Consumers now more than ever feel they need a stronger connection with the companies they engage in business. Branding and business representation are imperative in today’s market. How you come across and are perceived are more important than just a logo and a tag line. There’s no denying consumers crave a deeper connection with the companies they do business with. And that’s why these days having a fancy website and logo isn’t enough to define your brand. Therefore, it’s very important to thoughtfully create a personal brand that truly shares who you are and what you stand for. If a brand isn’t appealing to your audience or not genuine, it can repel customers. But the process of creating a brand can be intimidating for some.
Your Brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room – Jeff Bezos
So how do you avoid personal branding blunders when it comes to helping instead of harming your business?
Here’s the biggest personal branding mistakes to avoid:
- Being Vague: When it comes to personal branding it’s absolutely essential that you are focused and have taken the time to define what you represent and where you hope to take your brand. Don’t start marketing yourself until you know what a personal brand is and how to create yours. You could confuse potential employers and waste time.
- Stretching the Truth: Don’t lie about your experience. It’s best to highlight similar skills you have and your enthusiasm for learning new things. It’s hard to have a positive personal brand if people don’t trust what you say.
- A Lack of Consistency: It’s important that the person employers find on LinkedIn is the same person that they see on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. As a professional platform LinkedIn tends to be formal, but make sure your other social pages reflect the same core values and goals, even if the tone is more casual.
- Not Keeping your Profiles Updated: You’ve joined Twitter but haven’t posted for six months and you do have a LinkedIn profile but you’ve forgotten to add the details of your latest project. If you’re finding it hard to keep on top of the multiple social media platforms that you’ve joined then scale back – find the sites that work best for your personal brand and focus on being active on them.
- Speaking for the Sake of being Heard: Commenting and interacting online is a great way of catching people’s attention. There’s so much noise online these days, so stand out by offering extra value to a conversation. People have learnt to tune out, so writing a ‘great post with useful information’ at the end of an article will mean your comment ends up in the spam folder. Instead, share useful content when involved in online discussions and ask relevant questions to elicit a conversation.
- Only Talking about Yourself: The rule for sharing online tends to be 12 to one. For every post that you make about yourself make sure that there are 12 that relate to your wider network and interests. Finding those 12 posts shouldn’t be too difficult. Include content that you have created yourself, reposts from businesses and people you admire and responses to breaking news in your chosen industry.
- Not Showing off your Originality: Your personal brand should help to highlight your uniqueness. You want to be unforgettable – so it needs to reflect your personality as well as your experience. Mention the things that make you stand out: an amazing feat for charity, spent time studying abroad or the fact that you spend your spare time learning the intricate art of kite making.
- Thinking you don’t need a Personal Brand: Whether you intentionally create a brand or not, every communication and experience you have with customers and potential customers is shaping your brand. That’s why it’s critical to create a positive brand communication. If you don’t take time to define your brand, your message can get lost. That lack of clarity will hurt your marketing efforts.
- Using Copycat Branding: Often when people start out in business they feel like imitating their top competitors is a good idea. Don’t imitate, instead innovate. Accentuate what makes you unique. Differentiate yourself. Show why your differences make you a better choice. Do this by creating signature systems, products and messaging that sets you apart.
- Not Being Authentic: Closely related to point 9, some people take a dress-up approach to branding. They feel like they must be something they are not in order to attract customers. Authenticity in marketing matters more than ever before. Being honest and transparent builds trust. A brand should be genuine and always maintain consistent messaging that is in alignment with your personality and brand.
- Not Defining Your Niche: No business can be all things to all people. It’s really important to define your target market. Period. The more narrowly you can define your target market the better; otherwise, you risk confusing your customers and you’ll have a harder time attracting the right kind of clientele that you want to serve most.
- Forgetting Quality and Professionalism: The Internet knows all so if you make a mistake, someone’s going to catch it. When you send a newsletter with typos or broken links it reflects poorly on your brand. When your customer has a problem and calls customer service, they want their issue resolved. Pay special attention to your appearance. Watch the language you share on social media. Your demeanour should be humble not arrogant. Display ethical behaviour when attending public events. Answer the phone professionally.
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Take these lessons to heart and keep them at the core of your personal branding strategy. Even if you feel good about your branding efforts, it’s smart to step back and take a look at your existing strategy and double-down your efforts to protect your personal brand.
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Some of the content of this Article are based on extracts from the book by Susan Friesen, “Ultimate Guide to Improving Your Website’s Profitability. She is the founder of the award-winning web development and digital marketing firm eVision Media, a Web Specialist, Business and Marketing Consultant, and Social Media Advisor.