Sometimes in the world of marketing, we get a little “cart before the horse”. Everyone is always focused on marketing a brand, selling a brand, pushing a brand. This is all well and good, but how does one create a brand? What are the steps required to make sure that the brand created is functional and memorable? In short, how is a brand made? While it can be daunting to attempt to boil any idea, business, or physical entity, down into a recognizable two-dimensional visual representation, there are some steps one can take to make the process easier and more successful.
Since branding can take many forms, for the sake of this article, we will focus primarily on the process of personal branding, and the effective creation of a personal business identity. A brand is what was formerly referred to as a trademark. As defined by the American Marketing Association, it is a “name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.” In the case of a personal brand, it is also referred to as a “trade name”. To generate a personal brand successfully, use the three steps below as a jumping off point.
A. Define Yourself
This is actually the most difficult step, and the portion of the process you should plan to spend the most time developing. Ask yourself how people perceive you. What words do they use to describe you and your business? What aspect of yourself are you attempting to sell or market? What aspect of yourself or business is unique and sets you apart from other similar types or companies? What is your niche market? Look at the answers to these questions.
It may also be helpful to create a map, or plan of what you hope to accomplish by branding yourself. Make sure that you use the information you glean from those around you, to further your goals for yourself. Finally, create a name, based on these ideas.
B. The Two-Dimensional You
Remember that a personal brand is, in essence, your visual package. It’s the athlete on the box of Wheaties at the grocery store. The baby, sitting in the Michelin tire. The little boy fishing that opens every motion picture produced by Dreamworks.
Now that you have defined yourself, it’s time to create a visual representation of that definition. This visual representation of yourself needs to appear everywhere, on any and all media associated with you. Do not be overly esoteric with your design. It is helpful to sit down with friends or associates and brainstorm how the verbal definitions you discovered via Part A, can be visually represented.
Once you have some ideas, look at them across media. Print some out on your computer and see how they look as stationary, as homepage images, as logos on business cards. Ask strangers what the various logos mean to them. Once you are clear about which logo or design is most effective, you are ready to begin to brand yourself publicly.
C. The Media Juggernaut
If you are at the point of creating a personal brand, it is assumed that you have already examined and defined where you want your business to be in one year, three years, five years, etc., and that you have created a solid business plan. It is important to have these ideas in place before you begin to introduce your brand to a wider audience, because the last thing you want to have happen is for your brand to gain negative associations because you were unprepared for business.
Creating a positive reputation is much more effective than attempting to repair a poor one. If you have not yet created a solid business model, do that, then proceed with Part C. In order for people to find you, you must place your brand where it can be discovered. In today’s market, that means, literally, everywhere. Create an online presence with a clear and recognizable email address, a personal website, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn profiles, blog posts, press releases, Internet business cards and email marketing, the use of an online portfolio, and targeted online advertising.
Create a physical presence with business cards, resumes, reference documents, and carry representative work on your handheld device, CD, DVD, or flash drive, so that it can be shown to somebody immediately, if necessary. With all of these marketing tools, the presence of your brand, the design that represents you, is vital. Your personal brand should appear on everything. Repetition breeds recognition, so the more you can get your name, and the images associated with it, out there into the public eye, the more successful your brand will be.
Though it may seem like a lot to take on, personal branding is incredibly important in the development of a thriving personal business. Done correctly, it can propel you, and your product or company, into an incredible future. You owe it to yourself to take the time to create the best representation of yourself that you can. Remember, you never get a second chance to make a first impression, and in this age of multimedia and online marketing, that first impression is your brand.
To learn more, check out our Personal Branding Workshops running in the UK and further afield.
Susan Black is a tech and web geek who spends most of her working week reading and writing on marketing techniques, both online and off. She writes here for discount sofa specialists sofasandsectionals (dot com).