Personal branding is the new currency for the digital world. It’s the one thing that can improve your social standing and get you the attention you both need and deserve. To put it simply, branding is how a company or individual stands out from the rest of the crowd and cements themselves in a customer’s mind.
Quality personal branding can help you out in a variety of ways. It can establish your credibility, open the doors to new opportunities, and help drive your business for years to come. However, establishing an effective brand is difficult work. While there are many ways to optimize your brand, make sure you’re not falling into one of these common mistakes:
Not Paying Attention to Your Customer Avatar
In an ideal world, your brand would appeal to everyone. Unfortunately, few brands can successfully attract that broad range of customers. Instead, it’s more effective to focus your marketing efforts on a distinct subset of people.
You can see countless examples of customer segmentation in the real world. LinkedIn is a platform for ambitious professionals who want to network and move up in their careers. For that reason, their target audience consists of working adults, not children or teenagers. On the other hand, a company like Mattel targets children and their parents and probably won’t appeal to anyone else.
You must nail down who you’re targeting. Concentrate on your audience’s demographics (age, race, gender, location) and psychographics (values, beliefs, dreams) to paint a picture of the ideal customer. From there, you can determine the best way your company can appeal to them. Launching a brand without a customer avatar is akin to taking a road trip without a map — you’ll only end up getting lost.
Thinking Branding is a Popularity Contest
Related to the previous point, many entrepreneurs treat branding as if it’s a popularity contest. They think that they need to advertise to as many people as possible if they want to succeed.
While there’s nothing wrong with casting a wide net, it doesn’t guarantee anything. Everyone wants to be the most well-liked and well-respected person out there, but that’s not an attainable goal for the vast majority of entrepreneurs.
Rather than trying to appeal to everyone, focus on appealing to your core customer base. Who’s your target audience, and what can you do to get them to notice you? Why should they care about you and what services you can offer?
Consider this hypothetical situation: Let’s say that you’re a nurse specializing in caring for seniors. How and where would you advertise your business?
You could try and send out as many advertisements and fliers as possible, but you might not get any good responses. However, if you specifically advertise in areas where there are many seniors, such as retirement communities, you’re much more likely to find the clients you seek.
Remember to prioritize quality over quantity here. It’s better to focus your efforts on areas that are most likely to respond favorably to your advertising rather than relying on blind luck.
Not Being Consistent in Your Branding
Consistency is vital in branding. Your audience expects something from you and will be very shocked if you stray from the norm. After all, research shows that maintaining a consistent brand image can increase revenue by 33%.
For example, Tesla is well-known for its luxurious environmentally-friendly products. Their most famous items are their electric cars, but they also sell battery energy storage and solar panels. They’re clearly a company that cares a lot about saving the environment.
What if Tesla’s new car was a gas guzzler that spewed emissions into the air? What if someone caught Elon Musk dumping his trash into the ocean? How would those situations look for the company?
That’s why it’s essential to care about consistency in branding. If you don’t meet people’s expectations, they’ll gladly abandon you to find someone else. Consistency is an integral part of building trust with your audience. Upholding that trust ensures that your audience will stay with you for a long time.
Not Focusing on Your Audience
“Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.” – Steve Jobs, co-founder and former CEO of Apple
Apple’s customer loyalty is like nothing else. People line up for several blocks outside of an Apple store just to get their hands on whatever new iPhone they just released.
Part of the reason Apple has so many loyal customers is due to their focus on customer satisfaction. People love their Apple products and can’t get enough of them. Everything from their sleek design to their cutting-edge graphics makes Apple loyalists swoon with glee. They’ll happily spend thousands of dollars and wait for several hours in line to get their hands on the latest release because that’s just how much the product means to them.
If you’ve ever walked into an Apple store, you’ll quickly realize how superior their customer care is. Any Apple employee is more than happy to show you how every product works, how it fits into your life, and what it can do for you. Apple’s customer service is equally top-notch with quick response times and, if you have AppleCare+, same-day repairs.
The bottom line is that Apple treats its customers like royalty and provides something that customers love. In return, customers become diehard loyalists and are more than willing to spend their money on Apple’s latest offerings.
Remember this: your service doesn’t solely exist to make you money. It’s also there to help out an unfulfilled need in the market. Whether you babysit, write code, clean houses, or walk dogs, you’re helping someone else solve a problem. Your customer is your greatest asset and ally, so treat them as such.
Not Showing Off Your Uniqueness
Part of personal branding is to stand apart from the crowd. You want to show why you’re better than all the other competitors.
Consider Costco as another real-life example. Why would over 105 million people pay for an annual Costco membership when they can just as easily shop at other grocery stores? The answer? Branding.
Costco brands itself as a price-conscious alternative to other grocery stores. Some of its staples, such as its inexpensive gas and $5 roasted chicken, help draw customers worldwide. They know that Costco will provide high-quality goods at a lower price than other stores. It doesn’t matter that Costco is always crowded or requires an annual membership — Costco’s loyal customers see it as a superior alternative to the competition.
How can your customers love your brand the same way, so many people love Costco? What sets you apart from the rest of the crowd?
You must give your audience a reason to keep returning to your brand instead of everyone else.
Trying to Build a Brand Overnight
“Rome wasn’t built in a day,” the adage goes.
Similarly, your brand won’t magically come to life overnight. It takes time, effort, and patience to create a high-quality brand. There are no shortcuts.
Start your branding journey by mapping out everything you must do to succeed. This might include, but isn’t limited to, a logo, slogan, portfolio, LinkedIn profile, professional headshot, resume, customer persona, and value proposition. All these elements combine to create a memorable and irresistible brand.
Don’t be afraid to go back to the drawing board when needed. You might find that you want to revamp an element of your brand or that you want to experiment with something else. It can be difficult to pinpoint your brand elements that aren’t working, so don’t be afraid to try new things and record the results.
It took 15 years and 5,127 attempts for James Dyson to invent the bagless vacuum. He relied on his wife’s salary as an art teacher to fund his research. Dyson worked harder in that decade and a half than most people do during their entire lives. Most people would’ve thrown in the towel, but Dyson never gave up. His efforts paid off as he is now the richest man in Britain with a net worth of £16.2 billion.
While your brand hopefully won’t take 15 years to complete, you can see how Dyson’s story illuminates the value of hard work and perseverance.
Personal branding might take a lot of hard work but is always worth the effort. A high-quality brand can help carry you to success beyond your wildest dreams. It can help win customers, improve your reputation, and open the doors to incredible opportunities.
Want to learn more about branding? Check out our Personal Branding Strategy Playbook for tips and tricks.
Article by Patrick W. Dunne