It may sound obvious to say so, but you ARE your business. Your personal brand is not merely a part of the way you develop your business; it is the most important part. As the old saying goes “people buy people”. After all, people may be buying your products or services but first and foremost they are buying into you.
Essentially, your business brand is every possible thing that effects the way people perceive your company. This includes you as a person, how you talk, behave and even how you dress – your personal brand. It is often the first thing a potential new customer will see and as first impressions are so incredibly important, if you haven’t spent enough time thinking about how you come across, it could be of major detriment.
Some of us come across better than others and some of us are more confident around other people than others. This is only part of puzzle and even if you lack in these areas, they can be improved on over time. But when we talk about your personal brand what we really mean is this:
How do you as a person reflect the most positive elements of your business?
To be able to answer this question you have to delve deep into what your business actually achieves for its customers. It’s not necessarily about what you do but more about how you do it. Think of some of the world’s best brands and how they communicate with their customers. Take Apple for instance; rarely do they talk about what their products do and instead focus on how their products will make you look and feel…and how people will perceive you.
Perception is the key word here. First, think about your appearance and what kind of message it conveys. If you are in the professional services, then there is little room for manoeuvre as smart business dress is usually the order of the day. That said, it also means small details will stand out. I know the MD of local design agency who always wears bright and somewhat flamboyant shirts. He still looks smart but he stands out and has become known for this particular idiosyncrasy. This vibrancy is reflected through his energy and the rest of the way his business is perceived.
Next think about how you communicate; your body language, the words you use and the manner in which you use them. Another cliché here is “it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it”. There is obviously some truth to this and confidence in your ability to provide value will shine through…but words are still important. Develop a culture of words and phrases that are synonymous with your business and your way of doing things and then use them consistently. This is something the world’s biggest and most successful companies do and it helps with ensuring the consistency of their message.
The hardest part of developing your personal brand is actually thinking about it. Once you have figured out what your business truly is and how you can demonstrate that through your own behaviour…you will be on the right track.