Brand Yourself Carefully to Help your business grow.

Does my telling you to brand yourself make you wince with pain? That's not the kind of branding I mean. Maybe you're wincing because “personal brand” or something like that has become such a business cliché. I felt like that until I started researching the phrase. Now it makes sense to me.

The word “business brand” is used constantly these days in business and social media. But the casual or even “accidental” business owner that may not have the benefit of a business school education. For them, jargon like this is vague and often meaningless.

Since I'm a baby boomer, I remember the 60s western “Branded” with Chuck Connors. That's what I associate the word with, and it fits in with the concept of branding your business.

That old TV western's use of the word was negative. The hero was thrown out of the Army cause he broke rules. (Of course he was innocent, but that doesn't matter.) He was “branded” because of what was said about him... word of mouth about him was terrible. Worse still, his “brand” was out of his control. That's what you want to avoid.

Modern business branding involves creating, building and maintaining your image & reputation. When you brand yourself, online or off, you're giving the customer a way of identifying with you. The name you choose, your advertising and marketing, customer service and public relations all need to be consistant with the brand you create.

When I say that you'll “create” your brand, I'm not talking about your business being phony or unreal. I really mean well-thought-out and intentional. You're just not leaving it to be created in a haphazard way... not letting it just happen. You want to create and "brand yourself" while you're still planning your business, before you choose your name.

So first, brainstorm your business concept, and identify your niche market. Branding yourself comes next. Take time to think about what message YOU want your brand to send. (Hint: your brand is about you. Your business is about your customer.) It needs to be appropriate to your niche's “perfect customer.” Here's some questions to think about while establishing your brand.

  • Why are you in the business you've chosen?
  • What's your mission. It's probably a little emotional. (Unless you're strictly after money online. That's okay, you'll still need a brand for your internet business!)
  • Why did you choose the niche you did?
  • Who's your ideal customer?
  • What needs and desires do you want to fulfill for that customer?
  • Why are you the perfect person to fulfill their needs and wants.
  • What features and services can you offer to them? And what's the outcome of those features?
  • What value do you offer them?
  • Why should anybody do business with you and not someone else? Maybe it's your experience. Your knowledge. Your passion.

Write down your answers to these questions. Remember, these are prompts to help you focus. You're trying to explain the common ground that you share with your customers. Your message should tell someone why they need to do business with you. You want to let them know your business can help them with their problems or needs. (Remember, benefits are measurable, values are more “emotional) You want to evoke a positive image or feeling in the mind of your customer when they think about you or your business.

This all sounds serious, mysterious and complicated. It doesn't need to be. You don't HAVE to brand yourself. But you at least need to be aware that your business has a brand, whether you choose it or not.

You don't need to launch a massive campaign to brand yourself and your business. This works on a person to person level, especially with social media like twitter, facebook and others.

So be unique. Be you-nique! The brand” that you create & share with the public is an opportunity that can't be repeated or copied by anybody else. As a small business owner, you're probably in your particular business because you have a passion for it... I hope. Share all of this by brand yourself carefully and well. Relax... I know you can do this!

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