If you’re a solo business owner or have a small startup team, you might question why do you need to create a personal brand, and what this has to do with “being seen,” anyway.
My first year as a solo business owner was pretty good – a 6-figure year. But spending time on MY work to grow my business wasn’t a priority. I was just focused on taking clients and doing WAY TOO MUCH work. I did what I could to create an online presence, but no so much a brand at all.
I’ve been a referral-based business, so who cares about being seen if you’re getting clients and doing just fine financially?
Well, remember when you were a kid and you thought that closing your eyes would make you disappear? I feel like I’ve been doing that for a while now. I buried myself behind my start-up business that (for a long time) didn’t have a website or a Facebook page.
I was convinced if I just could just hang low, I was totally safe. No one would see me and they wouldn’t need to. I didn’t admit it then, but I had (and still have) a fear of being seen.
If you’ve ever felt this, you know that this simply translates into the fear of someone coming out and saying “You’re a crazy fool for starting your own business.” Or “who do YOU think you are?” Or “You’re not good enough to do this.”
And this is when the wave of ugly surges through your brain, taunting you… “Damn, I should have gone to business school or at least taken that Economics class my father kept nagging me about, instead of all those Lit and art classes. Maybe I should go get that Master’s Degree and shut down this shit-show.”
Being seen means you have to step out.
It also means you need a brand.
What does it mean to create a personal brand, anyway… and what does it have to do with “being seen?”
When I say “brand” I am not talking about logos and fonts. That’s a visual brand- also necessary at some point, just not what I’m referring to right now.
I’m talking about how you put yourself out there.
It’s who you claim to be, what your “schtick” is, what makes you totally unique. And this, of course, includes what you say and how you’re saying it.
In other words, how you market yourself.
Seth Godin: “A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another. If the consumer (whether it’s a business, a buyer, a voter or a donor) doesn’t pay a premium, make a selection or spread the word, then no brand value exists for that consumer.”
When you’re in startup, not having a brand is forgivable (where I was last year). But if you let that go on too long, it becomes dangerous.
Having a brand identity…
- …helps you to speak to your ideal client. See, your brand really isn’t just about you. It’s also about your ideal client. Which means that you’re telling THEIR story even more than you’re telling yours. The messaging you use — the words you weave together will attract or repel them. If you just talk about yourself, you’ll lose them.
- …adds to your credibility, which makes your customers trust you. You’re the real deal in their eyes. You take your business seriously, so it follows you’ll take their business seriously.
And that is how we got from being seen to creating a brand.
Here’s a #TRUTH (my “#TRUTHS” are about coming clean and sharing what it’s really like back here – good, bad, and ugly) What I’ve been realizing is that I need to take myself and my business just as seriously as I take my clients and their businesses. And really, maybe even more so.
What if you aren’t sure if you have a good brand or any brand at all?
Then it’s a good idea to understand how to evaluate that.
One secret behind a great personal brand…
You can brainstorm and get super creative, but at the end of the day, I believe there is one secret behind a great brand.
It is this…
You can be one expert or a company, either way, this is key. Knowing what you’re about, why you’re doing this in the first place, what you believe, and what exactly it is that you do … all of this is what you have to not only discover but learn to articulate.
If you don’t know what you’re about, then you cannot communicate in a way that your prospects will hear you.
Here’s how branding guru Gary Vaynerchuk explains it:
“‘My game is about me knowing myself,’ Vaynerchuk says. He only focuses on his content and his audience…. Too often we pay attention to what other people are doing and we forget to play our own game. Instead of worrying about others, Vaynerchuk recommended creating more content, engaging your audience and testing your ads.” (Inc.com)
What I see constantly is that my clients are so focused on what everyone else in their industry is doing, that it becomes a complete and very hairy distraction. Just like those emails in my promotions tab. The temptation becomes to be like them –
But, what works for one business, does NOT necessarily work for yours.
You can collect everyone’s emails, swipe all the tactics and tips and tools they use, but until you stop to figure out what you’re doing and how you’re going to position yourself — and why anyone should give two shits about it…
Well then, you’ve got nothing.
In other words, know thyself.
I’m the first to say it can be crazy scary to look in the mirror, put yourself out there, and be seen by your prospects, colleagues, ex-bosses, friends, even ex-boyfriends…
But, when you have a system for doing it that gives you an end product, it’s actually fun! When I do this for my clients, I’m able to see them in a light they just can’t see for themselves.
What I know for sure is that each one of you really does have something outstandingly unique, smart, revolutionary… something. There’s always something.
If you don’t feel like you have a unique brand, or you’re finding that you get lost in the online noise and aren’t getting the attention of your ideal client, give this a shot. I’m betting that you are more unique and powerful than you think you are.
Share your #TRUTH with me about where you are in your biz, in the comments below.