• Susanne Birgersdotter

A vital aspect of a businessperson’s longevity in business is his or her personal branding. Entrepreneurs shouldn’t just focus on building great products that customers will like and buy. The secret to business success is great personal branding. This is what carries an entrepreneur from one company to another, one industry to the next. This is how you build a business empire.

Successful businesses are anchored on good branding. Product branding is focused on one particular product and how it is presented to the customers. Corporate branding is the building a public image for the entire company. This includes its products, its values, its services and commitment to the community, its leaders and its people. Personal branding, on the other hand, is focused on one person, usually the leaders and founders of the business.

Personal branding is shaping your public image. How creating a persona that you want other people to see you. It is an amalgamation of your personality, your work, your values, of how you dress, your expertise, your products, and your work ethics. It is what sets you apart from the others, what makes you easily recognizable, and what others think about you.

Jeff Bezos of Amazon describes personal branding as “…what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”

Personal branding is the foundation of a political career and the fuel to a celebrity’s stardom. For a businessperson, a great personal branding translates to customers’ loyalty, creditors’ trust, investors’ confidence, and employees’ pride. It is also a great marketing tool that will sustain an ever-growing business. Customers are more likely to buy a new product if they know who the maker or seller is. It is not new for businesses to use the good image of a leader in many marketing campaigns and promotions.

As a businesswoman who traipses over several industries, businesses, and careers, personal branding is very important to me. It is instrumental in how I was able to easily move from one industry to another, from one business to the next. Every time I enter a new industry and start a new endeavor, I’m a newbie. I have to learn everything and build everything from scratch. But, I also have my name, my brand. People will know me from my past work and reputation as a person and as a businesswoman. My clients, my creditors, and my investors follow me or provide the recommendations that will open new doors for me.

Building a strong and positive personal branding takes years of consistency. One cannot create a strong image with erratic behavior. Here are the steps and some great tips to help you start building your personal branding;

Define your public persona – How do you want people to see you? How much of your true personality are you willing to share with the public? Although showing your true self is best, it is not uncommon for people to tweak their public personality. Many celebrities we know look vivacious and fun, when in reality, they are the quiet type introverts. A corporate leader might want to tame his or her public image, to conform to what is expected of him/her. Your public persona must be consistent with your position, your personality, and the goals that you want to achieve.

Introduce yourself – Once you’ve defined your public persona, it is time to tell the world about him/her. Let people know who you are by your actions, weave it into your speeches, create a slogan, and participate in events that will highlight your public image. If you want to be known as a staunch environment supporter, create or go to events that will promote this advocacy. If you want to be known as the down-to-earth, one-of-the-guys boss, be more relatable to your employees.

Consistency is key – People can easily spot a fake. Act in public like how you do online. If your fun and jolly on your social media accounts, be fun and jolly in person. If you advocate against animal cruelty, do not be caught wearing a fur coat. Everything about you – your tone of voice, your personality, and the way you dress should align with the brand you’re building.

Don’t try to please everyone – Trying to please everyone is a hopeless endeavor. No matter what you do, there will always be some people who will go against you. This is the time to let your personal beliefs and values take precedence. My advocacy in helping other women entrepreneurs in forwarding their careers and businesses has earned me some flak from some gentlemen in business. I will try to understand their point, but I will not change my advocacy.

Stamp your branding everywhere – This is the marketing aspect of your brand. People will remember you easily if you keep on reminding them of who you are. Create a personal slogan and a logo. Include them everywhere – your email signature, in your blog, in your social media accounts, in your business card, and in your business letterhead.

Leverage from other reputable brands – Associating yourself with strong and influential brands will help boost your brand. Working or collaborating with other brands will rub off their branding to you. So, be careful with who you associate with. Working with people or companies with disreputable names might taint your brand while collaborating with good and strong ones will help boost yours.