Your brand is the face of your business. The old cliché – “You only get one chance to make a good first impression!” – is real. This is even more true today when a potential customer has many options to choose from when deciding whether they should hire you, or purchase your product or service.
What business is your brand in? Does your “brand” make a statement? Is it unique? Does it “strike a pose” or get lost in the crowd? How do you offer “superstar” value to your customers? If any of these questions cause you to pause, perhaps your business image is in need of a makeover.
A ‘brand’ is an image, idea, concept, purpose or other feature and benefit, distinguished by a unique set of characteristics, distinctive in manner, that are beneficial to the target customer.
Your brand holds a distinctive position in the mind of your customer. Three questions to ask yourself about your brand:
What makes you stand out? How does your product or service add value to your
customer’s life? What does your brand promise?
Again, we only get one chance to make a good first impression. And, unfortunately, your visual identity is what people see first. Your personal brand and your business brand are seen as interchangeable.
Your brand is tangible and appeals to all human senses. You can see it, touch it, work it, hear it, watch it and move it!
The word ‘identity’ means the individual characteristics by which a thing or person is recognized or known. Your identity, your ID, and what people perceive about your identity, drives the effectiveness of your brand.
Here are five areas that you should be mindful of regarding your personal brand ID:
1. Mind Your Appearance.
The word ‘appearance’ can simply be defined as, “the way something or someone looks on the outside”; it could also mean your look, persona, the way you are seen. It also includes your choice of clothing, accessories, shoes, cleanliness, and personal hygiene. Can you improve upon your appearance? Does everything about your brand fit well and look professional?
Your visual ID is what people see first. This is your “spotlight” for all to see. Your appearance is a brand builder or a brand breaker.
It is from this first impression that doors open for people to respect you, believe in you, and listen to you.
2. Mind Your Speech.
Your speech is equally as important as your appearance. In some instances, speech carries more weight, especially once you’ve passed the appearance test. How is the quality and content of the words that come forth out of your mouth?
Mouths that talk are many, but mouths that speak with the intent to effectively communicate and actually do it well, are rare. Your words should proceed with grace—enough to hold the attention of the person you are trying to communicate with, to the extent that the person is clear about what you are saying, and takes the necessary actions where such is required. Your speech, who you are, how you speak and to whom, is a powerful tool for creating a positive and lasting impression for others.
3. Mind Your Manners.
“A woman is not measured by what she says, but by what she does.” -Unknown
Manners simply imply your behavior or etiquette, those rules that govern socially acceptable behavior. Now, etiquette can be broken down into several areas, including business, social, international, dining, and more. A person’s behavior at certain places and circumstances can be deemed appropriate or inappropriate, depending on the generally accepted norms associated within a culture. Despite the fact that many professional environments are “business casual,” you should still dress appropriately and conduct yourself in a socially acceptable manner.
Learn what is proper to avoid being labeled as a rule breaker—or even an offender of social protocol. Research what is appropriate and inappropriate customs with regard to other cultures and ethnic groups. As global citizens, we are to conduct ourselves appropriately in all settings. Additionally, your non-verbal cues are also important. When we meet and engage with others, your behavior and conduct ultimately impacts brand perception, which leads to strong opinions and judgments formed—positive or negative—about you or what your brand promises.
4. Mind Your Reputation.
“Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.” – The Wizard of Oz
You are only as good as your reputation. Protect and manage your reputation at all times. Your reputation predetermines the influence you’ll have over your potential customers. Your reputation speaks volumes as to the character of your brand.
Your good name increases customer loyalty. It secures the lifecycle of your brand. Having a strong brand reputation creates a deep, emotional relationship with your existing customer base while simultaneously building credibility with new customers. Even in the age of new technology, word of mouth is still the best form of advertising. Social media is word of mouth on steroids! Our character exposes us — the good, the bad and the ugly!
“Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
– Jeff Bezos, CEO/Founder,
Minding your reputation also means that you do what you do, and do it well. Provide over-the-top customer service so that people are delighted to recommend and refer you to others. Everything about your brand should be intentional. Excellence or nothing at all! Your reputation is the “shine” of your brand. It goes before you. Make sure your “street cred” is on point!
Society will observe and judge your qualities, and decide to use your brand based on your reputation and the service that you provide your customers.
Nearly everything about you can be researched and found on the Internet. Your perceived reputation — whether you like it or not — is public information. Google yourself. What comes up? If links come up that are unfavorable, or they provide incorrect or out-of-date information, consider managing your Google search engine results. You want to ensure that whenever someone searches for your name, your best links appear. This could be your website, your blog or your social media channels. As a small business owner or executive, your Google search engine results serve as your online reputation. Take charge of it, especially since it could mean the success or failure of your personal brand.
5. Mind Your Value
“Cement your presence based on the value you bring so your future is secure.” -Marshawn Evans Daniels, author, “SKIRTS in the Boardroom”
Self-confidence and a positive self-image will skyrocket you to success. A lack of self-confidence usually implies non-assertiveness. The assertive, yet gracious woman, creates opportunity. Ninety-nine percent of the world stands aside for the one percent who know where they are going. What group are you in? The image you project, your brand brilliance, is vital to your success and for your own self-significance. How well your brand is perceived or valued by others is directly connected to your confidence and your self-worth.
In conclusion, the spotlight is on you! Your brand is at the very top of mind of your customer and those within your direct sphere of influence. It is exposed and judged based on the experiences received— whenever they come in contact with you directly or not. Their perception of you is largely based on your confidence, self-worth, appearance, speech, manners, and reputation. Put these in perspective, and you will be well on your way to striking a superstar pose – a strong and compelling brand in today’s global marketplace.