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#4 – Brand Thyself

brandWhat do Rolex, Nordstrom, and Oprah all have in common?  They all have an effective and marketable brand.  They are leaders in their industries because of their brands.

What do you think of when you think of a Rolex?  Luxury…right?  When you think of Nordstrom?  Superior customer service.  And Oprah?  Media icon.  What do people think of or associate with you?  That is the question.

You don’t need to be Nordstrom or Oprah, but you do need a professional brand when it comes to marketing and self-promotion.  Branding is the key to professional success.

The first thing to know about branding is that in order for it to be effective, it needs to be true and authentic.  It comes from the heart. Even if we hired the same branding expert that Oprah used to help create her brand, it would never work.  The branding only worked for Oprah because she’s Oprah…a unique woman, one of a kind.  But so are you.

Branding is about shaping other people’s perceptions of you based on your values, goals, personality, and interactions.  It’s about creating an authentic and consistent experience that people will remember, appreciate, and talk about.  Walk the walk and talk the talk, and people will recognize and promote your brand.

McDonald’s is one of the most recognizable brands in the world.  Why?  Do they have the best food? No. Nicest atmosphere? Not even close.  It’s because you can walk into a McDonald’s anywhere in the world and order the same French fries.  They taste exactly the same wherever you go…now that’s consistency.  That’s the expectation, and McDonald’s does not disappoint.  An effective brand will keep your customers coming back again and again.

Very few of us are will ever become an icon like Oprah or a franchise like McDonald’s, but we still need to intentionally create a brand that works.  A brand that not only you can use to promote yourself, but that others can use to promote you as well.  You want them to spread the word and help separate you from your competition.

Here are some simple questions to help get your brand off the ground…

  1. What do you value?
  2. What makes you unique?
  3. How do you want to be perceived?
  4. What is the experience you want to create?
  5. What is your area of expertise?
  6. What is your target market?
  7. Are you visible?
  8. Are you consistent?
  9. Is your brand true and authentic?

A professional brand doesn’t happen overnight, but stick with it.  If your brand is from the heart, and you live it consistently everyday, then your self-promotion efforts will exceed your wildest dreams…just like Oprah.

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