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From politics to business: What matters most is personal brand

A business owner’s personal brand is just as important as their business’ brand – customers have to like both, or they’ll take their business elsewhere. Here’s some expert advice for creating a personal brand worthy of praise and credibility.

Monday’s leadership ballot between Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd was a good old-fashioned battle of the brands – Brand Gillard V Brand Rudd.

Gillard and Rudd were the brands. The customer was the caucus. Gillard and Rudd had to convince the caucus they carried the experience, traits and skills to lead the Labor party. It came down to a vote on personal image, leadership style and brand.

Is it any different in business?

As a business owner, I am very much aware how people see me, Michelle Gamble, the person, is every bit as important as how they view Marketing Angels, the business. Customers have to like both of us, or they simply won’t work with us.

I believe everyone must stand out and create a personal brand that is worthy of praise and credibility. It can only help your business overall.

So, how do I brand myself?

Branding yourself is not unlike branding a business or product. Only you are the “product” and what you do is the “service.” Your “customers” are your clients, potential clients as well as employees and potential employees.

Before you brand yourself, you must determine what it is you offer your customers… what is your “personal” unique selling point?

Start by identifying the qualities or characteristics that make you stand out from your competitors. It could be that you deliver your work on time, every time. You may offer the most experienced advice. You might return calls quickly, or you might complete all projects within budget.

Remember, we are talking about you, not the business itself.

Once you have defined what sets you apart, it is time to market that trait.

Develop a marketing plan… about you!

You would not consider marketing a business without a marketing plan. Well, it is no different when it comes to marketing your personal brand.

Your personal marketing plan should include key tactics and strategies around how you will promote your image. Think back to your unique selling points and build it from there.
Try to promote yourself as an industry leader. Think Richard Branson and Donald Trump. Look at ways to be an industry thought-leader, create a name for yourself and shape the future.

The best way to do this is to consistently provide useful and relevant information to your customers. Your marketing plan should include strategies around social media, blogging, newsletters and articles.

Set guidelines around how you want your customers to see you by developing a set of rules that govern how your personal brand can be used.  They should provide a guide for all that you do (including everything you don’t do!) and include things like:

  • Presentation. Think about the image you want to present, and then dress accordingly. I once met a businesswoman who always wore a splash of pink as that colour was a huge part of her overall business branding.
  • Phone calls. Set guidelines around the way you handle phone conversations. Consider documenting acceptable turnaround times for returning phone calls.
  • Emails. Your email address might be the first impression someone has of you. Ensure the name represents your personal brand adequately.
  • Meetings. Set guidelines for how you conduct yourself in business meetings. Consider arrival times, and what you should bring with you.
  • Social media. Tools such as Linked-in and Twitter have now become key tools in personal branding.  Think carefully about how you present yourself on these mediums.

Each person’s personal brand standards should be different to reflect the different businesses. How a bank manager wants to be seen will differ from a builder or a fashion designer. It is all part of the larger message you’re sending about yourself.

In Monday’s case, while the Gillard Brand spoke more strongly to the customer, media reports show the Rudd Brand was a greater hit with the public. Unfortunately for Kevin Rudd, the public was not the customer he needed to impress. It might be back to the drawing board for Brand Rudd.

What do you think?

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Michelle Gamble

Michelle Gamble

Michelle is the Chief Angel of Marketing Angels, an entrepreneur who has built Marketing Angels from the ground up over the past 10 years. Marketing Angels has grown into one of Australia’s leading marketing consultancies providing marketing education, advice and outsourced marketing management to business. Michelle claims she's a bit of marketing geek, having started her marketing career in telecommunications and online working for both Telstra and Optus before starting Marketing Angels. Michelle is also a busy mother to 3 children, and lives in Manly NSW.

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