Why is personal branding important to small business owners
Updated: Dec 31, 2019
What is personal branding?
Believe it or not, personal branding is a term which has been bandied about for the last two decades. It has become more relevant with the mass adoption of social media, allowing us to have unprecedented access to staff, business owners and senior figureheads. When was the last time you Googled someone or looked up their social media profile before you were interviewing or having a meeting because you were curious to learn more? Last week perhaps?
So why should you care about your personal brand? And what does it really mean? Lets explore in more detail and see what expert business owners also think.
A brand called ‘You'
A personal brand is the unique combination of skills and experiences that define you. It is how you present yourself to the world. With Google and social media, nothing is hidden or archived. If you don't define your personal brand, then others will define it for you.
The term originates from an article written by branding guru, Tom Peters over 20 years ago. Tom outlined the idea that all workers regardless of their age or occupation, should control their own careers. He claimed in business, our most important job is to be the head marketer for the brand called ‘You'.
He went on to give some valuable tips to help cement your own personal brand:-
Identify the characteristics that make you distinctive from your competitors and colleagues
What would your colleagues or your customers say is your greatest strength?
What do I want to be famous for?
A useful exercise and one that is still very relevant today.
Ingredients for success
Personal branding, also referred to as personal marketing is another topical term. This is the actual process of creating a personal brand. It is something that needs thought and constant work. As Georgina Edwards Photography confirms"You need to define your own personal brand and then spend time maintaining it to make you stand out from the crowd." NJ Virtual Business Support echoes this advising it isn't just a one off process, but maintaining a good presence and reputation.
Thus, for your personal brand to be successful, you need to align who you are with what you do. Dianne Kennaid from Chic n Cheerful is a strong believer of this commenting "When people meet me, or use my services, what they get is exactly what they are expecting."
Authenticity is instrumental along with seamless alignment across all your platforms both online and face to face. You can't project one view on one platform and come across as the complete opposite in person. As the phrase goes "It does exactly what it says on the tin." Nina Mace Photography is a big advocate of this confirming "A successful personal brand is when your online brand and real-life persona line up perfectly so the transition from online to offline is seamless."
Five ways it can help your business
So we've covered some of the basics of personal branding, but here are five reasons why it could help accelerate your career and boost your business:
1. It allows you to project your individual personality
Personal branding should allow you to be you. No mask, no holding back. It permits you to show life outside the office, giving a glimpse of your interests, your hobbies and even your views.
2. It shows why and how you are different
This is your true unique selling point, your secret weapon. You must spend some time deciphering this otherwise you will blend into the background and simply not be noticed or remembered. I've jotted down some useful questions at the end to help crack this.
3. Shows you behind the scenes
A personal brand can be a powerful and constant way to show true life behind the scenes revealing footage of you interacting with customers and colleagues and going about your everyday business. Carly Stringer from Keystone Virtual reinforces this, commenting"Today's consumers want to hear the story behind the brand and get to know the people they are buying from."
But, you shouldn't just show the glamorous side. We all know that business is about dedication and hard work.
Finally, these behind the scene glimpses provide evidence that you practice what you preach and you are a real person that is relatable.
Personal branding should never be seen as a set of static brand guidelines or a carefully devised advertising campaign, but instead, a personal brand that is lived and breathed constantly, allowing you to be the real you. As Jessica Morgan from Carnsight Communication advises "Owning my own business means I can be true to myself and my own values."
5. Build your network
New opportunities may arise as you seek to amplify your personal brand, ensuring a presence across different platforms. This could result in speaker slots, as well as access to exclusive conferences and specialist networking groups. Over time, you may be seen as an expert or thought leader in your given area as your credibility grows. For tips on how to create a thought leadership programme.
What is more important – building a personal or business brand?
The answer is ideally both! But it can be done successfully leading with one or the other.
Your personal brand drives your actions, your reactions, your interests and maybe even your career choices.
Remember every interaction you have with someone establishes or reinforces your brand in his or her mind.
So here are some pointers to help. Ask yourself the following questions:
What do my clients say about me?
What do my trusted colleagues and friends say about me?
What defines in me in one sentence?
What is the main message I want to tell people?
What are my main passions?
You are a brand!
To conclude using the wise words of Tom Peters, "It's this simple: You are a brand. You are in charge of your brand. There is no single path to success. And there is no one right way to create the brand called You. Except this: Start today. Or else."
I hope you've found this article helpful and it has inspired you to grow your personal brand. I'd love to know what a personal brand means to you?
For a chat about personal branding or any element of your brand or marketing, then please get in touch for a free 30 minute no obligation chat.
Photo credits to Georgina Edwards Photography and a special thanks to Chic n Cheerful, Nina Mace Photography, Carnsight Communications, Keystone Virtual, Georgina Edwards Photography and NJ Virtual Business Support.