There are more women becoming entrepreneurs, coaches, and going into business for themselves now, more than ever before. And for women who are building a business around themselves as the key service provider, it’s important to stand out so that your customers can identify why you are the one for them, over the other providers out there. This is known as, personal branding. Contrary to the name, while personal branding IS about branding, well, yourself, what’s it’s REALLY about is helping customers find you. Sometimes the phrase, “personal brand,” elicits feelings of ick, overwhelm, confusion, or, the thought that “it’s not for me.” If you are building a service-based business with you as the main provider, whether you’re a coach, consultant, hairstylist, financial planner, photographer, or other service-based business, I’m here to tell you that you ARE in the business of personal branding. But it doesn’t have to feel icky, overwhelming, or out of reach. Here are the top 5 myths about building a personal brand strategy, and how to overcome them:
Myth #1: “Branding Myself is Pretentious”
I’m proud to have grown up with solid Midwest values: honesty, integrity, working hard, and modesty (if you know me, you know I’m all for rocking whatever personal style you desire, from the inside and out, so when it comes to my value for modesty, it really depends on the context. Like, if you’re telling me I shouldn’t eat the entire box of Girl Scout cookies in one sitting, yeah, ok, I can get behind modesty in that). Ahhh the good ole Midwest, where I grew up, where I still live, and I love it and am proud of it. And, in my journey to build two businesses and a band, I’ve recognized some of these values that I’ve had to unlearn, or rather, re-shape my beliefs around. If you were raised like me, you were taught not to be boastful, give kindness, and be charitable simply for the act of giving kindness, and be grateful for what you have. As valuable as these values are, they can cause a quandary when emerging as yourself, in your business, in an increasingly competitive coaching, consulting, freelancing world. The values for working hard, giving to others, and being grateful for what you have, have at times negatively impacted my money story, that warrants a conversation all of it’s so I’ll write about that in a future post (sign up here if you’d like to get blog post notifications). The value here that can really get in your way, is this idea around modesty. If you are the service provider, you have to figure out what differentiates you from your competition. It doesn’t need to be about the way you look or how flashy your marketing is. It has to do with the thing that makes you different, and that will provide value to your customers, thus attracting them to work with you. So, if you’re one of the people thinking that personal branding is pretentious, let me ask you… is serving other’s pretentious? The act of personal branding is the act of emerging in all that you are so that you can serve OTHERS. It’s about you, but it’s more-so, about THEM. When you are who you are, and when you showcase your best self and super-powers through your personal branding, it allows a few things to happen:
- It enables your best prospective customers to find you. Perhaps you specialize in up-leveling for executives who want to break free from the average corporate culture, and your brand is all about forward-thinking company culture, and open-mindedness to who can be a leader, your personal vibe is energetic and innovative. You want to inspire executives to open up creatively. If somebody knows somebody who is an executive who wants to up-level and advance their career but is tired of the corporate game, and tired of the same old executive coaches preaching the same philosophies, they are going to have a better chance of getting referred to you if you are the anti-stuffy executive coach. The more you narrow your message, the wider it goes. You don’t need to be all things to all people, you just need to matter to your ideal client. Deciding to confidently name your game is not being pretentious, it’s a smart positioning strategy, and the more that you showcase who you are, inside and out, the more that your message is heard.
- Secondly, it shows your prospective clients that you are the real deal. You walk the walk, you talk the talk, and you give them the power to see that in themselves, and for themselves. If you’re a life flow coach for busy moms, teaching them how to find balance in motherhood, career-hood, and time for self-care, if you are walking the walk and have found this flow yourself also while working, while taking care of your family, and while juggling life, this shows your prospective clients that they can have it too; it’s about being real. When you show up honestly and peel back the curtain on your business or personal life (depending on your business), your clients will see you for who you are, and will see that they can do it too and that you’re the coach/stylist/consultant for them.
The act of personal branding itself is not pretentious. If you’re a pretentious person, you might come off as pretentious. But if you genuinely want to help others, the best advice is to be authentic and let your true self shine through in your brand, and you will attract those who are meant to work with you.
Myth #2: “I’m too small to have a brand.”
