A brief summer vacation. I’ve taken a little time off to refresh, re-tool and re-energize. Time to get back at it. Too much rattling around in the old noodle to remain idle.
Back in February I started a series of posts focused on building and managing a brand. In my case, a “vintage” brand, positioning myself as an expert in historic and vintage homes. It’s been on my mind throughout the spring and into the summer as I attempt to follow my own sage advice in further developing my brand. I have been reading a lot (I mean a lot) this summer, and now I remember why my Mrs. Pender, my 5th grade teacher made such a big deal out of reading. Perception, expansion, self awareness, growth, understanding…on and on. I have gleaned some pretty good perspective on how others manage their public personas – good and bad.
Because our personal brands are built from the thoughts, words and reactions of other people, it’s shaped by how we present ourselves publicly – in person or online. This is something we have absolute control over. Whether branding our own identity, a service, or a product, clarity and simplicity are critical. It’s how we define who we are to the public. It’s our reputation.
By deciding how I would like people to see me, I can work on publicly being that image. What are my goals for my brand?
How do I want potential customers/clients / audience to think of me?
How many job interviews have we sat through being asked to describe ourselves in three words? Not an easy task, unless we’re REALLY self aware. Even then, it’s a tall order. It’s so much easier when if we view ourselves from a “public” perception. What have we put out there illustrating who and what we are?
As a real estate broker and historic preservationist, my goal is to present myself as a successful, educated, and accomplished “go-to” guy when it comes to selling or buying a vintage or historic property – approachable, friendly and efficient. Vintage is certainly not all I do, but it’s a niche…a specialty. Bottom line, I sell houses, I am an expert in old houses and I’m successful at what I do – all of this accompanied by the delicious adjectives by which I want my audience to perceive me. That’s all nice and good but it’s not enough.
How can I publicly ‘be’ that brand?
This question is an important one, but a tricky one. I look at personal branding defined by public composition of actions and output in three areas:
- What we’re ‘about’. Think about the key ideas you would want people to associate with you. Seth Godin is about telling stories, being remarkable. Leo Babauta is about simplicity and habit forming. Jonathan Fields (btw…I try to read every word these guys put in print) is about finding ways to build a career out of what you love doing. I am about providing exemplary client service (mixed with a little fun during the process) in the real estate industry. Creating memories.
- Our Expertise. Every good brand involves the notion of expertise. Nike brands itself as an expert in creating quality and fashionable sportswear. Jeremy Clarkson (host of Top Gear) is an expert on cars. No matter what you do or sell, you need to create the perception that its the best, the brightest and everyone’s got to have it. I am an expert in vintage and historic homes, their construction, care and integrity.
- Our style. This is not so much what you communicate about yourself, but rather, how you do it. Are you witty and raw, like Naomi Dunford? Are you confident and crusading, like Michael Arrington? Hopefully you’re none of these, or at least, not in the same way. Your style of delivery should be as unique as any other aspect of your personal brand. If you don’t actively imitate anyone else, it will happen naturally. Read widely and write a lot. I use humor and feigned formality (that is quickly found-out) as my communication and presentation style. If you know how to mirror your clients’ urgency, your style can be totally adaptive to your brand.
With so many to-do’s, there are also a few ways to screw it up.
- DON’T exaggerate.
- DON’T put off your online image management.
- DON’T be lazy.
- DON’T become outdated.
- DON’T get stale on what the competition is doing.
So, who are you and what do you do?
Next up: Building a VINTAGE Brand; 1.3 Logo Design and Recognition. Gotta’ Get a Gimmick!