Archive for ‘Check your brand’

12/05/2011

Are you the real deal?

Your personal brand has to be authenticI once had a discussion with an HR Director about leadership development where we found ourselves listing the attributes we felt all good leaders should have.  High on our list, if not in top spot, was authenticity – one of the 3 Golden Rules of Personal Branding.  But then my companion made an interesting point: it depends on your definition of the word.  She’d worked with executives who felt being authentic was as simple as not telling a lie – what I’d classify as ‘truthfulness’, which doesn’t in itself constitute being authentic.  

So instead, here’s my definition:

  • Authenticity is knowing and understanding who the real you is – from the tangible, rational aspects of your image, skills and experience, to the more intangible, emotional aspects of you behaviours, beliefs and values
  • Authenticity is accepting the real you comprises not only the great attributes but also the not so great – and being willing to let others see both
  • Authenticity is being the real deal at all times with all people – regardless of occasion or status

Do you agree? And if not, what constitutes authenticity for you?  Leave a comment!

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Please help me to spread the word using the buttons below.  Or if you’d like to learn more, check out my other blogs and follow me on Twitter.  Or drop me an email at jennifer.holloway@sparkexec.co.uk.  Thank you! 

Spark specialises in branding, but not for companies – for people.  Personal branding delivers many benefits including: career development, reputation management, online presence, leadership development, talent management, social media marketing, presentation skills, networking skills and personal marketing. Spark delivers personal branding to executives and senior managers in Leeds, Harrogate, Skipton, York, Bradford and the Yorkshire area, as well as in London and other UK cities. The company was founded by Jennifer Holloway and her 15 years’ experience in PR coupled with several years as an executive coach means she delivers a personal brand service unlike any other in Yorkshire.
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20/04/2011

Try the personal brand experiment

Experiment with your personal brandLet’s try an experiment.  Grab yourself a pen and paper and before you read any further than this sentence, write down your answer to the following question: “What do you offer as your personal brand?”

x

x

[I’m leaving a bit of a gap here so you don’t cheat and read ahead!]

x

x

So what did you put? Did you answer with a description of what you DO, or did you answer with a description of what YOU do?

The difference?  The first one is the default setting we’ve been trained to use – to define ourselves by our job titles and roles. But whilst that is certainly part of what you have to offer, if you leave your personal brand at that all you’re doing is putting yourself into a box with every other person that does that job.

The second description however – what YOU do – says what you bring to the job that others don’t. And that’s what people need to know when they’re deciding whether or not to buy into you.  So think about that the next time you’re promoting your personal brand!

PS: If you’d like to meet me in person to find out more about your personal brand I’m running a workshop with the fabulous image consultant Natalia Colman of Style Specialists, whose guest blog has appeared on this site.  All the information is at: http://lookinggoodsoundinggreat.eventbrite.com/

PPS: I’ll be taking advantage of the unusually long Easter break to unchain myself from my laptop and spend some time outdoors chasing the chickens from the vegetable patch and doing other fun pursuits – so my next blog will follow in a couple of weeks’ time.  Cheers and enjoy the sunshine if we get it!

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I’d love to know how you got on with the experiment so leave a comment!  And please help me to spread the word using the buttons below.  Or if you’d like to learn more, check out my other blogs and follow me on Twitter.  Thank you! 

Spark specialises in branding, but not for companies – for PEOPLE, helping clients to market themselves so they stand out from the crowd, building a reputation that enables them to be even more successful just by being themselves.   Spark delivers personal branding to executives and senior managers in Leeds, Harrogate, Skipton, York, Bradford, Wakefield and the Yorkshire area, as well as in London and other UK cities. The company was founded by Jennifer Holloway and her 15 years’ experience in PR coupled with several years as an executive coach means she delivers a personal brand service unlike any other. 
14/03/2011

What Is Your Business Card Saying About You?

Personal brand business cards reputation management marketingYou’ve gone to the networking event and avoided all the pitfalls of making a bad impression – Congratulations!

Now it’s time to turn your attention to your business card – that little rectangle that says more about your personal brand than you might imagine – and which carries on saying it long after you’ve left the room.  So get one of your cards out now – go on, I’ll wait for you…

Now you’re back, take a good long look at your card, read the wording, look at the logo, turn it over, feel the card, give it a bit of a flick with your thumb.  And while you’re doing that, ask yourself these questions about your personal brand:

  • What are some of your key values and beliefs you want your personal brand to convey? 
  • What is the reputation you want your personal brand to build? 
  • What skills is your personal brand pitching to your audiences?
  • What image is your personal brand projecting?
  • And most importantly…does my card say all of that?

If not, here’s a few of the ways to get it communicating all you need it to:

Size and shape
There’s a standard size for UK business cards and it’s good to stick to that so your card will fit into people’s filing systems, wallets, etc.  If your brand is more stand out though, you can play around with the sizing, but don’t go too far off the mark.  Too small and it will get lost, too big and it will end up in a different place from all the others (possibly what my friend calls the B1N file!)  Changes to the shape are an option too: rounded corners (all four or just one or two), cut outs and folding all help make it a little bit different.

