If someone were to ask you what your brand is, how would you answer them? Would it be your slogan or tag-line? Your logo? Perhaps it’d be your product or service? Then again, maybe it’s your business’s direction. If the question doesn’t give you an immediate answer, don’t worry – you’re not alone.
In today’s business world, particularly with the proliferation of Web 2.0 resources for marketing and promoting your company/name/product, it’s becoming even more blurry to define what exactly a brand is.
One thing that is definable, however, is that if you do have an effective and immediately recognizable brand, your business will be better positioned to succeed over your competitors. So how do you build your brand today?
Build Your Experience
If your brand is defined by who you are and what you offer, then the experience you have is going to be crucial at backing up your brand claims. After all, why should a business entrust you with building their brand if your own isn’t all that impressive? On the flip side, make sure your experience is in the field relevant to the brand you wish yourself or your company to be known for.
Self-Promotion is the Way Forward
Although you may feel that self-promotion is akin to egomania, how else are you going to get your brand known? Sure, if you have a client or two that mentions your services to a professional colleague or business partner, that’s the best kind of promotion you can have. Yet as much as we’d like to think our clients talk about us even in their sleep, that’s not always a realistic view.
Instead, start pushing your name out there. However, make sure you keep on the right side of self-promotion – after all, no-one likes a show-off. Some excellent ways of self-promotion include:
- Setting up your own domain name (especially now that .me is available)
- Have an online as well as offline resume
- Set up a blog to share your views on the topic(s) you wish to be associated with
- Use web applications like MeeID to show short snippets of information about you
The importance of using these types of self-promotion can’t be stated enough. Google makes it incredibly easy for information on companies and individuals to be found – if your brand doesn’t stand up to the scrutiny of an online search by a potential client, you may as well kiss goodbye to any chance of success.
Offer Your Expertise
Similar to building your experience, becoming an expert in your niche (and sharing that expertise) is a proven way to build your brand – just look at Chris Brogan for a good example. After all, what could be better than having someone immediately thinking of you as “the go to guy” when it comes to a certain area of help or expertise being needed? Write free articles or white papers; offer to speak at local conferences or meetings; offer to write a regular column in your local newspaper. All of these methods will steadily help identify you as someone to come to, either from a business or professional point of view.
It’s All in the Relationships
One of the best and most effective methods of building your brand is via your relationships. As I mentioned when speaking about self-promotion, word-of-mouth is still the best form of promotion around. Therefore, the more contacts you have and networks you belong to, the more chance there is of being talked about.
When you meet someone and become contacts with each other, maintain that relationship. Keep in touch and ask how they’re doing, as well as offering tidbits of your latest news and successes. By looking after each relationship, you’re more likely to be recommended to other people than someone who just contacts someone when you need something.
Of course, building your brand is just half the battle. Keeping it is just as difficult – there will always be contemporaries and business competitors after the same target audience as you. This is why it’s so important to continuously strive to improve and strengthen your brand at every opportunity. Look after your contacts; look after your clients; increase your knowledge and never stop learning.
In answer to the original question, your brand is quite simply you. Make sure you look after it.