Check out this photo right here: This is my Grandma Shelby. She was wild, outgoing, and made you feel alive and ready to have fun at any moment! And this is Grandma Evie: While Grandma Evie had her wild side too, she was much more calm, collected, and always made everyone feel welcome at her home with plenty of food to go around for everyone and an ear to listen to your woes. A brand is how you make people FEEL. It’s the impression people have about a person, company, or product. Each of my Grannies made someone FEEL something about them, that was their brand. Now, my grannies weren’t in business, but the point is, your customers will have an impression of you and your business, no matter your size, therefore, you are NOT too small to have a brand. Whether you recognize it or not, if you are in business for yourself, you already do have a brand. Your brand is what people say about you when you aren’t in the room. As an individual service provider, if you are the person providing the service, or building a team around you, YOU are the BRAND. And it’s your job to ensure that how you desire for people to feel about you and your services, actually aligns with how customers feel about you.
Myth #3: “I can’t afford to have a brand.”
As we covered in point #2, whether you realize it or not, you already have a brand. I’d argue that you can’t afford NOT to take command of your brand! If you do nothing, you’ll either be overlooked, or people will come to their own conclusions, which may not align with what you desire them to think about you. Therefore, you can’t afford NOT to have a brand. There are 3 main components to developing a brand: The Visual Brand, Brand Messaging, and Brand Positioning. The visual brand is what aesthetically represents your business, including, your logo, website, or any other printed or branded materials. Messaging communicates what you do, why you’re different, and the outcomes or benefits that customers gain by working with you. Messaging includes your tagline and copy used in marketing. The third element of branding is the positioning of your brand. Positioning is all about allowing your business strategy to inform your marketing efforts. Effective positioning involves marketing more strategically to increase profits. A huge key component (and what I argue is the most important in the first few years) is, MESSAGING. This is what allows you to connect with and attract your ideal clients. Developing your messaging requires answering the questions: why you’re different, and the outcomes or benefits that customers gain by working with you. Doing this work takes time, energy, and commitment, but it doesn’t have to cost thousands of dollars. If you aren’t sure if your brand is resonating in the way that you’d like it to, the first thing to do is the internal work to identify what you want for your customers to feel about you and your business. If you aren’t sure how to go about figuring out if your brand is in alignment, check out my free masterclass training here.
Myth #4: “Branding Doesn’t Get Me Sales”
Personal branding is the act of developing targeted messaging, visual appeal that resonates throughout the brand, and positioning yourself in the market so your business can grow. Personal branding is strategic. It helps your best customers to find you. It allows you to build your email marketing funnel with people who either want to work with you now, or later (long-term growth). Personal branding allows you to become an authority in your space. The more that I’ve branded myself as a confident, empowering, rock-n-roll, brand clarity, and brand strategy expert, the more that I’ve attracted companies who are looking for a fun and energetic speaker to speak on marketing (if they want a stiff guy in a suit, they’ll be calling someone else. And that’s ok. Because I am NOT the stiff person in a suit). The more that I share my personal story about how I built my confidence by overcoming money fears, by developing solid packages and pitches, and by uncovering and aligning with my OWN values (not someone else’s) the more that I attract fellow entrepreneurs who are stuck by the same fears and desire someone to coach them through it. Hence: branding got me sales. Branding can get you sales. (remember, branding is not your logo, that’s a brand asset. You could have the best visual assets ever but if you don’t know your true super-power beneath that and who you can help the most, you will struggle to survive in business). It’s like a beautifully wrapped gift, what’s on the inside is really what matters the most, then, we develop the packaging to match what’s inside. Personal branding gets you sales because personal branding builds credibility. You can more easily close sales (and bigger sales) when you have credibility. Believe me yet?
Myth #5: “I’m not unique enough to have a brand.”
Every single one of us is in some way, different from each other. Even identical twins sharing the same DNA will grow into their own individualities as life progresses. Because everyone one of us is different, we will each resonate differently with different people. And if you’re in business, you should be developing your personal brand from early in the game. Think about your 5 closest relationships – perhaps with a parent, sibling, friend, partner, spouse. As alike as you are, I bet you can identify a lot of things that are very different in your decision-making process, your beliefs, interests.
If you’re looking for more help on finding your brand clarity, sign up for my bite-sized email transformations, where I break down (or bite-size) the typical hurdles we encounter as we build and grow our brand.