Part 2: The Technical Elements Of Personal Branding

When we think about branding we often think about websites, logos, and social media pages, but successful branding goes much deeper than that. Successful brands create an entire community that people can become a part of. In order to build a loyal following it means that people aren’t just buying into your product or service, they are buying into your brand as an image and an identity in itself, whose values and experiences reflect those of their own. The more that people can understand and identify with your brand the more likely they are to choose your offering over the nearest competitor’s. How would your target market describe your brand to someone hearing about it for the first time? This is your brand’s identity, and it’s carefully crafted through a consistent brand narrative, personality, set of visuals, and overall brand image, which work together to reinforce your competitive angle and solidify your position in the market. 

BUILDING YOUR BRAND’S NARRATIVE

The narrative is the story behind your brand. It brings meaning to your brand that customers can emotionally connect with. The story is about where your brand started from and what it’s working towards; what it believes to be true and what it’s committed to. When a customer uses your product, hires your service, or reads your blog, how does it make them feel? That’s what your story is communicating. Your brand’s narrative is an incredible opportunity to connect with your audience and stand out from competitors. People want to be a part of something bigger, so it’s critical that you give them that. 

HOW CAN YOU YOU EXECUTE THIS? 

Craft your story about who you are/ how your brand started and what it is committed to. Put it in writing somewhere that new and existing customers can see it (i.e., about me, about us, who we are). You can separate it by having an “about me page” and a separate vision/mission statement for your brand. 

Use Instagram Stories and Snap Chat to give your audience a glimpse “behind the scenes” of your brand. Let people see how your brand is committed to its promise on the day-to-day. Short clips of inspiration, “keeping it real,” the luxurious life, daily struggles- whatever daily stories will help your audience to feel like they are a part of your brand and want to champion your brand. 

Use your social media posts to encourage a call to action. This is where you can display short stories of your brand’s narrative (directly and indirectly). The daily versus that show the results of your skill set and competitive advantage, but in a way that educates and inspires your followers who share the same goals (i.e., to shop that look, make that recipe, contribute to a green initiative, etc.,). When you advertise your brand through story telling it is far more likely to be remembered. 

BUILDING YOUR BRAND’S PERSONALITY

Your brand’s personality is the set of human characteristics that your followers would use to describe your brand. It’s the tone and voice of your brand, and how it behaves. The most successful brands are the ones that can evoke feelings from their audience and build a relationship with them- your brand needs a personality to do this. Having a unique and defined brand personality is a key driver in differentiating from your competition. Your brand’s personality should be one that is true to you, and in line with your target audience.  

Examples of brand personalities:

Cool, wise, bold, socially-conscious, sassy, rebellious, conservative, intellectual, traditional, inspiring, adventurous...

HOW CAN YOU EXECUTE THIS?

The captions on your Instagram, Snap Chat stories, Insta-Stories, business tag-lines, paid advertising, are all opportunities to show your brand’s personality. Just like all areas of branding, your brand’s personality has to be consistent in order to build a strong, trusting relationship with your audience. Reinforce your brand’s personality through interactions with your followers and customers on social media by liking, sharing, and commenting on posts that are in line with what your brand is committed to. 

BUILDING YOUR BRAND'S VISUAL BRAND IDENTITY

Your brand’s visual identity is the imagery that your brand uses to communicate with its target audience. It’s how you present your brand’s narrative, personality, and show “who” your brand is and what it’s about. The type of visual content that your brand should have depends on who your audience is and what problem you are solving for them. We will focus on online platforms for now.

1. WHO IS YOUR AUDIENCE?

The importance of knowing who your target market is repeats itself time and time again. The demographics of your target market (i.e., age, occupation, lifestyle) dictate the mandatory place your brand must be present; the places your market seeks out its information, socializes, and expects to find you. 

2. WHAT PROBLEM ARE YOU SOLVING?

Each media platform should serve a specific role that works to reinforce your competitive advantage and solidify your brand identity. Not every social network is the right fit for your brand, so its critical that you take the time to research where your market is and which platforms you need to drive home your brand’s message.

