Your personal brand is an extension of your own personality, your principles and philosophies, and, as long as I’m on an alliterative P kick here, your passions.
Mike Rivera, stand up comic and America’s Most Hilarious Teacher, had this advice for new comics: “Your stage persona is you to the nth degree.” (And, I’m paraphrasing here, because I may have had a couple of drinks in me when we were chatting.) What he means is you exaggerate some aspects of your personality to bring more oomph, passion, and realism to your material.
It’s a pretty good start to your personal brand, too. (Thanks, Mike!) Many small business people and particularly coaches, trainers, and speakers, go into business for themselves because they have a true passion for what they are doing, a passion for that field.
Their experiences shape the principles and philosophies of what they do. They know what works and what doesn’t, and they build those experiences into their products, services, or teachings.
But it’s your personality that drives the way you deliver that content to your clients and, in the end, your personality that attracts your ideal clients, your tribe.
How you want to be perceived by clients, prospects, and peers cannot be radically different from who you really are. Not to sound like everyone’s mom, but pretending to be someone or something you’re not won’t hold up forever. I can play a prim and proper librarian for a while, but at some point, I’m going to blurt out a double entendre and blow my character. That’s why Mike’s advice is dead on. You need to build on your own personality.
Creating Your Personal Brand
So grab a piece of paper and a pen and write down your personality traits. Here’s a list to get you started:
- All Business
- Easy to work with
- Comfortable/Old Hand
- Wise Old Man/Guru
- Wise Woman
- Cutting Edge
- Bad Boy/Girl
You won’t use all of your personality traits in your personal brand, but choose two or three main traits that you feel represent you and your business properly, the way you want to be perceived. Then work those traits into your business.
Start with your tagline. Or even your business name if you don’t have one yet. For example, Integrity Funding; Professional Tax Services; Puppy Love Dog Grooming.
Next, add it into the content you put out. I spent some time doing stand-up comedy and my whole family has a twisted sense of humor. (From both sides – there’s no escaping it.) My clients need to have a sense of humor and they need to be okay with my sense of humor. On my Facebook page, I post an “afternoon funny” every day. These posts get more shares and comments than all my other posts combined and that’s fine by me because I want to work with people who like to have fun. If you have NO sense of humor, I can refer you to someone who is very businesslike and able to keep her sense of humor in check.
Do Your Homework
Just as I have my coaching students check book reviews in their niche to see what readers liked and didn’t like, you should give some serious thought to what you like and don’t like about dealing with various businesses. Everyone rants about poor customer service experiences, but how many turn around and create a follow-up process for their customers that ensures quality and caring?
Doctors’ and dentists’ offices are so overbooked that the waiting room time has become a cliché. Yet, I had a dentist whose wait time was always under five minutes and I usually didn’t have time to pick out a magazine before I was getting called into the treatment room. So yes, it can be done and there’s no excuse for long waits every visit.
Talk to your clients. Find out what they don’t like about other businesses in your niche. They probably have a lot of the same likes and dislikes that you do. In fact, your brand, whether you know it or not, probably already takes some of these factors into account which is why your clients were attracted to you in the first place. What I’d like is for your personal brand to be more of a conscious choice.
Transparency and Authenticity
There’s a lot of talk these days about transparency and “being” authentic. I’m old school—you are what you are. If you have to work at “being” authentic, something’s wrong, either with you or your business. (The doctor is in. 5¢ please.)
But I also understand where that comes from. It took me years of doing standup comedy and really, hundreds of comedy traffic school classes, before I finally got comfortable with being me. (Some might say a little too comfortable…) So, not to go all psychobabble on you, you have to be comfortable with who you are and confident of your ability to deliver what your clients need.
I see it as a chicken and egg type situation. Your personal brand is built on two or three aspects of your personality. You need to OWN these traits, not just be okay with them, but take them as a point of pride. Maybe you need to grow into them. That’s okay. The point is that those traits are part of your personality—all you have to do is raise them to the nth power.
Trying to be something you’re not is always going to have a flat ring to it. People might not be able to put their finger on exactly what’s wrong, but they will sense a disconnect between you and your business and instinctively shy away. Use your most relevant personality traits to build your personal brand which will in turn influence your business brand.
This gives your brand depth. Too many people think brand can be built on a tagline or a caricature or a logo. Your brand, personal and business, is an extension of you. And it’s up to you to shape and therefore control your brand.