Branding Makes You a Babe

Any brand can be a babe.  It’s true.

Just like the perfect hair and a good makeup artist can turn any ugly duckling into a beauty, any person or product/company can be a babe.  It’s been done and you’ve seen a few stars (and companies) it has been done with. We won’t name names.

The same holds true for any brand or product.

While I personally think it’s unethical to market a product or company that you don’t believe in, it is true that an ugly duckling or dud can be spiffed up into a winning brand.

And that’s where this blog comes in.  It’s all about the little tips and secrets the professionals use to make their companies and products shine or not.  Thanks for taking the journey. Let’s start a branding makeover for your product or company.

Personal Branding

What made you want to read about personal branding?  That’s an often overlooked important question for the subject of personal branding.  Why? Because while learning about personal branding is all the rage, rarely do you see any focus or discussion around the most important starting point:  why do you care and what are you striving to accomplish?

Your goal may be different than someone else’s, and it’s essential to define what you’re after.  Are you trying to get a raise or promotion?  Are you trying to get a better job (or just any job in this economy)? Are you trying to succeed in the arts or other areas that require strong personal branding?  Are you trying to get more press?

Once you know what you are trying to accomplish, you can move on to the next step, an often forgotten crucial detail:  who is your audience?

If you are trying to get a job, your audience is different (usually) than if you are trying to make it as a rap artist.  Often people hop into their branding initiative without taking a good hard look at who their audience SHOULD be, so they just do spammy branding with no focus.

No focus often translates into no effect when it comes to almost anything.  So, choose your goal, choose your audience, and then get to the rest of the branding process.  We can go through the major steps of personal branding strategy and give you a checklist to ensure no detail is missed and you get the strongest brand possible. Contact us now and get your personal brand on top.

Sarah Palin and Personal Branding

Sarah Palin.  No matter what you think about her, here’s a woman who’s had it rough.  My personal guess is that she’s smarter than the press makes her out to be.  Who knows . . . . but I do know one thing: someone needed to do better branding for her.  The Democrats are pros at branding and marketing. The Republicans . . . not so much. Or maybe the press just hates them.

I don’t know which is true, but the Republicans don’t exactly make their people appear intelligent or anything positive, in general. I personally don’t enjoy politics, and I don’t affiliate with either party, but both parties’ branding, PR and marketing issues are good to learn from.  It’s too bad we can’t tell from the outside whether people really are who they appear to be. We just can’t. And that is why your personal branding is so important. People don’t know if you’re great at something, so you better make it clear that you are.

You Are Your Logo

Again, you are your logo.  If you want people to think you’re intelligent, you find out what studies have shown make people think you’re intelligent.  Then you have to go past your “logo” and into some other branding and PR/marketing techniques.

Back to Palin, from what I remember, they did have her wearing glasses, which studies have shown makes people think you’re more intelligent than without glasses.  And, she is attractive, which I’m sorry to say studies have also shown makes people think you’re more intelligent. (Although I don’t know if those studies regularly included women, and the results could be different in that case–I’ll have to see what I can find on that and report back.) 

So they had started on the whole logo or image thing.  But they didn’t follow it up with messaging about why she’s so smart, capable, etc.  Just a few facts about something great would have helped.

Then there was the debate over her clothes.  Again, is this a crazy world or what? We have vice presidential candidate and we’re talking about clothes!  But this is the world we are dealing with, and people actually care about these things. Again, that logo that is “you” matters.

But where I think Palin’s branding went wrong is they tried to do the logo part (had her wear glasses, got her more business-like clothes–though they should have done that sooner so it wasn’t a change we all saw).  But they didn’t do the messaging part about her “brand”. They didn’t tell us why she is so great, so smart, so capable of running a country.

Find Your Strength

I believe everyone has greatness, intelligence and capabilities in different things, so each of us has a good branding story to tell.  However, the story wasn’t effectively told in Palin’s case. That’s not to say someone didn’t try, but if they did try, it wasn’t presented in a way that the press or grassroots people picked up on and spread.

Which brings us to an important principle:  You can have a great brand and no one will ever know if you don’t spread the word.

PR and Marketing

Once you’ve done all the brainstorming, decision-making, writing down your brand basics, will it do any good if you don’t spread the word?  Have you ever seen a company that had a great product, great branding and never went anywhere? That can be due to more than just lack of PR and marketing, but more often that not, if no one knows who you are, you have a branding and marketing problem.

