How do you define your personal brand?
Not so very long ago, the CEO of Social Age Media, Apryl DeLancey, invited me to join a panel of smart, strong female professionals called “Branding For Women” to discuss the importance of branding in a very large ballroom at a very nice hotel, the Los Angeles Airport Marriott.
In front of a mostly female audience of about 200, we imparted our wisdom. I’ve really come to enjoy speaking on panels, despite some minor stage fright issues I have; not only because it’s fun to share what I know with curious entrepreneurs and colleagues, but because I always end up with amazing, new friends and contacts in the other panelists I participate with. In this instance, I also was so impressed by all of the wonderful people I met after the panel, who came up to chat with me afterward.
For the complete list of the remarkable company I was in on this panel, click over to the event page — and read on to learn a little bit more about the questions asked and answered. (Note: these are my answers — we were a panel of eight and everyone had contributions and not everyone answered every question.)
How do you define “branding”? Why is branding important?
Simply put, I think branding is what defines your value; what makes you valuable? What is your differentiator in the marketplace? Consider that it is also more than just a logo and a URL. It’s about authenticity, consistency and the experience.
How are you customers perceiving you? Why do they come back for more?
What is your personal approach to branding?
Authenticity has become really important to me. I’m always focused on my tone of voice. My hope is that whenever someone who’s “met” me online meets me in person, the two personas match.
Other than that, I find little things can make or break a brand. Like having the same name across all social media channels, using the same photo, same colors…. I am trying to be better about that stuff.
What should be your goals when branding yourself?
Identify where you want to be in six months. A year. Ask yourself: What will get your there? Who is your audience? What is the best way to reach them? What will appeal to them? Where do they live on the web?
Don’t be afraid to do research! Do some competitive analysis – who is your competition and what are they doing that is working and not working? Or look for people who are out their killing it, in your field or not, and see what they’re doing that is working and not.
Who have you seen do a great job of branding themselves?
- Ellen Degeneres
- Jack Dorsey, Co-Founder Twitter & Square
- Jenny Lawson, The Bloggess
- Seth Godin
- Suze Orman
- Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls
Someone on the panel also mentioned LeVar Burton and Reading Rainbow. A great example indeed. And speaking of authenticity, he is every bit as nice in person as he seems to be on TV. He is deeply passionate about his brand and cause — it shows in everything he does. I’m sure that’s why Reading Rainbow remains a favorite and beloved brand after 40 years and why his kickstarter to resurrect it last year broke records.
Do you think branding is more important for women in business than their male counterparts? Why or why not? What is different for women, if anything?
A brand is important, period, to a woman or a man. I guess the difference is in how we’re perceived on the other side. Someone else on the panel pointed out that when you’re a woman, when you walk into the room, you come with baggage. People make far more assumptions about women than they tend to about men. Which sucks but we have an advantage just knowing and accepting that.
What is the first thing one should do when defining their personal brand?
It’s easy to get overwhelmed so I like to make lists. Never under-estimate the satisfaction that comes with checking something off a list. I also always recommend that when people are just starting out to claim their name on all the major social networks and buy the same name as a URL. Do not use something cutesy like “DogLover1942.” Why wouldn’t you use your name or your company name?
Are there tools that you recommend to define your brand?
A great website. A terrific photo that reflects your personality, used on all channels. A blog if that’s in your comfort zone.
Also, not really a tool per se, but I think finding your tribe is important — choosing good mentors.
Any of the women who joined me on the panel would be an excellent choice.