Why Personal Branding is Crucial for Entrepreneurs – Brand vs. Branding

I can’t stress enough how important personal branding is for entrepreneurs. You may not realize it, but each one of us is a brand. Type your name into any search engine and the results will show you exactly what your online brand is. Did you make a conscious effort to create and promote your brand? Does it accurately represent you? Is it targeted towards a specific audience?

 

Although the words brand and branding are often used synonymously or confused with each other, they are separate and unique.

What exactly is a brand? A brand is your unique identifier, your market identity. It represents you in the marketplace – who you are, what you do, your reputation, trustworthiness, and the quality of your product or service. Your brand is how your customers perceive you and how they feel when they do business with you.

Sir Richard Branson is the perfect example of a personal brand. Although he’s the founder of the Virgin properties – Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Mobile and Virgin Records among others, Sir Richard Branson’s personal brand is the most powerful of all. People want to do business with the Virgin properties because of Sir Richard Branson. The personal brand drives the corporate brand.

Personal branding has become increasingly important. People trust people, not corporations. They want to do business with people, not corporations. Your personal brand is your differentiator. It creates an emotional connection between you and your customer. Ultimately, it defines the value of your business. In order to stay competitive in today’s marketplace, you must have a strong personal brand.

Branding is the active process that shapes your brand. It requires a strategy and targets your core audience. Branding can include the name of your company, logo, other visual assets, website, communications and media.

 

Entrepreneurs who are more influential pay more attention to their brand rather than just their branding. As an entrepreneur, how can you build your brand? Ask yourself:

  • Who are you? What do you stand for? What do you offer? How are you perceived by others? How do you want to be perceived by others? Be authentic. Your brand should be reflective of who you are.
  • What do you do? What product or service do you offer? What is your value proposition? What differentiates you from your competition?
  • Why does it matter? Define your purpose. This will give you great direction.

 

Evaluate your brand. Your brand should tell people who you are, what you offer and differentiate you from your competition. Is your brand reaching your target audience? Are they responding positively? Are you delivering on your brand promise? If not, it’s time to reassess and make changes.

 

Is your personal brand and branding effort working for you? Want more advice on brands and branding, or general advice from other business owners like you? Find out if a TAB Board is right for you!


Marketing Your Business: You Can’t Rush The Process

Although I am not a marketer, as a business advisor I am often asked what are the most effective ways to market a company. Business owners tend to ask me what tactics they should use to gain the ‘best’ and ‘fastest’ results. My advice is the same for business management: before you execute on a business initiative, you need a plan. Before you implement a marketing tactic, make sure you invest the time and resources in having a professional strategic marketing plan.

As a business owner, you know what you know, and what you don’t. Marketing, as an aspect of a business, is no different. Hiring a strategic marketing agency to develop your strategic plan is just good business sense.

A big part of any strategy is understanding how your customers value what you do for them. Depending on what data you may already have, a strategic marketing agency will conduct in-depth research on your customers and competitors to understand what brought them to you, and also why they stay.

As a result of the research analysis and the agency’s experience, they will be able to create an area of difference for you – something unique that differentiates your business from others in your industry. This brand identity is rooted in what your customers value.

This strategic marketing plan will now act as your roadmap and provide direction for all aspects of your marketing efforts and determine what tactics will be most effective in targeting specific customers. This is similar to how the strategy in a game of chess is needed to determine the moves made on the board.

Once your strategy is complete and you know what tactics are required, you can make an informed decision as to who will implement them. You’ll need to look at your internal resources and skill sets and compare them to external ones. If you choose to take them on in-house, think about who will manage them from a marketing perspective. You may choose to outsource only a portion of your tactics while taking on the rest internally. When it comes to implementation, you have a few options. Taking the time to plan can save your business thousands of dollars in needless tactics.


How Social Media Savvy Are You?

social-media-jigsaw-via-greyweedWith some platforms celebrating almost a decade in existence, it’s safe to say that Social Media is here to stay. Not only has it connected us to friends and family all over the world, it is now engrained in business practices and has become an essential part of connecting with our audiences.

How familiar are you with the different social platforms, either personally or professionally? Do you have a LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter account? Do you post or search for videos on YouTube? Does your company post a corporate blog?

To have a little fun, and show us where the gaps in our understanding may lay when it comes to this new medium, try your hand at the quiz I’ve assembled that asks, How Social Media Savvy Are You?

  1. According to Business Insider, 5 million affluent investors are using social media to research financial decisions. True or False.
  2. Which day is the most popular day for tweets: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. (Choose one)
  3. What is the symbol for hashtag?
  4. You can use a hashtag to mention another user on Twitter. (True or False)
  5. What is the maximum amount of characters you can use in a Tweet?
  6. A live-tweet is the action of sending tweets in order to comment on an event happening live. (True or False)
  7. Google is the most popular search engine. What is the second most popular? Yahoo, YouTube, Bing or Vista. (Choose one)
  8. Which social media platform tops Google as the most trafficked site? Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or YouTube. (Choose one)
  9. A Facebook Page is a profile specifically made for businesses, brands and celebrities. (True or False)
  10. Someone who likes a Facebook Page is called a: Liker, Follower, Fan or Connection. (Choose one)
  11. You can permanently erase a social media post. (True or False)
  12. LinkedIn is NOT:
    • A) The leading online professional directory of individuals and companies
    • B) An online resume
    • C) A platform to share online photo albums
    • D) A networking tool

Quiz Answers:

  1. True
  2. Tuesday
  3. Symbol for hashtag is #
  4. False. Use their handle @User to mention another Twitter user
  5. 140
  6. True
  7. YouTube
  8. Facebook
  9. True
  10. Fan
  11. False
  12. C: You cannot share online photo albums on LinkedIn

How did you do?

If you didn’t do as well as you hoped, don’t write off your social media skills just yet! There are plenty of articles and YouTube videos out there that can take you through the ins and outs of each platform so that you can make use of each tool effectively. Ultimately, your engagement with these tools will support your brand’s online presence so that, at every touch point, your audience receives a consistent message.

If anything, the growth and prevalence of social media in business has shown us that our learning is never done – we must constantly be adding to our inventory of knowledge and adapting with the times, even if it is uncomfortable at first.

Has your business fully incorporated social media into your business strategy? Are you still struggling to see the value of social media to your business? I look forward to you thoughts below.