  • Pinterest is heavily focused on advice and DIY tricks, predominantly female, with a common user age of 25-45. If your brand is about DIY bridal advice then having a strong, actionable (pin-able) Pinterest presence is a must.

  • Facebook is all about building a community and opening doors for discussion. If creating a safe, open, and encouraging environment is part of your brand then creating a Facebook group/page is a must. The same goes for Google+. (Keep in mind the average age of users on each platform). 

  • If your brand deals with anything instructional then having a strong YouTube channel is critical. Video content is also a great way to display your personality as an extension of your brand’s if it will serve as a competitive advantage for you (i.e., showing whit, charisma, intellectual capacity, silliness). 

  • Twitter is all about instantaneous commentary that displays your brand’s unapologetic self and true opinion.

  • As mentioned earlier, Snap Chat and Insta-Stories give your audience a glimpse “behind the scenes” of your brand and provide proof that your brand is who it says it is. Organic, effortless self-promotion is key on these platforms. 

  • Finally, your Instagram page. Instagram posts represent the slices of content that speak to the core of your brand- what your brand wants your target audience to feel, remember, and think about that day. Through the combination of both images and captions your page should reflect what your brand stands for and what it values. 

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

All of your branding efforts are done to inspire a specific call to action from your audience (purchase, hire, read, donate, visit) on your non-social-media-dependent platform (a.k.a. your website), so consistency in brand narrative, personality, and overall image across each platform is essential. Your website is the final step in the equation. Your brand identity on your site should be in line with all of your other platforms, and your company’s tag line and/or purpose should be clearly stated to remove any remaining uncertainty from your audience, especially in the early stages. In addition, displaying your brand’s credibility also helps drive customer confidence in the early stages (i.e., customer testimonials, celebrity endorsements, educational background and awards). Finally, when it comes to your logo its best to just keep it simple. A logo by itself doesn’t carry intrinsic meaning, it will take time for your audience to come to associate your brand with your logo, so focus more on your brand’s message at the start.

Building your brand identity is an exciting part of your entrepreneurial journey, and a turnkey in developing a strong market presence. Good luck in this stage, have fun in this stage, and always remember to keep it consistent! 

Yours truly,

Sinead

Bloomberg Global Business Forum 2017: Designing A Future For Tomorrow

My mind is still racing, and I am not quite sure that I want it to stop. Yesterday I witnessed the power of true leadership. I was surrounded by a unified force of individuals who are actively moving this planet in the right direction; who are using their unmatched intellectual capacities, political platforms, and economic resources for good, and only for good. Individuals who are committed to positive changes, progressive changes, and sustainable changes. There are those who carry titles and there are those who lead, and despite how things may feel, I am confident that the force of those who are leading is stronger.

 

THE PURPOSE OF THE FORUM

The Bloomberg Global Business Forum hosts the world’s most significant leaders and their plans to solve today’s most pressing economic issues. This year's conference was centered around merging public and private sector forces to multiply power. From climate change to healthcare, governments are not equipped with all of the resources needed to overcome the obstacles in these industries and drive a sustainable future. Businesses can help where governments can’t do it alone, and by aligning forces the whole world seeks to prosper.

Here are my key takeaways from a selection of today’s leaders:

BILL CLINTON (OPENING SPEAKER):

Partnerships are undeniably more successful then governments acting alone.The future of this world will depend on whether we believe that social strength, economic performance, and political power flow from division or multiplication, subtraction or addition. 

PRESIDENT MACRON:

President Macron is pushing an entire transformative agenda. He wants to rebuild France around the digital future. A future that includes A.I., inclusive finance, and climate change. He believes that we need to equip our workforce and education with tools that will prepare individuals for a future that includes advanced A.I. and technology (don’t waste time training people for roles that will be replaced by robots).  

When asked about the future of the European Union he stated that it comes down to whether we can develop a 10 year vision for the EU or not. The Europe Union lacks a unified ambition; there is no clear place for the middle classes. There is no way to progress when your middle classes don’t have a direction. 

