Think Oprah. Think Lady Gaga. Think Trump. What do these three people have in common? It's their innate ability to create and maintain their individually unique and successful personal brands. So the question of the day is, what is your personal brand? You have one. It’s there. The real question is whether your current personal brand is what you want it to be?
Evaluate Your Personal Brand
The first step is to evaluate your personal brand. What is the perception of you by someone who knows you on a personal level (family, friends, etc.)? What is the perception of those who do business with you (employees, colleagues, families you serve, visitors to your funeral homes, etc.)? What is the perception of those who know you on a personal level, but have also done business with you? For these people are these brands not necessarily equal, but consistent?
Evaluate your personal brand yourself, but also ask those who are close with you to evaluate too. Look for consistencies and inconsistencies and take these into consideration.
Reinvent Your Personal Brand
There may be big changes you want to make to your personal brand, or there may simply be small tweaks you want to make. Regardless any changes are classified as “reinventing” your personal brand. When you want to reinvent your current brand and establish your new brand, great things to think about include:
What are your passions? What is your vision? What are your core strengths?
How is the message of your brand differentiated versus your competitors and other small business owners in your community?
How will my brand bring value to others?
Live Your Brand
While evaluating and reinventing your brand can happen in short order, living your brand will take a conscious effort every day.
Be authentic and true to you. This is not an act, this is not a show, this is the REAL you. The more authentic and true your brand is to the real you, the more enthusiasm you will have for living the brand and consequently a greater following.
Contribute to the community in ways that are consistent with the values of your personal brand.
Let’s say that you have a personal commitment to animals. Do you have a grief dog at the funeral home? Do you sponsor a fundraiser for the local SPCA? Have you held an adoption event for pets in the parking lot of the funeral home? Have you partnered with a local veterinarian to provide a free basic urn engraved with “Courtesy of Smith Funeral Home” when a family’s pet dies?
All of these ways contribute to the local community, deliver value to others, while also promoting your personal brand!
Share and promote others who value ideals consistent with your brand. You have networked with those in your community, now it’s time to help each other.
Maybe you know the owner of the local nursery and you use their flowers every year in your landscaping – have you ever thought about putting a sign out saying that the flowers are purchased locally from Jones Nursery? What a great way to help each other, and guess where some word of mouth referrals may come from… the owner and employees of Jones Nursery.
The same goes for social media, but too often social media is viewed as a one-way street. The more you share, support and cross-promote others, the more support your personal brand will receive. Share information that is useful to your followers and promote others whose cause is consistent to your brand.
Continually evaluate your personal brand and make sure it is bringing value to others.
On a regular basis, reflect on your actions. Have your actions contributed to your personal brand? Have any of your actions detracted from your personal brand? Has anything happened that might make you adapt and evolve your personal brand? Then… make adjustments.
Evaluating, reinventing, and living your brand is simply a continuous loop that once it ends, it starts right back up again. I am going to take from a TED talk by Jay Clouse (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGEqYCmtdss) to summarize personal branding:
If you have worked very hard for something, why would you allow yourself to get complacent? You risk losing all the progress you have made.
Every day you should be doing something to make yourself better. Move the ball forward by taking small steps everyday toward who you want to be.
Ask yourself, what did I do to improve my value statement? What would the world be missing if I wasn’t there?
Step outside your comfort zone to do new things, meet new people and grow as a person. If you do this, a series of fortunate events will happen and this will shape people’s perception and reality of you.
If you don’t define your own brand, someone will define it for you.