Well friends, I’m sure that there are a lot of people that already have this personal brand stuff figured out, but there may be some of you reading this blog or listening to the Podcast that need a bit more clarification to what all this ‘personal brand’ stuff is and how they should think of it.
Because for me, when I started out, the meaning has sort of shifted a bit over the past 20 years and to be honest, I really like the way the definition evolved over time.
And just to be clear, when I started my IT business in 2002, I didn’t start out with a personal brand. I thought it was a good idea to have sort of a corporate identity and had this more corporate name and logo to make it seem like I’m more professional and maybe bigger than I really was.
I started out as Net Essentials Inc. and had the domain name and website to match and I really didn’t know too much about the personal brand image and what I should even do with that sort of identity.
And when you Google the term now, you’ll get a lot of different perspectives on this but really it all comes down to your personal identity and how you present it.
Since it’s a personal brand, it’s all about you. Your:
But when I say it’s all about you, what I don’t mean is that the messaging for your personal brand needs to be all about you, because that would turn a lot of people…probably everybody off and they’d run away from you as fast as they could.
There needs to be a perspective in place with your messaging that takes your ideas and expertise and your reputation and personality but you’re presenting yourself in such a way that you’re showing people how you can help them with the problem they have..through your ideas and expertise and your reputation and personality.
Your personal brand is both all about you, but all about them as well. ‘Them’ being your target audience. How you can help them.
So let’s talk a little about your personal brand identity and how it can be both all about you and all about them at the same time.
There are 3 V’s that I like to use when explaining this ‘identity’ part of the definition. Your:
1. Visual identity
2. Verbal identity
3. Values identity
So let’s talk about this for a bit.
Your visual identity
This goes along with how your presenting yourself on your website and social media. How are you being perceived? And I always recommend that you think this through when you’re putting content on the Internet because sometimes some questionable content could come back to haunt you.
And the spectrum is very wide for this visual identity. I’m not advocating that every bit of content needs to always be professional and that people shouldn’t see your personal side, and then on the flip side, it you’re too personal and not professional enough that sort of content won’t help to grow your business either.
But there needs to be a balance of both personal and professional content that you put on your website and social media accounts.
When people first land on your website or social media account, what’s the first impression that they have of you? What’s your visual identity and does it invite more people in to see more?
Or is it turning some people off?
Next comes the verbal identity. Now, when I use the word ‘verbal’ it doesn’t necessarily mean ‘what you say’ exactly, but more about ‘what your message is to the world’.
What’s your message and how are you presenting this message? What’s your content and how is it helping people solve a problem? Because remember, a little bit ago, I was saying that there needs to be a ‘I can solve your problem’ perspective in the personal brand image.
So when it comes down to your content, you can develop better content by always having your target audience in mind and by presenting your message in a way that makes them feel like you’re talking to one person. Just them.
You’re being personal to someone that you don’t even know yet. And that can be a little tricky at times, but if you’re sincerely trying to help people solve a problem, just present it in a way that makes them feel like they’re sitting across the table from you.
This will be your verbal identity.
Now last in the 3 V’s is ‘Values’.
What do you believe and how you weave that into the content. Now, I’m not talking about religious beliefs per se, but if that’s what your personal brand is all about, then yes, go for it. Tim Tebow is a great example of that. His personal brand is all about his faith and how he helps people to make their lives better.
But for the most part, your values identity will shine through as you present who you are and how you do business.
For example, I posted something on LinkedIn this morning that referred to how I can help someone that wants to have copy written for their website, landing page, lead magnet or email marketing. But when I referred to writing the copy, I put in parenthesis ‘ethical’ copy. Because the copy that some people use, crosses the line of good ethics and either misrepresents or lays a huge guilt trip on you that you don’t need to try to make you buy their ‘thing’ that they’re selling.
So when you’re putting content out there in your website or landing page or email marketing…or whatever…you’re always giving people a glimpse of who you are as a person and the values that you have both personally and professionally as well.
So those are the 3 V’s. Visual, verbal and values.
Do You Need a Personal Brand?
But what if you’re still trying to decide if you actually need a personal brand? Am I saying that everyone needs to have one? No.
You may be in a situation with your business where you don’t actually need to have that personal brand image.
There are plenty of examples where someone started an online business but used a more corporate model. Prudential Insurance, for example. Since it has ‘insurance’ in the name, we know what it’s about and what they offer.
‘The Family Foundation’ is a non profit organization, but you can tell by the name, that they’re into solving problems that have to do with the family unit.
So if you’re not going to have a personal brand image, then I would recommend that you include the purpose or type of business in the name.
• Richmond Real Estate
• Advanced Auto Repair
You get the picture.
What to name your personal brand business?
But if you’re thinking about a personal brand, then I usually recommend that you call it after yourself. That’s what makes it personal. Because, really, when I was Net Essentials Inc, I didn’t want people to think of me as ‘the president of Net Essentials Inc.’, but I wanted people to say ‘hey, call Tom’, or ‘we need to get Tom Clairmont over here to help us with this.’ That’s what I wanted. I wanted them to think of me, or to refer me, not ‘you should call Net Essentials Inc. They’ll help you with that.’ Because there was no ‘they’. It was just me anyway.
So, if it’s just you in this picture, then use your name. But be aware that the Internet has a memory. A long one. So if you’re using your name, you’re putting yourself out there for everybody to see. Friends, family, potential clients, potential employers…it’s all visible.
Now, just as a side note, so you can see a little bit more of where I’m coming from, I, of course, registered the domain name www.tomclairmont.com, but I also bought the domain name www.thomasclairmont.com. Why? Because if there was a Thomas Clairmont out there in the world that wanted to have a website and give the world a totally different message and image as to what I was presenting, then it would totally confuse my target audience. So for a few dollars a year, I own both domain names so that I can control my personal brand image better and protect that image better.
OK? So I hope that this helps to clear up some misconceptions that are out there on this topic and that this episode will help you to form your own personal brand…or not. But either way, if you do pick a personal brand or you want to have a more corporate name, you’ll have at least thought it through a little better.
Does all this sound good? I recommend you spend some time thinking this through because if you decide to start a personal brand business or if you think it’s time to switch, like I did, you’ll need to make some changes to the business plan and how you’re going to market and promote yourself.
Because when you do make the switch, from a corporate brand to a personal brand, you’re now claiming a new identity in a way. Yes, your clients and prospects probably already knew that your business was just yourself, but now, after making the switch official, you have to turn off the corporate image and promotion and turn on the new personal brand you in all your documentation, social media and email marketing. It can be a big deal, depending on how many marketing and promotional tools you already have in place.
So think this through. You’ll be glad you did.
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