Lately I have been discussing with my business advisor marketing strategies to sell my services. I have to admit, it is un uncomfortable place to be, especially if like me the word selling gives you an itch. I started reflecting then on what causes the itching. I am a scientist by education and I know that to find the cure first we need to find the cause…root cause analysis first rule!
The first thing I can't stand about branding gone wrong is the over-self-promotion. Too often followed by under-delivery on promises or expectations. It turns me off when people claim being an innovator or a guru and all I get is instead the same old ideas repeated over and over again, just wrapped in a different package.
The boom of social media, has given wide exposure to every one having an internet connection. To compete with thousands of other fish swimming in the same pool it can be tempting to create "constructed" content with the attempt to filter and showcase flawless perfect images. True attention to details is far better than sloppy, however, we should never confuse it with fake. We need to remember that our audience will not confuse a made-up with an authentic. Too perfect is almost as bad as not perfect enough.
Another thing that bothers me is superficiality. Some might think that creating a catchy headline or tagline is everything. I believe is quite the opposite. If the catchy line is not followed by content it becomes a sure turning off. Reputation is built by focusing on: more and deep. More preparation and deep understanding.
An executive reputation otherwise called brand is forged by standing for something. It is built over time not only for mere profits but to serve our audience.
If the goal of branding is differentiating self/product from others why do we see so much of the same old same? We are all different, we stand for different things, have different dreams and desires. What gets then in the way when we attempt to create our brands? Maybe the fear of failure? This might lead to imitate someone else who is successful to our eyes. Rather than asking critical questions and making research to support effective branding the trap is to fire out many “strategies” prior getting ready. It is like going fishing with the wrong net. Yes, we might still be able to catch something but the real question to answer is whether it was what we wanted. It is not about experimenting and allowing for failure, which is a good lesson, it is rather not investing the time in preparation and becoming clear prior to “getting out there”.
This three steps approach supports the creation and growth of a personal brand that is authentic and competitive.
- Focus on why you do what you do. Even before talking about what you offer ask yourself why you do what you do. For what do you want to be remembered? There is no need to self-censor yourself, stay in the space of what can be possible as long as possible. When we find our purpose we are happier, more committed, more confident and that is very attractive. As Simon Sinek says “people do not buy what you do but why you do it”.
- Once you have found your “why” find a way to connect and interest others. Is your purpose supporting someone or something? How do you support that? It’s important to be clear on what the core of your personal brand is. Enable people to narrow their focus of what you do to help them.
- Build a relationship with your audience. As for any relationship people have to like and trust you. Hence it cannot be only about generating sales. If it is clear that you have to earn money to run your business it is your responsibility to clarify to your audience why you are the right person to "serve" them and not someone else. Why should they trust you? Trust can only be built on authenticity.
Branding has value for ourselves and others only if it takes us where we want to go. It has nothing to do with a job title. We are not a commodity nor are our customers. When we look at branding with these lenses we realise that it isn’t just what we do but also how we do it, for whom we do it and especially why we do it.
It is about the differences that make us unique and the unique value we are willing and capable to bring to others. This value is not built on a catchy line rather on our purpose, strength, experience and expertise. What get us noticed isn’t a flawless picture on social media rather our passion for doing what we do in the exact way we do it. Isn't about showcasing ourselves or products as somebody’s else.
I think that this is an ongoing process which unfolds and grows with us. We are not static we grow and evolve so should our businesses and hence brands.
To recap: start clarifying your purpose and understand how it serves others. Then focus on establishing a presence where it is helpful and accessible to your audience.
By now most of my readers know I am all about humanising business. Why I do this? because I suffered (and like me roughly half of the entire workforce - Gallup 2016 data) from a de-humanised business and especially because I am a firm believer that to create a better world for everyone (no one excluded) we need business to take a lead. It is business’ main reason to exist: resolve needs and respond to demand. How I do that? By supporting leaders and organisation in their journey from self-leadership to leading others and ultimately leading change. Changing the world of business to serve all humankind.
If you are walking this path and think I can share some of my experiences with you I would be happy to chat with you.