If the phrase “personal brand” sends you into hyperventilation mode, then it’s time to get real. You’re probably doing it wrong! Building your brand shouldn’t feel icky. It can even be sort of fun if you go about it the right way, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be a few challenges. Here are some of the most common reasons why branding might miss the mark, and how you can avoid falling into the same traps.
You’re not being real
Let’s say your personal brand is all about sequins and pastel shades – you’re a child at heart, after all, and there’s nothing wrong with that – BUT your marketing materials make you look more like the Queen of Darkness.
That’s a big problem.
People need to trust you before they’re willing to take your advice and give you all of their money. The wrong marketing can leave you looking as disingenuous as a C-grade celebrity in a tooth-whitening ad, and that is no recipe for success. Don’t be tempted to live a double life – instead, let your personal life and your branding blend together into one unified persona and start earning yourself a few REAL fans.
You’re an expert-in-training, but pretending to have a PhD
Before you can nail your branding, you need to know your stuff, and guess what? Your prospects can tell when you’re still reading from the instruction manual. You wouldn’t trust a surgeon who hadn’t been to medical school or a parenting expert with no children, so don’t expect people to take your claims at face value. That said, if you wait until you “know everything”, you’ll be waiting a long time to launch your minimum viable product, so find a happy medium.
Don’t be afraid to admit that you’re learning. Some of the most successful personal brands are created by people who are on the same path as their clients…just a little further ahead. Sharing your learning journey with your community is also a great way to build trust and respect. Plus, you won’t feel the need to pretend to be anything you aren’t.
Your story lacks illustrations
Every brand has a story, and it’s up to you to make sure it gets told. The biggest challenge, of course, is making sure people actually listen. How do you hold attention long enough to sell someone on your amazing brand? You fill the story with pretty pictures (and maybe even throw in some glitter, if you’re feeling it). There are so many reasons to use video as a branding tool for sharing your story with as many people as possible and making an impact, so don’t be camera-shy – get yourself in front of that lens, pronto!
Your personal brand is a replica of someone else’s
Remember writing assignments back in your school days? After reading a few jargon-ridden journal articles, you probably felt a STRONG urge to either a) copy your friend or b) pull everything straight from Wikipedia. It was frowned upon then, and guess what? It won’t win you any brownie points now. Now, to be clear, seeking inspiration is NOT the same thing as good old-fashioned plagiarism. We all get our ideas from somewhere! Let’s just make sure that those ideas don’t drive you to create an exact replica of someone else’s brand. You deserve the chance to build a brand that fits you just right (and won’t land you in court proceedings).
You’re often AWOL
The most important (and difficult) thing about branding isn’t your logo design, your tone of voice, or even that amazing filter on all of your Instagram posts. It’s all about showing up consistently. When you’re beginning, creating regular content might feel like a special kind of hell reserved only for budding entrepreneurs and sadists, but (dare we say it) it can be fun. You just have to get into a rhythm and make creativity part of your regular process. Before you know it, you’ll be the proud owner of a brand people know, like, and trust.
You haven’t defined your niche
Despite what those “inspirational” influencers tell you, you don’t have to do or be everything. In fact, you shouldn’t. It’s a recipe for mediocrity, and mediocrity tastes like stale biscuits. Rather than trying (and failing) to please everyone, invest your time in working out who your ideal client or customer looks like, and where you can find more of them. First, spend just enough time stalking your competitors to work out who they’re targeting. Then zoom right in on the gaps and carve out a spot for your personal brand with a unique selling proposition – voila! Your crowd of (potential) raving fans awaits.
Your messaging is unfocused
Once you have a well-defined niche, it’s time to get that messaging sorted. Your current messaging strategy might resemble a small child throwing spaghetti at the wall and hoping something sticks – and you know what? That’s one way to work out what your tribe wants to see. The next step is to funnel all that mess into a method that works (and ultimately makes you some $$$). Start by getting clear on your brand purpose, and then create a plan for all points of contact with your potential customers: social media content, blog posts, email sequences – all of it. Soon enough, you will find your voice.
The world of branding is full of potential pitfalls, but don’t let that deter you. Many a fabulous personal brand started out as distinctively average ideas scrawled on the back of a napkin. Besides, you don’t need to make this branding journey on your own. You’re allowed (and encouraged, quite frankly) to get yourself an amazing team of sidekicks. If you’re ready to start mapping out your journey, click here and tell us all about your project.
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