So, how do you spread the word once you’ve figured out what that “word” (or message) should be?  Here are just a few of many little efforts you can make that may pay off big:

Branding on Social Sites

All the social sites can help you.  For instance, if your potential customer base is on Twitter, and you want people to know you’re great at basket-weaving, post a few photos of you doing your weaving. Do some live videos. Put tips on YouTube. Tell people why your baskets use the best type of reed or why your certain base design is more long-lasting. The same goes for a design business, software, restaurant, etc. Just make sure you’re posting things that help your followers so they don’t stop following you because all your messages are about “I’m so great at basket weaving.” There are many social media options, and the last thing you want to do is to get so overwhelmed that you don’t post on any of them.  Find out where your target audience is, and go there first. You can add more as you go. Or, if you’re brave, try all the main social media options and then see which deliver best for you and focus on those.

Marketing Collateral

There are unlimited types of marketing collateral, and that’s not the topic of this post, but if you are job hunting or self-employed, make sure all the pieces you create about yourself support your branding and appeal to your target audience.  If you are an attorney, and your positioning is that you are the best corporate lawyer ever, don’t use pink hand-crafted velum business cards, right (in most cases)? Conversely, if you are a Mary Kay representative, you wouldn’t send a party invitation made of wood, usually. 

Most people don’t make such big mistakes, but they do make medium-sized mistakes, like not spending enough time reviewing the “feel” of something that represents them. Again, though, the image you are portraying needs to be what you really offer, not a fabricated “I wish I were a successful licensed attorney”.

So, back to Sarah Palin.  Take the time to practice presenting yourself in the way that is appropriate for what you want and who you are.  Look the part, act the part, and BE the part. That’s excellent branding and execution.

Personal Branding: You Are Your Logo

You are your logo.  In other words, while companies spend many hours, days, weeks and often months on determining the logo that best represents them, you do it every day for years without thinking much about it (or in the case of some of us women, thinking TOO much about it).  Let’s deal with both sides head-on.

  1. If you are the obsessive type, decide right now to pick your “logo” and stop obsessing.  I’ll help you do that.
  2. If you are someone who doesn’t care about what your look says to others, realize that, unfortunately, people do judge you by your clothes, hair, and so on.  It’s just a sad fact of life.

I’m not saying anything drastic is necessary (you don’t have to drop 100 pounds or get a nose job), but do think about the way you want to present yourself to your “target audience”.  Here are a few questions to get you started:

  • Who is your target audience?  In other words, who are you trying to win over?
  • What do they see as your strengths?  What do you see as your strengths? It’s helpful to focus on existing strengths that matter to your target audience.
  • What is the best way to project that image to your target audience? A personal example:  I love suit jackets. I am more comfortable in them and feel ready to work when I’m in one.  However, I have found that when my “target audience” is the type who thinks suit jackets are overly stuffy, I bite the bullet and wear a button-down shirt or whatever is considered appropriate for the people I am speaking with or needing to win over. I’m not going for an image of “stuffy”. I still choose clothing I personally like, but I choose based on the situation and people. When I meet with someone who would be offended by my lack of a suit, I wear a suit. It’s important to know your audience. Sometimes people say, “I want to be me.” I agree with being you! Make sure the “you” that you’re projecting is who you think it is.

To sum up, decide who you are and then present that in a way that your target audience can relate to.  You are your logo, and your appearance needs to represent you correctly. Shine on!

Mitt Romney’s Personal Branding

mitt romney branding

I always feel bad for politicians.  I mean, I don’t know if there is a good, honest politician, but I still feel bad for them.  It must be hard to run for office. What’s worse, though, to a marketing fanatic, is that you can’t control your branding as much as a company can.

Since politics is heavily reported on, you and your personal brand is at the mercy of many, many individuals–most of which probably hate politicians, or at least half of which hate your party–you have to be extremely diligent so others don’t take over your branding campaign against your will.

With that intro, you have to feel bad for Mitt Romney.  Here’s a guy who the media can only define as “Mormon” and who therefore doesn’t get any other soundbites.  Somehow, his people need to find a way to change his brand to his strengths and not his personal religion.

If Romney is ever going to get a chance at winning the presidential race, his people better get a strong, catchy brand and phrase going ASAP.  Otherwise, the only branding he’ll ever have is “Mormon.” Sad for him, but that’s the way the American media and pundits have portrayed him. Not a word on his actual platform or past performance.  Well, okay a few words, but less than 10 percent I can safely estimate.