Card weight
A flimsy card conveys a cheap brand and unless you’re selling a product or service specifically on low price, steer clear of anything less than 300gsm (that’s printer’s jargon for the thickness of paper and card).   Cheap deals such as those on offer by Vistaprint are rarely worth it when you consider the business you might be losing, because if you can’t be bothered to invest in your company, why should I?

Quality of print
As with the card weight, it’s worth paying for decent printing to get the crispness of text and depth of colour to bring your card to life.  If your ink’s smudged and your details a little blurred around the edges, I’m going to think that of your brand too!

Colours
There’s a whole psychology about what different colours mean and it’s something my friend Peter Bryant at Gold Design has been blogging about so check if yours is on the button.

Content
When you think of the purpose of a business card, this is the important bit.  Your card has to contain everything the recipient needs to know once you’ve parted ways: a) your name, b) what you do and c) how to get in touch (by all means, including Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook if appropriate).  That may seem simple but I’ve had some cards where the person’s just put their initial and not their full name, or there’s only their company name and nothing to tell you what they do, or the phone number has been missing.  I’ve ended up with the impression their attention to detail and understanding of my needs is somewhat lacking – not things I’m going to buy into!

And for anyone who’s thinking, “But I have a corporate business card and no say in how it looks,” it’s still possible to stand out from the crowd and be memorable.  Here are some tips:

  • You could underline your mobile number with the words, “And here’s the best number to get me on so I can speak to you personally,” (conveying your value of taking responsibility).
  • You could write a personal note on it before you hand it over, something that has relevance to your conversation – perhaps the name of a restaurant you’ve recommended or a useful website (conveying a mutual interest and emotional connection).
  • Or you can say something witty when presenting your card.  I  was once given a particularly thick card with the words, “And it doubles up as an ice scraper.” I’m never going to forget him!


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If you’ve enjoyed these musings, don’t be shy…leave a comment!  And please help me to spread the word using the buttons below.  Or if you’d like to learn more, check out my other blogs and follow me on Twitter.  Or drop me an email at jennifer.holloway@sparkexec.co.uk.  Thank you! 

Spark specialises in branding, but not for companies – for PEOPLE, helping clients to market themselves so they stand out from the crowd, building a reputation that enables them to be even more successful just by being themselves.   Spark delivers personal branding to executives and senior managers in Leeds, Harrogate, Skipton, York, Bradford, Wakefield and the Yorkshire area, as well as in London and other UK cities. The company was founded by Jennifer Holloway and her 15 years’ experience in PR coupled with several years as an executive coach means she delivers a personal brand service unlike any other.
02/02/2011

Who’s buying your personal brand?

Who's buying your personal brandWithout a doubt, the answer to that question will be, “Not everyone.”  And that’s exactly as it should be. 

As I said in my last blog, PEOPLE BUY PEOPLE – and the trick to being confident with your personal brand is accepting not everyone is going to buy you.  So embrace the fact and let it give you confidence when it comes to promoting who you are and what you’re all about.  I certainly did…

I once received anonymous feedback on my brand (something everyone should do – a reality check is never a bad thing).  The person said: “Jennifer has a strong style, like double espresso, but sometimes I want tea.”

Now, my first reaction was horror.  “Oh my goodness, I’ve obviously annoyed someone by being too OTT.  I should tone it down in future and keep my mouth shut more.”

And then I remembered the 3 Golden Rules of Personal Branding:

1. Be Authentic
If I tried to sell tea just because I knew someone was a tea drinker somewhere down the road I’d slip back into my authentic role: a coffee seller.  As soon as that was revealed, they wouldn’t trust my brand and the buy in would stop.

2. Be Clear
My personal brand is double espresso – I have a strong style that lets you know I love and believe passionately in what I do.  Adding tea to the mix would add confusion, and confused people don’t buy.

3. Be Consistent
If I gave people double espresso one day and tea the next, they’d start to question what I was selling.  If people can’t trust what they’re getting, they’re not going to buy.

So the result is the same: lose sight of the rules and you lose the buy in of your audience. The great thing is though, there’ll be someone out there whose personal brand is all about tea and if they’re promoting that clearly, consistently and authentically, the tea drinkers will soon find them.

One caveat that needs to be added : if you’re finding that too few people are buying into your brand, it may not be that you haven’t found your market, but that what you’re selling isn’t what people want to buy.  So take time to re-evaluate your personal brand, still following the 3 Golden Rules – you could just find your perfect USP!

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If you liked this blog (or if you disagree with it) don’t be shy…leave a comment!  And please help me to spread the word using the buttons below.  Or if you’d like to learn more, check out my other blogs and follow me on Twitter.  Or drop me an email at jennifer.holloway@sparkexec.co.uk.  Thank you! 

