If I say “Oprah Winfrey,” you get an instant image in your mind of Oprah: her physical appearance, her personality, her TV shows, her movie roles, her magazine.
As these thoughts flow through your mind, consider that they have been carefully crafted by Oprah’s marketing team over many years to create a consistent brand image of her in your mind.
After all, what is a brand but a harmonious series of images, thoughts, and beliefs about a person, business or product?
We often talk about creating a strong, consistent brand for your business or product.
What if the “product” you’re selling is you? Can you create a personal brand as strong as Oprah’s?
Of course you can!
Stand out from the crowd
Face it — there are many consultants, coaches, professional organizers, graphic designers, attorneys, and dentists out there. If you have lot of competition, what happens when your customer can’t tell you apart from them?
You definitely don’t want people to think of you as “just another life coach,” or “just another website designer,” do you?
There’s only one you. The snapshot you give your customers of who you are and what you stand for is one of the best ways to differentiate yourself from others in your field.
Your personal brand is the ultimate Unique Selling Proposition!
It’s easy to stand out in a crowded marketplace by developing your personal brand.
The good news is that your personal brand is a clear reflection of what already exists inside of you, so you don’t have to manufacture it.
The bad news is that the complexity of who you are is too much for the average person to take in at a glance. You need to manage your personal brand message by simplifying it to the most important qualities you want people to remember.
The four advantages of a personal brand
- It grows your business by attracting the perfect client who feels they can relate with you and your message.
- It identifies who you are and what you specialize in doing. This helps people get to know you as an expert, and as a human being. We don’t buy from businesses, we buy from people, the human face of any business.
- It shortcuts people’s decision-making process. If you quickly capture attention with an alluring brand — with personality, promise, and a message — your prospects will want to learn more. And that leads them toward buying from you and it creates brand loyalty.
- It allows you have a public persona that stands for something strong and compelling, creating consistency and trust.
Follow this seven-step process to establish your personal brand
- Be original. As Bernadette Peters says, “You’ve got to be original. If you’re like everybody else, what do they need you for?” Everyone has a unique story and vision. What’s yours? Are you sharing it with your audience?
- What image do you want to project? Pick three adjectives that describe you. Remember, your audience can’t remember the true complexity of you, your business, and your personality, so shortcut it for them by sticking to just three adjectives.
- How much of your personality, experience and background do you want to show? There are parts of your life that are private, and parts that are open to the public. Choose carefully how much you’re willing to share with your audience.
- How will you show your expertise? It’s not enough to tell them you’ve graduated from a credentialed school or that you’ve been in the business 17 years. What results are you getting for your customers?
- What qualities make you unique? It’s not just one quality, like offering unlimited support calls or that your office is in a convenient location. It’s the combination of several qualities that make you unique.
- What’s your core message? If you had one message you’d like to get out into the world, what would it be?
- How will you match your verbal image to your visual image? Customers take in the totality of who you are. If you say you’re professional, knowledgeable and reliable, and then your wardrobe or website is sloppy, you create discord in your brand. People won’t trust a brand that’s inconsistent. How will you repeat your unique qualities, your image identifiers, and your personal story across all platforms?
Don’t be afraid to be 100% unique
Mary Pickford was one of the first movie stars of the silent screen.
She learned her acting skills with her family’s touring theater troupe and on Broadway, where she had the opportunity to study — and copy — the acting skills of some of the best stage actors that ever lived.
She quickly realized that to be special in the eyes of her audience, she had better be unique rather than imitate the successful actors in her field.
When she thought about copying the leading actors, she told herself:
“No you won’t. If you do that you’ll be just an imitation, and an imitation diamond isn’t worth anything. But a real turquoise is worth something, so be a semi-precious stone, but be real.”
Not only did she have a long-running screen and Broadway career, but she was one of the first female movie producers, co-founding United Artists film studio in 1919. She helped create the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the professional association that brings us the Academy Awards each year.
I know you admire the big players in your industry.
But if you copy their brand, you won’t stand out from the crowd. Don’t follow the herd – be a leader.
Final word: be memorable
Create a clear connection between your personal brand and your business, and watch your customers follow you anywhere.
Whether you run a local business or an international business, whether you are smart or kooky, let your unique light shine. There’s no one quite like you!