I’m tired of hearing the word “brand”. Which may come as a surprise to you since my business model is based on helping people become leading voices within their industry. But bear with me for a minute.
Lately, I’ve noticed the word brand is becoming one of the most overused, misused and quite frankly annoying words ever.
The other day, I was scrolling through my Instagram feed and stumbled across an ad promoting a course, which teaches people how to build a six-figure brand. I scrolled further down my feed to yet another marketing ad focused on building your brand as a six-figure blogger. Then I received a media pitch from a so called branding expert who’s website, tips and advice were eerily similar to someone I know.
Enter me: being annoyed.
Are You Focused on the Wrong Things?
Here’s why I’m concerned. Too many people are focused on building a brand aka a “social media life”— focused on colors, fonts, perfectly curated pictures, an attention grabbing logo, and regurgitated information found somewhere online.
Yet there’s no authentic perspective or real proof of influence or impact on a specific community.
So, are you really living up to the things you create, share and promote online? Have you done the work?
Too many people are focused on labeling themselves as an expert which often comes with creating a website, designing a logo, getting the trademark, figuring out the color scheme, and growing their number of followers—but they haven’t identified the unique problem they solve for people. And most importantly, they haven’t solved “that problem” consistently for enough people, yet they’re claiming “expert status (more on that later. I promise).”
When it comes to the real meaning behind the word “brand,” I love the definition that Seth Godin gave:
“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories, and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another. If the consumer (whether it’s a business, a buyer, a voter or a donor) doesn’t pay a premium, make a selection, or spread the word, then no brand value exists for that consumer.”
Get where I’m going?
Brands aren’t built overnight.
Your brand is a body of work. It’s an evolution of consistent actions over a period time.
It’s bigger than creating logos and color palettes and sharing motivational quotes or regurgitated content you can find on any blog.
Beyond basic branding elements like your headshot, bio, color palette, style guide, setting up a blog, social media profiles, etc., there are few key steps that are critical for an effective brand. In a nutshell, lead with your voice.
SHARE YOUR UNIQUE POINT OF VIEW
Here’s what most people don’t understand. It’s not enough to promote your skills.
It’s not enough to promote your advanced degree or role as a CEO, because, in most instances, people buy into buy into people, not businesses and titles.
Ron Guirguis said it perfectly: “People don’t just buy products anymore, they buy the companies that make products, the values they represent and what they stand for. ”
They buy into your business because they believe that YOU can solve their problem. People hire you over someone else because they love your energy or your perspective on dealing with a challenge in the workplace.
So, what are your core values? What do you stand for? What are your feelings or perspectives about news or industry trends? Which communication channels can you use to showcase your personality?
In a nutshell, your unique point of view, if delivered consistently, can inspire growth and development, shape behavior and drive people to take action.
CREATE SOMETHING OF VALUE FOR A SPECIFIC AUDIENCE
Stop focusing on you. Stop asking for things from your community, without first providing something of value–for free. Creating something of value builds trust with your audience and establishes your credibility in the industry.
Gary Vaynerchuk, a New York Times Best Seller, CEO of VaynerMedia and BFF in my head talks a lot about this in his book: Jab, Jab, Jab Right Hook– it’s a must read. Ask yourself: How can I consistently provide something of value for people? What can I teach someone in my sleep? How can I empower people to take action? How can I create a lasting impact?
When you think about value, think about providing something convenient for a specific audience (e.g., how to videos, books, webinars, worksheets, etc.)
FIND YOUR TRIBE
Engage with your followers, share helpful tips and give them an opportunity to share their experiences with you. Shout out people for their accomplishments and show your support for people’s endeavors by introducing them to other people who share the same interest.
PERFECT YOUR CRAFT & TRUST YOUR PROCESS
- How did you perfect your craft?
- What types of challenges or lessons learned have you experienced in the industry?
- How have you used your core skills to solve problems in your area of expertise?
- What are the challenges facing your industry? What are the challenges facing your target audience? How have you consistently solved this problem for your audience?
Answering these questions can help establish your credibility and clarify the unique value you bring to the table. Your answers can also serve as the foundation for creating a compelling story and producing valuable content which establishes you as an expert or influencer in your chosen field.
Now, about this sense of entitlement. Before brand sponsorships, paid speaking engagements and paying clients, you have to perfect your craft. Perfecting your craft is a process–and again this doesn’t happen overnight. Trust the process—which often comes with a series of mistakes, failures, and lessons learned. Evaluate your work.
Engage your audience in conversation—get insanely curious about their needs. Then get a few mentors, sponsors or career coaches who can guide you and provide feedback on your performance.