What is the secret ingredient that fast-tracks entrepreneurial growth? Personal Branding for entrepreneurs when done well, exceeds competitor growth multiple times over. Strategically leveraging a Personal Brand drives business growth.
In today’s entrepreneurial landscape, your visibility as a leader is necessary. Consumers are overwhelmed by constant access to volumes of information and impersonal automated transactions.
Strategic Personal Branding compounds business growth. It makes you visible as an industry leader in a way that allows customers to feel more connected which will more likely prompt a purchase.
We’ve all seen good examples of Personal Branding. These are the entrepreneurs whom you know what they stand for and why they do what they do.
So, if Personal Branding is such a potent growth tactic for entrepreneurs, why aren’t more people doing it?
The truth is that even if you’re not actively building your Personal Brand, you already have one. It is the culmination of everything that your social media, speaking engagements, podcasts, blogs and LinkedIn articles say about you.
You are who Google says you are.
Did you know that of the 75% of US adults who Google themselves, nearly half say the results aren’t positive? What does Google say about you?*
So, the question should really be why aren’t more entrepreneurs doing it right?
This article discusses why Personal Branding is so important for entrepreneurs and gives practical actions and case studies to demonstrate why it’s such a smart business strategy.
How to Increase Business Growth for Entrepreneurs
For an entrepreneur, Personal Branding will accelerate their business success at an exponential rate, if it’s done well.
Personal Branding should be integrated with other branding and marketing strategies for your organisation and its products or services. This will increase market presence and opportunities to capture your target markets’ attention through engaging with interlinked brands – a Personal and a business brand/s.
Personal Branding puts the face of a leader in front of an organisation, product or service which builds audience trust. More than that, because it humanises an organisation, it imbues the organisation with a strong sense of values.
People create a connection with people who lead because they identify with the leader’s values. We hold our values at the core of our identity, who we are. So when we see someone sharing our values, we feel that we relate to them and we also expect they will understand us. This is what builds trust. Trust is the essence of any relationship.
1. Silencing the Imposter Syndrome
If statistics show that Personal Branding is such a potent business growth model for entrepreneurs, then why aren’t more people doing it?
Most people have a clear-cut case of imposter syndrome, which means they’re afraid that if they reveal ourselves in public, they will be exposed as a fraud.
“In my 27 years of working with leaders, celebrities and masters in their fields from around the world, every single person has either directly or indirectly spoken of this fear. It’s a fear of being revealed in public and not living up to people’s perceptions of us. The irony is that we all have this fear, in some way. The sooner we name it, accept that it’s there, we can move on and communicate with authentic power.”
Trudy Johnston, Founder of Vim + Zest
The fear is undeniably genuine. Putting your trust in someone to manage your most valuable professional asset – your reputation is big.
So how do we overcome the imposter syndrome?
If you look at some of the strongest leaders of past and present, such as Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, Mother Teresa and Michelle Obama, all of them have had people who disagreed with them. They’ve had people who didn’t like them.
It’s okay to be uncomfortable with the haters. The first step to overcoming imposter syndrome is to understand that you’ll never please everyone and it’s guaranteed that some people will not like what you have to say. You need to do whatever works for you to build your confidence. It’s more important to spend your energy finding your niche audience and speaking to the people who are most interested in your message – and values.
Leading and communicating your values can often require a certain amount of vulnerability in communication. Vulnerability is scary for most people, however it’s vulnerability that is the key that builds genuine trust and underpins the quality of relationships that create repeat customers and loyal tribes.
2. Mission-Centric Personal Branding: Activates Growth in Business
Personal Branding for entrepreneurs is the key to understanding how to grow your business by building visibility with credibility. When done well, building a genuine profile based on your values and your passion makes it attractive for customers.
Personal Branding is so potent for entrepreneurs because entrepreneurs typically create a business around something that they’re passionate about. Their business is a vehicle to live out a particular imperative or to achieve a vision or mission.
A genuine Personal Brand personifies an entrepreneur’s organisation, product or service, which ultimately makes them stand out from competitors in a way that is real, deep and inspires action.
3. Compound Growth in Business through the Brand Spiral
Personal Branding creates an upward spiral of awareness for both your personal and organisational brands. It’s called the Brand Spiral.
It works by using multiple channels to communicate both product and personal messages to increase exposure and build relationships exponentially faster than traditional models that don’t employ Personal Branding.
By actively linking your personal and organisational brands you create a symbiotic relationship of amplification.
“The Brand Spiral movement is potent. Essentially you are compounding the power of your organisational brand by strategically using your Personal Brand to build trust-based relationships.
The amplification and growth rate in a Brand Spiral is exponentially larger because people like to buy from people, not anonymous brands.
The more we build the authentic Personal Brand of an entrepreneur, the greater that will build the brand of their organisation. The greater we build the organisational brand, the more amplified the Personal Brand becomes.”
