There are more women becoming entrepreneurs and coaches now than ever before. And for women who are building a business around themselves as the key service provider, it’s important to stand out so your customers can identify why you are the one for them, over the other providers out there. This is known as personal branding. Contrary to the name, while personal branding IS about branding yourself, it’s more about helping customers find you. Sometimes the phrase, “personal brand,” elicits feelings of overwhelm and confusion. If you’re building a service-based business with you as the main provider, whether you’re a coach, consultant, hairstylist, financial planner, photographer, or other service-based business, I’m here to say you ARE in the business of personal branding. But it doesn’t have to feel overwhelming or out of reach. Here are the top 5 myths about building a personal brand strategy, and how to overcome them.
Myth #1: “Building a Personal Brand is Pretentious”
I’m proud to have grown up with solid Midwest values: honesty, integrity, hard work, and modesty. Though, in my entrepreneurship journey, I’ve had to unlearn, or rather, reshape my beliefs around some of these values. If you were raised like me, you were taught not to be boastful, to give kindness, to be charitable, and to be grateful for what you have. As valuable as these values are, they can cause a quandary when emerging as yourself in your business – in an increasingly competitive coaching, consulting, and freelancing world. The values of working hard, being grateful for what you have, and giving to others have at times negatively impacted my money story.
The value here that can really get in your way is this idea around modesty. If you are a service provider, you must figure out what differentiates you from your competition. It doesn’t need to be about the way you look or how flashy your marketing is. It has to do with the thing that makes you different and will provide value to your customers, thus attracting them to work with you. So, if you’re one of the people thinking personal branding is pretentious, let me ask you… is serving others pretentious? The act of personal branding is the act of emerging in all you are so you can serve OTHERS. It’s about you, but it’s more so about THEM. When you are who you are, and when you showcase your best self through your personal branding, it allows a few things to happen:
- It enables your best prospective customers to find you. Perhaps you specialize in up-leveling for executives who want to break free from the average corporate culture. Your brand is all about forward-thinking company culture, open-mindedness to who can be a leader, and your personal vibe is energetic and innovative. You want to inspire executives to open up creatively. If somebody knows somebody who is an executive who wants to up-level and advance their career but is tired of the corporate game, and tired of the same old executive coaches preaching the same philosophies, they are going to have a better chance of getting referred to you if you are the anti-stuffy executive coach. The more you narrow your message, the wider it goes. You don’t need to be all things to all people, you just need to matter to your ideal client. Deciding to confidently name your game is not being pretentious, it’s a smart positioning strategy, and the more you showcase who you are, inside and out, the more your message is heard.
- Secondly, it shows your prospective clients you are the real deal. You walk the walk, you talk the talk, and you give them the power to see that in themselves, and for themselves. If you’re a life flow coach for busy moms, teaching them how to find balance in motherhood, career-hood, and time for self-care, it helps if you have already found this flow yourself in your own life. When you show up honestly and peel back the curtain on your business or personal life (depending on your business), your clients will see you for who you are and will see that they can do it too.
The act of building a personal brand itself is not pretentious. If you genuinely want to help others, my best advice is to be authentic and let your true self shine through in your brand, and you will attract those who are meant to work with you.
Myth #2: “I’m too small to build a personal brand.”
Check out this photo – my Grandma Shelby was wild, outgoing, and made you feel alive and ready to have fun at any moment!
This is Grandma Evie:
While Grandma Evie had her wild side too, she was much more calm, collected, and always made everyone feel welcome at her home with plenty of food to go around. A brand is how you make people FEEL. It’s the impression people have about a person, company, or product. Each of my Grannies made someone FEEL something about them, that was their brand. Now, my grannies weren’t in business, but the point is, your customers will have an impression of you and your business, no matter your size. Therefore, you are NOT too small to have a brand. Whether you recognize it or not, if you are in business for yourself, you already have a brand. Your brand is what people say about you when you aren’t in the room. As an individual service provider, if you’re the person providing the service, or building a team around you, YOU are the BRAND. And it’s your job to ensure that how you desire people to feel about you and your services actually aligns with how customers feel about you.
Myth #3: “I can’t afford to have a brand.”
As we covered in point #2, whether you realize it or not, you already have a brand. I’d argue you can’t afford NOT to take command of your brand! If you do nothing, you’ll either be overlooked, or people will come to their own conclusions, which may not align with what you desire them to think about you. Therefore, you can’t afford NOT to have a brand.
There are 3 main components to developing a brand: The Visual Brand, Brand Messaging, and Brand Positioning. The visual brand is what aesthetically represents your business, including, your logo, website, or any other printed or branded materials. Messaging communicates what you do, why you’re different, and the outcomes or benefits customers gain by working with you. Messaging includes your tagline and copy used in marketing. The third element of branding is the positioning of your brand. Positioning is all about allowing your business strategy to inform your marketing efforts. Effective positioning involves marketing more strategically to increase profits. A huge key component (and what I argue is the most important in the first few years) is, MESSAGING. This is what allows you to connect with and attract your ideal clients. Developing your messaging requires answering the questions: why you’re different, and the outcomes or benefits that customers gain by working with you. Doing this work takes time, energy, and commitment, but it doesn’t have to cost thousands of dollars. If you aren’t sure if your brand is resonating in the way that you’d like it to, the first thing to do is the internal work to identify what you want your customers to feel about you and your business.
Myth #4: “Branding Doesn’t Get Me Sales”
Personal branding is the act of developing targeted messaging, a visual appeal that resonates throughout the brand, and positioning yourself in the market so your business can grow. Personal branding is strategic. It helps your best customers to find you. It allows you to build your email marketing funnel with people who either want to work with you now or later (long-term growth). Personal branding allows you to become an authority in your space. The more I’ve branded myself as a confident, empowering, rock-n-roll, brand clarity, and brand strategy expert, the more I’ve attracted companies who are looking for a fun and energetic speaker to speak on marketing. The more I share my personal story about how I built my confidence by overcoming money fears, developing solid packages and pitches, and uncovering and aligning with my OWN values (not someone else’s) the more that I attract fellow entrepreneurs who are stuck by the same fears and desire someone to coach them through it. Hence: branding got me sales. Branding can get you sales. It’s like a beautifully wrapped gift, what’s on the inside is really what matters the most, then, we develop the packaging to match what’s inside. Personal branding gets you sales because personal branding builds credibility. You can more easily close sales (and bigger sales) when you have credibility. Believe me yet?
Myth #5: “I’m not unique enough to have a brand.”
Every single one of us is, in some way, different from each other. Even identical twins sharing the same DNA will grow into their own individualities as life progresses. Because every one of us is different, we will each resonate differently with different people. And if you’re in business, you should be developing your personal brand from early in the game. Think about your 5 closest relationships – perhaps with a parent, sibling, friend, partner, or spouse. As alike as you are, I bet you can identify a lot of things that are very different in your decision-making process, your beliefs, and your interests.