This post is the third in the series 4 Easy Steps To Creating The Brand Called You, and describes the second step in a four step process for creating your personal brand. If you haven't read it yet, you might be interested in reading the introductory post on personal branding and the first step: Developing Your Brand.
I always thought it was David Lee Roth of Van Halen fame who said:
It's not what you do, but how you look.
I tried looking it up (I Googled it), but alas I can't verify the quote. Maybe someone can verify that for me. In any event, it doesn't really matter who said it. Even though we may hate to admit it, there is some (i.e. much) truth to it. As we've all been told: first impressions mean a lot, if not everything, and first impressions are based on the package you come in - on how you look.
Since your brand is you, the question is how to package yourself. Let's look at the most important aspects of the package that you come in:
Avoid the temptation to create a cool sounding company name for your brand. Since the brand is you, the brand name is your name. Let's say Sue Smith is an accountant and her brand (her promise of value) is "great bookkeeping for real estate agents". She shouldn't package this brand as "Great Books", or "Real Accounting", or whatever else sounds neat. Sue is the brand and so the name of her brand should be "Sue Smith". Maybe people like to use another name for their brands to make them sound bigger than themselves. I don't know, but this is an absolute show stopper for a personal brand and completely defeats the purpose. Now the brand is something else (xyz inc.) instead of you! Think of some great brands:
- Mercedes Benz
These are all people's names! Consider most professional practices, law firms and accounting firms: same thing, all named after people.
You need a business card. I know this is the 21st century and everything is online. But there will be lots of opportunities to market yourself and you won't be online or near a computer. You'll need to pass people your calling card. Unless you are a graphic designer (by the way, just because you know how to use PhotoShop does not make you a graphic designer), don't design your business card yourself. That great thing about having the design work done professionally is that you can reuse the design on other collateral materials you may need, like letterheads, resumes and thank you cards. For God's sake don't print your cards on a printer at home. It only costs a few dollars these days to have cards professionally printed.
What's on the card? Your name of course (see above). Get your own business telephone number and put that on the card too. You can get your own number for free on Google Voice, or use a service like Ring Central. You'll also need an email on there, so read what's next:
Reserve your domain name now. If you name is "Sue Smith", register suesmith.com. It will only cost you about $10 or so, but now you've got a personal domain name that you can use for a couple important things:
- Email: You want this for your business card and for communicating with others. Nothing says amateur like a Hotmail or Yahoo mail address. Once you have your domain name, you can use several services such as Google Apps for your Domain to set up email on your new domain. Google Apps for your Domain is free for a standard account.
- Website: You need a web site. The first thing people are going to do is Google you. Your own site on your own domain allows you to control some of what see about you when they go out on the net. You might consider hosting a blog there where you write about your passion - the promise of value that is your brand. Maybe that's too much of a commitment, so perhaps you can simply put up your bio or even just your contact information (remember the stuff on your business card? use it here too!) and links to any online profiles you maintain on sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.
If your brand is Great Tax Preparation for Wealthy Seniors, you cannot have uncombed hair and wear a hoodie and sneakers! Our physical appearance can be a very personal thing. I suppose it's not fair that how you look is dictated by what others expect. But hey, who said the world was fair? The thing is, perception trumps reality. It really is not what you do, but how you look. Actually it is what you do, but no one will get to that if they can't get by their first impressions. So how you look is as, or even more, important than what you do. For some people (women), style, hygiene and fashion seem to come naturally, for others (men) not so much. For the style challenged males out there, I'm really digging Aaron Marino these days. He's the man behind Alpha M Image Consulting (how I wish he had just used his name for his brand), and has an amazing YouTube channel with tons of great videos. Maybe as he gets his brand going he'll get a better studio for his videos!
Your workspace says a lot about your brand. If your workspace is where you will entertain clients (or your boss, manager or employer) then having a workspace that is consistent with your brand is critical. If you are working for a big company and your brand is IT Projects Done Right - On Time, On Budget then have a disorganized cubicle with reams of paper all over the place is not going to work. It doesn't communicate a sense of the fantastic organization that seems to go with that brand.
Coming next in the series: Marketing Your Brand. Stay tuned. Better yet, subscribe to the Life Sutra and you'll always be up to date!
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