WHAT IS BRANDING?
I did not go to college to be a branding and career consultant. But every opportunity, degree, and relationship has led me here today. Led me to assist others in their career and business journey. Led me to helping individuals and business owners discover who they are, what they have to offer and how to communicate that through voice and visuals.
When I tell people what I do, they often ask, “like marketing or advertising?”. I tell them I assist with marketing strategy and consult on advertising efforts but that I focus on branding. I usually get an “uh huh” with a confused face.
I think it is time to clarify what branding is and why I find it SO important for individuals and businesses.
First, we must understand that …
BRANDING IS NOT MARKETING.
Branding is about identity. It takes discovery and self-reflection. You have to figure out who you are, how you are different, what you want, what you have to offer, what you want to be known for (your reputation).
Then it is about consistent communication about that identity. That consistent communication can be in the form of marketing, advertising, public relations, design, or networking.
What I mean is, branding comes first. Discovery MUST come first. Otherwise, you are just designing and writing noise in hopes your audience (whether an employer or customer) will listen and understand.
As Donald Miller says
“The essence of branding is to create simple, relevant messages we can repeat
over and over so that we “brand” ourselves into the public consciousness.”
-Building a Story Brand
SO … WHAT IS BRANDING
When I teach my online Personal Branding for Professionals course and speak at colleges, I start by defining personal branding. These definitions apply to business branding and personal branding. Take a look at the 3 definitions below and try to apply them to your career or business.
“Personal branding is the ongoing process of creating, establishing and communicating a clear statement of image of who you are to others.”
- Los Ellis
“Your brand is a perception or emotion, maintained by somebody other than you, that describes the total experience of having a relationship with you.”
- McNally and Speak
“Intentionally creating an all-encompassing reputation for one’s self through every avenue they are perceived.”
-Personal Branding for Professionals
Businesses and professionals, read each of those definitions and realize that no matter what brand you are working on, these 3 elements are essential:
1. It is an on-going process: This is freeing to know you don’t have to have it all figured out today.
It is also implying that you must communicate it over and over and over. Because if you don’t tell them, how will they know?
2. It is about relationships: After you create an identity, it is your RESPONSIBILITY to share it with others (customers, employers, fellow professionals). It is about engagement and interaction. You can’t just hide behind social media or marketing efforts.
And most importantly…
3. It requires INTENTIONAL effort: I mean that you can’t copy what others are doing (your competitors and peers) and expect to find success for your business or a career that provides fulfillment.
I love the analogy that is made in Building a Story Brand: “It’s not unlike when a movie becomes a success and they turn it into a sequel. Often, the story feels forced.”
Don’t be someone else’s sequel. It will always seem forced.
How do I discover and communicate my brand?
I want to encourage you to take the next month (or more) and work on your brand. You may be a business and have already discovered your brand and aesthetic but it may be time to elevate and be more intentional. You may be a college student or professional and need to take a step back and reflect. Figure out your strengths, skills, motivators. Wherever you are, use these 2 FREE checklists that I created to help you think through what you may need to work on.
Besides these two checklists, I invite you to contact me for an 1 hour consultation meeting.
I know how helpful it is to talk to someone who isn’t in your company or in your family. Talk through the unknowns and decide the appropriate next steps for YOU.
If you are looking for the whole personal branding process, check out Personal Branding for Professionals – a 4-week online course available to students and professionals of any industry or age.
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