Trudy Johnston, Founder of Vim + Zest
Growing Your Business: How to Link Your Brands
1. Clear Messaging
The steps to creating strong, strategic and effective Personal Branding for entrepreneurs begins with a deep understanding of your ‘why’.
Why do you do what you do? Many people will change ‘what’ they do in life, but their ‘why’ tends to remain constant. It’s perennial and most often it comes from childhood inspiration.
Building the brand DNA means a dive to understand what you and your brand stand for. What values do you hold? What makes you different from your competitors?
With this level of clarity in place, a Personal Brand statement is possible with brand positioning and messaging solidified.
These will inform the brand personality and tone of voice your content will have. Tone of voice is how you uniquely communicate – authoritative, irreverent or humorous – with your audience. This will impact how your audience might feel after reading your words or hearing you speak?
2. Visual Identity
People buy with their eyes. First impressions count. In five seconds your audience will have decided to engage with you – or not. Your visual content speaks very loudly to your audience. It tells them who you are and what is important to you. It helps them decide if they hold the same values as you.
Your Personal Brand identity has a signature visual look that visually not only defines you as an individual, it helps you to become memorable. When done well, it will harmonise with your business brand in a way that increases consistency and congruence, as well as amplifies brand recognition. Your visual style can also directly contrast to the look of your business brand to strong effect.
Visual elements include wardrobe styling, photography, video, website, logo, typography, colour palette and imagery.
Working with a professional stylist, make-up artist, videographer and photographer is an investment that pays for itself many times over. Aside from the obvious benefits of ensuring that a powerful, authentic and signature look is created, there is an undeniable confidence that comes when professionals are able to enhance and grow your visual identity in ways you might not previously considered.
3. Audience-Centric Content
The entrepreneurs who truly harness Personal Branding’s power to grow their tribe understand the importance of building their online presence by understanding their audience – first.
Audiences are dynamic and made of various sub-groups (segments). They have wants and needs which are often different, and change rapidly in response to how the world changes. It takes dedicated research and strong listening to understand them and have a lens that’s current.
Typically, entrepreneurs have multiple audience sectors. Internal audiences include their team members, volunteers and partners. External audiences include customers and potential customers, councils, government and other industry bodies.
The way you communicate with each different audience sector might be different. This includes different messaging and different channels.
The key to understanding your audience is to know the quantitative data – their demographics; as well as their attitudes and values which form their psychographic information (qualitative data); and their geographic information (including online) to fully understand their aspirations and pain points.
In this way your content should be highly targeted, placed online exactly where they’ll find it and offer them the kind of value that makes them want to purchase.
When Personal Branding Really Matters
When executed well Personal Branding is a sustainable marketing and communications tactic that will grow your business in an ongoing and consistent manner.
However, there are three incidences when Personal Branding undoubtedly excels in its ability to deliver tangible results.
1. Driving Online Traffic and Sales as a primary business growth strategy
“A lot of people think paid media is essential to business growth. This is not true. It’s not a sustainable business model to rely purely on paid media. Authentic Personal Branding, strategic SEO Content and a strong social media presence can significantly improve your ability to both drive online traffic to your website and convert to sales.”
Tiare Leahy, Digital Manager at Vim + Zest
Did you know that 92% of people trust recommendations from individuals, even if they don’t know them, over organisational brands?**
That’s where your Personal Brand comes in. Personal Branding can direct your targeted key messages directly into forums where your audience is engaging, such as LinkedIn and Twitter. A recommendation of a Personal Brand not only increases awareness of your service or product, but also improves the credibility of that recommendation increasing the opportunity of higher conversion rates.
2. The Customer Pathway to Purchase
Today’s consumers extensively research their purchase decisions. They view multiple websites and social media feeds, check online reviews and talk to their family and friends before making a purchase. Mapping this purchase journey informs why Personal Branding is perfect for entrepreneurs in both pre and post-launch phases.
The journey of Personal Branding is essentially building that trust that closes the gap for your potential consumers between knowing about your product or service and making that purchase decision.
Essentially what you’re doing is building a network. You’re establishing a relationship with people before they actually meet you, and come into contact with your product or service.
This is important because people make decisions very quickly in today’s market. When they already know and trust your organisation, you swing that decision pendulum in your direction.
Fitness entrepreneur Kayla Itsines is a case study in building your tribe through Personal Branding to ensure the success of your next launch.
Kayla was originally a personal trainer who migrated her face-to-face boot camp product into an ebook in order to reach a wider audience. She then migrated the ebook into an interactive app called Bikini Body Girls. However, before she launched the app she actively used her Personal Brand, specifically through social media, to grow her tribe rapidly.
She focused on speaking about her own journey, providing valuable, practical tips and setting herself apart by being one of the first trainers to say it was okay to eat carbohydrates, which was a struggle many of her target market could relate to.
Kayla also shared her pregnancy journey and created pre and postnatal classes for her growing tribe.
