of old characters into incompetent cowards, and no feminism-leaning narrative. Just a simple story of people fighting against an empire with blasters, lightsabers, and the Force.
As such, it’s easy to see why Solo is performing rather poorly in theaters right now and The Last Jedi is hailed as one of the worst Star Wars films to date. And if you’re hated more than the Prequels of the Star Wars Christmas Special, you’ve effectively failed as a Star Wars movie as far as the fans are concerned.
- 3. Prepare an Elevator PitchHollywood writers know this trick as they often to pitch their ideas in a few words because, well, executives are that busy and can’t stay in one place for too long. And thus, Aliens was pitched as “Jaws in Space” and Edge of Tomorrow as “Groundhog’s Day with Aliens and Guns”. As for Deadpool, we can assume that the pitch was “Ferris Bueller on Spandex” or something to that effect.
You can use the same tactic for introducing your brand to people. You have always to keep in mind that potential customers cannot commit to listening to your life story as they have something else better to do. Practice delivering your message in a way that you can get to the point in just a few sentences.
- 4. Sell the UniquenessWhat feature or quality does your brand have that makes it stand out from the rest? Find that out and use every opportunity you have to tell your audience about it. The reason for this is simple: when you break it down, you are effectively just selling the same products and services as with the rest of the competition. You need something that can spice things up and make your offers stand out in the market.
The most obvious way to stand out is to be the best in that field. Offer top-quality services, be the most creative and efficient, or offer a customer experience that no other business can copy.
If being the best is not yet possible, then the next best thing is to offer a specialized version of whatever everyone else is offering. If, say, you are an advertising firm, then you can offer advertising services geared towards pet shop owners or healthcare providers. The point here is that you hyper-focus your services towards a very specific niche in order to stand out.
- 5. Be AuthenticAuthenticity is the one thing that connects you with your market. If done right, it will not only not connect your customers to you but also allow them to trust you, keep engaging with you, and the finally tell other people about you.
So how do you go about being authentic? For starters, you can start by defining your values. These can range from being accountable for all of your actions or being innovative. You can even add more social values such as care for the environment, diversity, and LGBTQ rights.
However, having values is just part of the question. You also need to translate these values into tangible action. Simply put, you must make sure that everything you put out for the general public to see and use should reflect these values.
This is where consistency comes into play, the ability to practice what you preach. If you are consistent with whatever you promise and what you deliver, then you can put out a good image for your brand and your business, in turn, can enjoy from several rewards, income being one of them.
To Wrap Things Up
All of these factors just tells you that you should have a solid Public Relations initiative in your business that can help you mold your business’s image to something that matches your vision for it.
It also helps that you as the business owner tend to be more careful with your dealings with other people. After all, it takes so little to change the public perception about you and your business.
What other methods have you used to define your own brand in the market? Are there are any other challenges that you know off that can keep businesses from connecting with their customers and standing out from the competition? Let us know in the comments below.
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