Finally, when it comes to climate change he stated that it is the role of the private sector to be faster than the public sector; revising the financial models to include reduced emissions, because they have the capital to do so. But a big focus we all must have is on ensuring that our climate change actions are present in every agenda, both locally and abroad. When investing in Africa and other emerging markets, we don’t bring them the old business models, we bring them the new, climate change-inclusive ones. Up until now we have been taking advantage of how we make investments in developing countries, and not bringing them our green initiatives- that needs to change. 

JACK MA:

Governments need to be working with businesses to create more jobs for the future, and not against businesses to help jobs of the past. For example, when cars were first made and used in England people protested the British government in an uproar because of the potential job loss, so the government put in a stipulation that “no car could drive faster than a horse.” The government was designing policies for the jobs of yesterday. A lot of government’s today still operate this way.

We need to pay more attention to small businesses and help them grow, as small businesses solve the problems and worries we have about the future. Small businesses see these problems as opportunities. 

Finally, governments need to revise our education systems. What we teach today will make the kids lose jobs in the next 30 years, because everything we are teaching them machines will take over. We have to re-arrange our education system because of A.I. and machine learning, we have to teach our kids to be innovative, creative, and operate with EQ, (emotional intelligence) that machines don’t have.

TIM COOK (APPLE CEO):

People have values and companies are no more than an extension of people, so as a company you have to decide what those values are. There are many companies that want to give back and help solve some of society's greatest problems, but governments need to be open to working with them.

Apple runs 100% of its operations in China on renewable energy, and is now working to try and solve China’s human rights issues. Businesses want to work on societal problems.

When it comes to education, there is an incredible desire to bring coding to the masses. This is the key for the middle classes, as coding has become fundamental to all our businesses. Kids are so engaged and want to learn about the digital economy; they are growing up digital. There has been a lack of development dollars spent on schools, so Apple has stepped in and is training teachers right now to equip our next generation with skills for the future.

Finally, when it comes to DACA and immigration, Apple is forcefully pushing against the administration to reverse its recent policy, and will continue to fight for DACA children. Apple has a voice that can be heard by the administration, as do many of the world’s big businesses, and is using it for good. There is an incredible opportunity to work with everyone throughout the world on issues- the future is optimistic. 

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG

Businesses and governments need to be in the same the discussion room, as businesses can fix problems that government can’t, and visa versa. Case in point, natural disasters. Governments work slow and cumbersome because they have to protect the public sector's money. Private businesses can operate faster. Private businesses have incredible power to lobby for things like better education, and companies like Apple have done incredible things to solve world issues. Imagine they could focus even more on societal problems. As soon as we let businesses in the discussion rooms, they will. 

When it comes to climate change the focus should be on the reputable scientists. Anyone who isn’t listening to the science is playing with fire. Businesses will work hard to set green goals, regardless of what administrations are doing or believe is or isn’t true. Businesses and progressive organizations will take climate change into their own hands. The World Bank and UN are creating a new platform called Invest for Climate. This is what came out of The Paris Agreement. The goal will be to create a place where countries can bring their greatest aspirations for low carbon development, and where investors can come in and get a better return from these projects. Financing is one of the key issues to execute the goals, and this platform will turn this obstacle into an opportunity.

We need to continue to invest in the United Nations, as it is the largest de-risking system in the world. When a country has political instability, terrorism, poverty, it makes investment in that country too risky. The UN works to fix the infrastructure of countries, which in turn reduces their investment risks and drives economic growth.

PRIME MINISTER JUSTIN TRUDEAU

There are a lot of movements right now against trade and globalization, pushing countries towards unilateral policies. But we need to be doing the opposite. Trade needs to grow, that is the story of our world. Canada has finalized its most recent trade deal with the European Union, and will continue to put forth progressive agreements with other countries. We also need to expand our view of trade, its not just about tariffs and finance, but about opportunities to succeed in all lanes. We have included sections about gender equality in recent trade deals, and will continue to make that a priority. Trading and working with other countries is a good thing.

PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF GHANA

When we talk about global outcomes, if they are to succeed it means that they have to succeed in Africa. Africa sits on the greatest resources in the world, but also has some of the poorest people. We need to fix this and it needs to be a part of how we view our global goals. Ghana will be focusing on education of African children. Working towards a goal to provide all African children with access to good education by 2030; the impact will be enormous.