She is honest, vulnerable and provides value. Her tribe trust her. That makes it very easy for them to say yes to upselling and cross selling efforts and the launch of new products.
3. Crisis Communications
A significant 87% of executives around the world rate reputation risk as more important or much more important than other strategic risks. Loss of good reputation impacts the financial bottom line. 41% stated that loss of revenue was the biggest impact on their business.***
In times of crisis there is a need for stability and empathy across all audiences – internal and external.
If entrepreneurs build an authentic Personal Brand then their communication should already have a platform that engenders trust makes them relatable.
This allows the audience to feel that the entrepreneur is empathic or understands them.
Timeliness and communication through the right channels are key during a crisis situation, but just as important is communicating with honesty, transparency and empathy.
Personal branding gives a leader that ability to communicate with emotional intelligence with an audience that they already have a deep connection with.
With that level of emotional intelligence, consumer trust can grow even stronger. It’s an invaluable resource in solving a crisis situation and preventing others from happening in the future.
A recent example of authentic and empathetic communication was when CEO of Airbnb, Brian Chesky, published an open, transparent letter about Airbnb’s challenges in laying off staff.
“It showed empathy. It showed personality. This Personal Brand message was very much about empathy, trust, vulnerability, humanness and a deep understanding where his audiences are and what is happening in their lives.”
Trudy Johnston, Founder of Vim + Zest
Learn From Others’ Mistakes
For every successful Personal Branding entrepreneur, there are plenty who have failed. Yet their stories can teach us just as much as their triumphs. There are four key mistakes that entrepreneurs most commonly make.
1. Pretending Personal Branding Doesn’t Matter
Whether it comes from a lack of marketing knowledge or perhaps a deeper, undiagnosed fear of the imposter syndrome, too many entrepreneurs never get their Personal Branding off the ground, because they simply underestimate its power.
There are two reasons this seriously hurts their business. The first is that the Brand Spiral movement is very potent. To ignore Personal Branding is to say no to a marketing resource that will multiply business growth rapidly.
The second reason is that every entrepreneur already has a Personal Brand. Most entrepreneurs just don’t manage it. So instead of helping them, it could be hindering them.
2. Presenting Yourself as Someone You’re Not
Authenticity is at the core of a well-crafted strategic Personal Brand. If your Personal Brand isn’t authentic, the best-case scenario you can hope for is that your message is unclear, not consistent and therefore fails to inspire your audience to act.
The worst-case scenario is that you are publicly challenged for being dishonest, your current business suffers financial losses and your poor personal reputation follows you into any future endeavour you attempt to execute.
The biggest misconception about Personal Branding is that you need to create a polished image that is made up of a persona that has little to no relationship to the real you. Being real is evident in how you present yourself, who you are, what you talk about, who you engage with and what you say ‘yes’ to.
3. Lack of Audience Awareness
It is one thing to understand the demographics of your audience. It is entirely another to understand what powers their motivations. What do they base their decisions on?
Can you or your product help alleviate something that they worry about? Can you or your product help them get more of something that is important to them?
Get into the mind of your audience and speak honestly and with vulnerability about things that matter. Add value to their lives.
4. Underestimating the Time and Resources Required to Develop a Brand
Personal branding requires time and resources. Doing it well means operating with clarity, strategy and purpose.
Founder of Thank You Daniel Flynn, has a strong, highly-purpose driven Personal Brand. While the company promotes its 55 personal care products that generate donations to clean water projects in developing countries, Daniel is a coveted speaker and who regularly shares his story.
“Daniel does an amazing job of peeling back the layers of what it took to establish Thank You. You really feel like you’re on the razor’s edge with him, on the journey of almost not making it.
Personal Branding is an unfolding, a revelation or journey. It takes time and effort, but the benefits are game changing.”
Trudy Johnston, Founder of Vim + Zest
Personal Branding for Entrepreneurs – Compound Growth
The irrefutable rapid-growth ability of authentic Personal Branding is available to any entrepreneur seeking to develop genuine, trust-based relationships with audiences that convert to sales. Entrepreneurs can learn a lot from others who have built empires through Personal Branding and even those who burnt them down. Some key learnings:
1. Build an authentic Personal Brand that you can link with your business brand with you as the face of your enterprise to accelerate business growth.
2. Understand that your Personal Brand grows the crucial networks with your audience before they meet you so your investment in time and resources is a key business builder.
3. Take heart. Know that just about everyone shares the imposter syndrome. Find your way to acknowledge and accept that no matter what you say, you might attract the ‘haters’. Make your commitment to your journey to build a sustainable, long-term brand far greater than your fear.
People actively seek empathetic and genuine connections with people, not anonymous brands. So make your brand genuine, authentic and attractive.
Essentially, Personal Branding is about building connections and relationships through trust. It’s the perfect tool for entrepreneurs wanting to launch or grow their business. And now is the perfect time.
Vim + Zest is a specialist Branding and Marketing agency for people and organisations that matter. We help leaders to create impact to build a better world.