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Although branding falls squarely under the Marketing umbrella, it bears mentioning because it supports your networking and sales. In fact, branding can be a very effective tool for integrating your networking, marketing and sales. What makes a brand? Integrated messaging focused on sustainable, consistent, recognizable uniqueness. You are familiar with product brands…the most notable examples are when the brand name becomes synonymous with the object (i.e., Kleenex for tissue, Band-Aid for adhesive bandage, Post-It for sticky notepaper) or when the service becomes a verb (i.e., “I Googled it and found the answer”). More relevant to self-employed professionals is the concept of branding around individuals. Consider, for example, Cher, Emeril, Oprah, Martha Stewart, or Donald Trump. These individuals have created empires out of the brand that they are. Whatever you may think about each of them, there is a distinct and consistent imprint that is conjured up. There is something (or several things) about each one of them that is supremely definitive of that person’s image, and you will see the markers of that imprint in every appearance, product, performance, or picture you see from that person.
Think for a moment about Bond. James Bond. Yes, I mean 007. A fictional character, yes, but a brand nonetheless. There are distinct elements of Bond that are predictable, recognizable, sustainable, and consistent. So much so that even when played by different actors over the years, there is an essence of Bond that makes him Bond. You’ve likely heard debates about who was a better Bond, with Sean Connery clearly in the lead over Roger Moore, George Lazenby, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan. If Bond weren’t such a distinct brand, we wouldn’t be able to argue the merits of how accurately he is portrayed by the various actors who’ve held that coveted role.
How can you start to create a brand YOU? Peter Senge talks about Personal Mastery; Stephen Covey talks about Sharpening the Saw. (1)
Whatever you want to call the process, it means you have to do some internal work. Until you have clarity about who you want to be in the world, or who you want to be for your clients, or how you want to show up in your industry, you cannot begin to craft an integrated image or imprint for all your networking, marketing and sales.
What is your unique offering to the market, to the world or to your profession of choice? What are your distinct quirks, characteristics, expertises, skills, attributes, and successes? What is the look and feel of brand YOU? How can you integrate that uniqueness into all you do, say, write, and create? Once you have defined that unique thing that is wholly YOU, how can you make it recognizable in a consistent and sustainable way? Can you integrate it into all your messages, all your promotional materials, all your writing, all your appearances, all your services? This will take some thought, and many folks rely on the counsel of branding experts and public relations specialists. If you are going to engage in shameless self-promotion anyway (and that’s something you must do to build your business), the consistency, recognizability, and uniqueness of your brand will take you farther than if you don’t spend any time thinking through strategic branding questions.
©Suzi Pomerantz. All rights reserved. www.suzipomerantz.com www.LeadingCoachesCenter.com Excerpted from Seal the Deal: The Essential Mindsets for Growing Your Professional Services Business
(1) See, for example, Peter M. Senge, The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization (New York: Doubleday, 1990) and Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change, rev. ed. (New York: Free Press, 2004