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

From Jack Ma to President Macron to Bill Gates, the unanimous view is that Artificial Intelligence will be a part of our reality, very soon. But we must not fear or think of it as a competitor, we need to use it to solve our problems. “For the past 30 years we have made people like machine, now for the next 30 years we have to make machines like people.” - Jack Ma.

When we fear A.I. we are forgetting the incredible impact tech has had on our world to date, and it will continue to do so. It has solved unsolvable diseases and found solutions to problems our planet has been stuck on for years. A.I. will become a problem for the countries that don’t adjust their infrastructures for it. Industries like manufacturing will become obsolete for the human workforce, things won’t say made in China they will say made in the internet. Our entire education system across the globe needs to shift to focus on training people in fields that human skills will be valued. But the leaders are confident in A.I., and believe the problems will be nominal, and the benefits far outweigh the risks. We need to stop thinking about A.I. in terms of robots, but instead a shift in the state of technology and the philosophy of how we use it. We have to always remember to design our future for tomorrow, not for yesterday.

CLOSING REMARKS

Overall, every leader had an extremely optimistic view of the world. From North Korea to natural disasters, these leaders are aware of the state of the world, but believe in very optimistic outcomes. They are working on the problems we fear and discuss everyday. Our future is in good hands.

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Am I Investor Ready? A Ten Step Check List

1. Do I have a clear and concise business model that I can articulate to someone regardless if they have worked in my industry or not?

2. Can I easily explain my competitive advantage? (Why my product/service creates more value than existing competitors)

3. Do I have data that shows there is a demand for my product/service? (i.e., market testing, downloads, early sales)

4. Do I have a defined revenue channel? 

5. Can I give investors an estimated time of when they can expect to make money?

6. Have I demonstrated enough "skin in the game?" (i.e., invested money, time, built prototypes)

7. Have I utilized all available financial resources? (i.e., savings, government grants, start-up grants, applied for accelerator programs)

8. Do I have a clear "ASK?" (i.e., $10,000 in exchange for 5% equity)

9. Can I explain what exactly the investment will be used for? (i.e., $5000 for phase 2 prototype,  $10,000 for market launch)

10. Do I have a strong pitch deck containing all of the above information?

 

Goal Setting Template

Define your destination: (on a high level, what is it that you are building/ trying to become)

 

If everything goes as planned, where will you/your business be in five years?

 

List 5 specific, measurable long-term goals that, if accomplished, mean you are on track with your five year plan: (i.e.,get my clothing line sold at Barneys, reach top ten position in app store, work with a specific client, receive a specific award/recognition, host a tv show)

1)

2)

3)

4)

5)

What short-term goals must first be achieved in order to get you/ your business in line with your destination? (i.e., obtain funding, gain more experience, grow client base, build portfolio, reach X amount of Instagram followers, quit my job, take a course, grow sales online/ in-store)

1)

2)

3)

4)

5)

What tasks are absolute priority in order to get things moving? What do you need to get started on first? (i.e., build a website, reach out to a contact, make sketches, practice, make a pitch deck, conduct market research)

1)

2)

3)

List three mentors/contacts that you can connect with to get advice/ feedback on your path:

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2)

3)

When should you reach out to each? (i.e., immediately, once my website is done, after I update my resume)

1)

2)

3)

In the next six months what do you hope to have achieved?

 

In the next 12 months what do you hope to have achieved?

 

What skills do you need to work on or changes do you need to make in order to stay focused on your path? (i.e., time management, consistency, find a work space, disconnecting from negative energy)

 

What excites you the most about your path? Why are you inspired to do this?

 

Congrats on building out your yearly objectives, and aligning yours path with your short-term goals and long-term destination. From this point forward make the commitment to your plan, your journey, and to yourself. You know what inspires you about your path and what you are building, get excited about that! Self-doubt is natural, but don’t let it get in the way of completing what you have set out to do. On the days where you feel anxious about whats next review your objectives and goals and make it a priority to stay focused. You always feel better when you keep moving. Nothing in life is ever worth waking up and not being the person that you wanted to be, so commit to yourself! 

Don’t be shy to reach out, I am only an email or Skype call away!

Yours truly,

Sinead