Spark specialises in branding, but not for companies – for PEOPLE, helping clients to market themselves so they stand out from the crowd, building a reputation that enables them to be even more successful just by being themselves.   Spark delivers personal branding to executives and senior managers in Leeds, Harrogate, Skipton, York, Bradford, Wakefield and the Yorkshire area, as well as in London and other UK cities. The company was founded by Jennifer Holloway and her 15 years’ experience in PR coupled with several years as an executive coach means she delivers a personal brand service unlike any other. 

28/01/2011

Power to the People!

personal brand coaching yorkshire reputation managementMy last two blogs – Business is Changing: Part I and Part II – were about setting the scene; making it clear that to get ahead in business today you need to use your personal brand to counteract the evolution of technology, working patterns, competition…the list goes on.

Getting a clear plan of action can be mind-boggling so if there was only one thing  readers should take from those blogs it’s this: PEOPLE BUY PEOPLE.

You’re probably nodding your head.  “Uh-huh, she’s got that right.”  You may even be thinking about times you’ve bought something you didn’t expect to, just because you just clicked with the salesperson.  (I’ve got a raspberry coloured knitted coat for exactly that reason.  Believe me, it looks a lot better than it sounds.)

You may also be thinking about times you didn’t buy something you were going to for exactly the opposite reason.  I had a friend who decided she was going to buy a new Audi A3 – sure as eggs is eggs.  So she drove to the nearest dealership, walked in, met the salesman and within 10 seconds thought, “I am never going to buy a car from you.”  The messages she got from his handshake and tone of voice communicated everything she needed to know about his personal brand…and she didn’t buy it.  He could have offered to gift wrap the car and deliver it to her door with a million quid in the boot and it would have made no difference.  So she got in her car, drove 13 miles to the next dealership and bought the A3 there.

Need any more convincing???

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If you liked this blog (or if you disagree with it) don’t be shy…leave a comment!  And please help me to spread the word using the buttons below.  Or if you’d like to learn more, check out my other blogs and follow me on Twitter.  Or drop me an email at jennifer.holloway@sparkexec.co.uk.  Thank you! 

Spark specialises in branding, but not for companies – for PEOPLE, helping clients to market themselves so they stand out from the crowd, building a reputation that enables them to be even more successful just by being themselves.   Spark delivers personal branding to executives and senior managers in Leeds, Harrogate, Skipton, York, Bradford, Wakefield and the Yorkshire area, as well as in London and other UK cities. The company was founded by Jennifer Holloway and her 15 years’ experience in PR coupled with several years as an executive coach means she delivers a personal brand service unlike any other. 
22/11/2010

A snapshot of your personal brand

Online profiles are a great way to get your personal brand out there, with one of the most popular sites being LinkedIn.  But just because you’re not selling your brand face-to-face doesn’t mean you can take your eye off the ball when it comes to getting the message right.

And a big part of that message is your photo – they don’t say a picture paints a thousand words for nothing!  But have you got yours right?  Here are some suggestions to make yours work with some pointers about what doesn’t work (to see what I mean, check out the photos of your connections and consider what personal brand messages they convey to you):

A brand opportunity – Your photo is a chance to get across something about your personal brand, so use it.  Do not waste the chance by leaving it blank or using your logo instead – it’s impersonal.

Reflect your personality – Always have a smile (unless your personal brand is that you’re uber serious) and try to reflect an aspect of your brand eg lean against a wall to show you’re relaxed, look off to the side if you’re a bit cheeky, have the photo in black and white if you want to add gravitas.  Do not be so unapproachable that you look like a photofit on Crimewatch.

Appropriateness – If your online profile is used as a business tool, make sure your photo sends a business message.  Do not use a social snap ie that one of you out with your mates (even if you have tried to crop them out of the photo) or you on your wedding day or you stood next to that cool car or you on your holiday (I’ve seen them all).

Sizing – Make sure I can distinguish what you look like from your photo using the cropping option when you upload it, so that your face takes up most of the picture area.  Do not have your face so small that it would be impossible to recognise you in a crowded room.

Background – Have a plain, contrasting background to the photo to make it easier to focus on your face.  Do not have a plant growing out of your head or a pile of messy papers in front of you.

Quality – If you can afford it, get a professional photo taken – it really makes a difference (it may be you can barter your services for those of a photographer you know).  Do not use a snap that looks like it was taken in the booth at the railway station.

Do all that and you’ll be sending out positive messages about your personal brand that put you ahead of the competition and make you stand out from the crowd.

If you’ve enjoyed these musings, don’t be shy…leave a comment!  And please help me to spread the word using the buttons below.  Or if you’d like to learn more, check out my other blogs and follow me on Twitter.  Or drop me an email at jennifer.holloway@sparkexec.co.uk.  Thank you!

Spark specialises in branding, but not for companies – for PEOPLE, helping clients to market themselves so they stand out from the crowd, building a reputation that enables them to be even more successful just by being themselves.   Spark delivers personal branding to executives and senior managers in Leeds, Harrogate, Skipton, York, Bradford, Wakefield and the Yorkshire area, as well as in London and other UK cities. The company was founded by Jennifer Holloway and her 15 years’ experience in PR coupled with several years as an executive coach means she delivers a service unlike any other.