7 mistakes with your personal brand
The idea of having - or building - a personal brand can be off-putting for some, but yes, you do need to put some effort into creating one because a strong personal brand that helps you stand out in the crowded corporate space will help push you towards your career or business goals more quickly. So here are the top seven mistakes to avoid when building your personal brand in the corporate arena.
Mistake No #1: Thinking your logo is your brand
Your brand is what people refer to, think of and associate with when they think of you, as your brand. Your logo is a visual extension of this, which is why it’s so important to do some serious thinking about your brand before you begin designing. This includes answering questions such as what do you - as your brand - stand for in the corporate marketplace? What are the personality traits of your brand that corporate business will relate to? How do you want your corporate clients to feel every time they interact with your brand? Your logo should visually represent these answers in a way that corporates understand, recognise instantly and can relate too.
Mistake No #2 - Using an image consultant to develop your brand
Image consultants are skilled at creating a personal look for you through your wardrobe, hair or makeup, but they skip a very basic step: how can they create a branded image for you if you don’t really know what you (as your brand) stands for in the corporate market place? Only once you’ve been able to develop a fundamental branding strategy can you even consider how your brand walks, talks and what makes it attractive to corporate business (in terms of your marketing).
Mistake No #3 - Not looking like you’re in business
If you are in business in the corporate sector, then look like you are in business. Getting the basics right, such as a quality printed business card, a sharp logo, email footer and professionally shot photo of you will give you instant credibility. It’s also been the experience of my clients that what you wear matters. While tech founders such as Evan Spiegel of Snapchat* can get away with a t-shirt and jeans, this won’t always cut it in the corporate space. A nice suit is a given, but it’s the little details (beyond your tie, watch and shoes) that speak volumes about how seriously your brand is considered by BIG business.
Mistake No #4 - Making it all about you
Think about when you meet someone new at a networking event and all they’re interested in is talking about themselves. It’s not much fun. In conversations with potential corporate clients, aim to explore their needs and ask engaging questions to help understand where their business priorities are. Only then can you subtly weave in examples of the quality and value you can bring to them. This is far more effective than pushing your credentials across the boardroom or via LinkedIn.
Mistake No #5 - Having a brand that doesn’t reflect you
When it comes to a personal corporate brand, people buy people and some of the most successful brands are ones that have had the humblest of beginnings or an unusual start-up story. Make sure that your brand is real and reflects your own personal values (beyond your suit and tie) in your offering and delivery to corporate, because if your brand appears untrustworthy or looks false, then you’ll struggle to get business.
Mistake No #6 - You think you need to max your credit card
It’s true, good quality brands do require an investment of both time and money, but you don’t need to max out your credit cards. Stick within your own financial means to develop the best possible personal corporate brand and look to do these basics: hire a professional to design a logo and e-letter head, print business cards, build a one page website, invest in quality photography (be it stock images or bespoke) and, finally, if you can stretch it, invest in an editor to give your copy a boost because content is king.
Mistake No #7 - Letting other people dictate your brand
It’s common to seek the opinion of loved ones and other business owners when it comes to your branding, but do not let the unfounded opinion of others dictate what your brand or branded marketing material should look like. Remember: You are your own Brand. Think about what marketing platform you feel comfortable using, be it Facebook, LinkedIn or e-newsletters, and put some effort into using the platform consistently and well.
These common mistakes can be avoided when creating your personal corporate brand by investing some time exploring what you - as your brand - represent. Discovering this will help you avoid costly mistakes and start you on the pathway to creating a great personal corporate brand.