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Do you have a personal brand?

A discussion with friends about what we are good at brought to mind some training I received, back in my BT days, about ‘personal brand’. And it still seems relevant now.

The exercise was designed to help us, as management professionals, understand what makes us stand out from our colleagues. We were asked to identify our values, what we were known for and, importantly whether that matched with our aspirations.

I was rather deflated at the time to settle on ‘getting things done’ as a key element of my personal brand. It didn’t sound as exciting as being ‘the ideas person’, or ‘the life and soul of the party’.

Have a Sharon Day – and get things done!

Over the years, however, I’ve come to take more pride in my ability to get things done and in being recognised as a master of doing (let’s take it as read for this discussion that I’m always doing the right things). My husband’s team even coined the phrase ‘having a Sharon day’ to describe those days when they were really productive!

It’s a double edged sword of course. I’m always busy, get asked to do lots of stuff (because people know it will be done), and have terrible trouble relaxing and switching off (unless I can dress it up as an action point and can tick it off my ‘to do’ list). My lists are legend in our family home and, living with 5 men (not that I’m making any gender-based judgements), I am destined to be constantly let down and frustrated by the fact other people around me are not as productive as me. 🙁

Nevertheless ‘getting things done’ is an authentic part of who I am – definitely a key element of my personal brand (although not the whole story I hope).

Identify the brand values for your business

For many small business owners personal brand is an even more important concept because your personal brand will influence hugely the brand for your business. The values and attitudes you bring to delivering service to your customers will define how you do that: trustworthy, fun, creative, disorganised, organised, friendly, casual, formal, professional, modern, traditional, savvy, naïve, etc.

There’s no right or wrong per se – although some values are certainly more suited to certain professions or types of business than others. And if disorganised is your thing it may well be more than compensated for by your fun, creative side – and the organised people you choose to work alongside you! It certainly wouldn’t do for us to all be the same.

Personal brand is a key way to differentiate your offering from the mass of similar businesses in crowded marketplaces. Because if all other factors are equal it can boil down to the fact that there is no-one else quite like you!

Sometimes you can make yourself and your business stand out by being not at all what is expected – the hippy lawyer for example! As long as you can carry it off successfully, and have other brand values that deliver on what people want and need from their lawyer.

Build your business on those values

From a marketing perspective you can build those values into your business – hence our strapline ‘making marketing happen’. We’re not just experts at marketing, we make things happen – or die trying!

As the business grows the trick is to translate your personal brand values into a company style that continues to differentiate you. The classic example being Richard Branson who broke a few rules at the outset and was able to carry his personal brand through to create a global brand ‘in his own image’.

You can demonstrate your brand values in many different ways – from the colours and images you choose to represent you, to the words you use and way you say things, right through to the behaviours and attitudes you demonstrate to clients, customers and team members.

Personal brands often develop intuitively but it is worth taking some time out to work out what you really stand for – and which of those traits you would like to emphasis in your business.

What is your personal brand?

I’ve mentioned authenticity already. It is very hard to maintain a pretence day after day of being something you’re not, so go with what comes naturally. That doesn’t mean you can’t play down some of the less helpful parts of your personal brand in favour of the ones that really work to help you grow your business.

So – back to the question at the start – do you know what you stand for? What is your personal brand?

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