As an entrepreneur, it's easy to think about branding your business. What are your fonts going to look like? How do you talk about your business? What is your logo going to be? But oftentimes the last thing on your mind is…how are you branding yourself?
Branding yourself is an integral part of telling your story before someone else tells it for you. It allows you to define what you want to be known for and how you want shape your story. I work with fashion brands and entrepreneurs and the question always comes up from the business owners: “How do I brand myself?” Your ability to self-brand will not only help your business launch, but also scale. When potential investors and business development partners look to support you, they want to know about YOU and what integrity, passion, and expertise you bring to the table. That is what is valuable. Ideas are cheap—it's what you do with them that matter.
The motto here is “you are what you say you are.” So what are you going to say?
Here are my favorite tips on how to brand yourself before you get branded:
Step 1: Think of your personal Instagram account as a branded platform.
Are you posting pictures of going to parties all the time? Is it all photos of your family? Think about the message you want to put out there. The nuances of your bio and your visual content will shape the type of person people perceive you to be. If you want the freedom to post whatever, whenever, then consider a private account or being intentional and OK about that perception of you.
Step 2: Share your opinions online.
Are you positioning yourself as a thought leader? Do you want to be considered a resource or expert? Share your opinions by writing guest blog posts, commenting on other blogs and offering to share your insights to reporters. A great resource is HARO: Help a Reporter Out. Just the other day I saw requests for style experts, financial planners and entrepreneurs to share thoughts on a particular topic.
Step 3: Start speaking.
Public speaking is a great way to get your ideas in front of others. You don’t need to have a huge company or have had amazing accomplishments. Think like a TED speaker. All you need is one idea, something you feel passionate about and more importantly an idea you think could help others to start public speaking. Once you start to share your ideas on a larger platform you will begin to solidify “Brand You.”
Step 4: Mind your company.
What types of events do you attend? Where are you spending your time? It’s important to stay relevant both for networking purposes and to get inspired. You are branded by the nature of the content you consume; both externally and internally it changes your discourse. I suggest creating a calendar of events each season and figuring out where you need to be. You might need to shell out some money to be a part of an event, or if you can’t find one that fits you, then create one!
Step 5: Master LinkedIn.
Everyone is on LinkedIn, from Jenna Lyons to Richard Branson. Why? Because it's where you go to find people in your space, read industry relevant articles, and see who is doing what. Have you curated your LinkedIn page? What does your bio say? Optimize your content by including recent projects, all of your social media channels, have a professional looking photo and make it clear what exactly you do and what kind of expert you are. I’ve been on LinkedIn for years, but more recently started leveraging the article posting tools. If you are publishing blog posts, you should definitely be syndicating them on LinkedIn.
You don’t need a special website dedicated to your brand, or even a book published to start to carve out your niche and brand identity. You do need to determine what you stand for, how you want people to perceive you and what tone of conversation you want to have. Every time you send an email it’s branding. Your voicemail message? Yep, branding. You can’t escape it, so embrace it.
Syama Meagher is a retail strategist for brands and retailers. She helps entrepreneurs launch and grow fashion business through ecommerce, wholesale and brick & mortar. Syama is a former at Barneys New York, Gucci, AHAlife and Macy’s. To build your brand and create a profitable business check out www.ScalingRetail.com and email firstname.lastname@example.org