*Update: Mitt Romney did not win the presidential election.

Good luck to all the candidates everywhere!  Decide who you are and put it everywhere! Otherwise, others will define you and it won’t usually be pretty.

Steve Ballmer’s Personal Branding

Steve Ballmer’s Personal Problems…Personal Branding, That Is

I was reading an article about Steve Ballmer in Business Week and found it very interesting that Ballmer has apparently tripled revenue and more than tripled profit at Microsoft, yet Microsoft’s stock hasn’t risen.  An interesting quote from David Einhorn, a hedge fund manager, gives a hint at the problem. Einhorn states, “His continued presence is the biggest overhang on Microsoft’s stock.”

It sounds like a personal problem.  A personal branding problem, that is.  Ballmer needed and still needs better personal branding.  Now, of course, his monkey boy dance may not have helped (check it out on YouTube), but even that could have been turned around to give him an edge by emphasizing his personality and how it will invigorate Microsoft.  If he and Microsoft had given a little PR effort into his personal brand, it would have helped the company. Instead, not much personal branding has happened until now.

This is the trap we all fall into. Sometimes we care so much about our jobs and our organization that we don’t take time to work on our personal branding.  The interesting problem is that when we aren’t working on our personal branding, someone else is defining us instead.  And that can end up hurting the company.

If you are one that struggles with finding time for personal branding and you care more about the organization you work for than your own branding, remember that it DOES have an effect on your organization.  Even in the workplace, when others are defining you—which usually means it will be in a less negative light, since people unfortunately have problems like jealousy and ego—your lack of positive personal branding can hamper your efforts to accomplish great things at the company.  In extreme cases, it can cause you to no longer be at the company (!), which clearly means you really can’t help the company anymore.

Don’t neglect your personal brand!  It has now become more than just a selfish, ladder-climbing necessity. It’s actually sometimes a selfless necessity for the better of your organization.

Now get out there in your monkey suit and work it, baby.  ?

Beginning Branding

What does branding mean to you, and why does it matter?

When I’m talking about branding to new business owners, I often remember attending a cattle branding when I was five years old. My dad (a complete non-cowboy) had taken me to this “party” and I was shocked at what the main entertainment was.  These poor little calves were caught and held while someone branded them. My alarm was apparent to some of the adults around me, who tried to persuade me that the calves didn’t really feel it. From the calves’ reactions to the branding, it seemed to me that they did, in fact, feel it very much. Or maybe they just didn’t like the lack of control while they were held down. Either way, they didn’t appear to enjoy being branded against their will.

Branding is like that.  You and your business get branded whether you like it or not. People form opinions about you.  Luckily, with personal and business branding, you can formulate a plan and make sure those opinions are positive, accurate and helpful to your bottom line. You can control your branding to a much larger extent than most people realize or take responsibility for.

Branding Defined

Most experts define “branding” as the combined efforts of figuring out what strengths you should emphasize and on emphasizing those strengths in word and design. 

We may think of the Nike “swoosh” or the Apple icon when we think of branding, but as you probably know, there is so much more to branding than just a logo or even a “look and feel”.  In wise branding, you first determine your marketing basics, such as SWOTs, USPs, etc. These necessities set you up for better branding success.

Branding activities can include:

  • Studying your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses.
  • Looking for unrealized opportunities in your targeted markets.
  • Discussing what your corporate strengths are.
  • Discussing what your product strengths are.
  • Deciding what you want your corporate strengths and product strengths to be.
  • Deciphering  the emotions and words that are currently associated with your brand.
  • Determining the emotions and words that you want to come to mind associated with your brand.
  • Developing an overall brand strategy.
  • Developing a look and feel that supports your overall brand strategy.
  • Developing a logo that supports your look and feel AND your overall brand strategy.
  • Creating a brand guidelines document to ensure consistent use of your branding.

What You Can Do

You are already a brand.  It may be a well known brand or not known yet, but already you exist and people associate certain things with you.  

You can change yourself completely or you can tweak things to focus on your strengths and slowly get rid of your weaknesses.

Either way, the results improve when you purposefully think about your branding instead of not being aware of your brand or what your customers think about you.

If You Get Stuck

We can do everything from an external review on your branding plan to competitor branding research to a full branding solution. If you get stuck, we are here to help in any way you need. Drop us a note and let us know what your goals are. We’ll help you get there.