Blog ~ From The Inside Out

Why I think we have personal branding all wrong

Most of the conversations about personal branding today teach us to look at ourselves from an outside perspective looking in. By that I mean that women are being told to create their images and brands in response to society’s ideas of what we should be. The outcome of that is a personal branding movement that is teaching women to mold themselves in a way that meets society’s expectations of who they should be. To me, that is not personal branding.

Personal branding is an intentional exercise in which we look inward first to get a clear understanding of who we are, what we want to achieve, and why we want to achieve it. Nothing else matters unless we are clear on those things first. Once that work has taken place, we can use branding techniques such as our image, communications skills, behavior, and digital media, to share who we are with the world.

Personal branding should happen from the inside out. I believe that we are doing ourselves a disservice when we allow our own brands to be directed by our external environments.

My goal in creating this blog, is to share with other ambitious women my best advice for creating an authentic personal brand that is aligned with who you really are and your goals for the future.

This blog is not for everyone. But if you are still trying to figure it all out, I hope you will follow along with me as I share my own experiences, how I got where I am today, and my best advice for you as you create your own personal story of success.

Personal branding is good business

Talent branding.

Sales enablement.

Customer experience.

Employee engagement.

Brand ambassadors.

Professional development.

Employer branding.

Brand experience.

There are many ways to talk about the same business challenge we all face in today’s connected world. This collective challenge is how to maintain control of your organization’s brand and your marketing message when you are relying on a countless number of stakeholders to deliver the message for you.

Organizations are often siloed, frequently with conflicting priorities. Oftentimes, a brand or marketing team owns the central marketing message, while a corporate communications team owns the message to employees, sales teams own the message to customers, and human resources owns the message to prospective talent. Does this sound familiar?

When companies are structured in this way, it often makes it challenging to instill ownership and a sense of responsibility for the brand across so many groups.

Here is a situation that I have seen many times.

A new product is launching within a company. The brand or product management team is responsible for the launch, which includes educating internal and external audiences about the new product. Because the product team doesn’t own the various channels they need to use to communicate their message, they collaborate with the key groups that own those channels. Typically, this is a mix of sales teams, corporate communications teams, HR groups, distributors, and public relations teams. These groups typically put together a launch plan and get to work on distributing the workload across the various teams, usually with the bulk of the burden being carried by the product team.

The big day arrives, and the launch plan is executed smoothly – employees are rallied, the media is engaged, sales teams receive new messaging, everyone gets some new branded swag – and launch day is soon just another checked box on everyone’s to do list.

If you have experienced this situation, as I have, you might be thinking…what’s wrong with that?

What I have learned through my experience is that there is a gap between these traditional programs and employee’s own individual interests. Why is this important? Because every one of your employees has a personal brand – and their individual brands matter to your business success.

Not only that, your employee’s understanding of your corporate brand, your mission, the products or services you offer, and your organizational culture all matter to your business success. This becomes an issue when you are trusting that your launch program was effective and that all your employees now fully understand the product message, what is expected of them, and how to execute on your organizational goals.

What is missing from these programs is a focused effort to educate and empower employees at an individual level. Every one of your employees has the power to build your brand or destroy it. This is because how your employees manage their own brands – their communication and people skills, their image, their social media profiles – matters to your business.

For organizations that spend millions of dollars a year on marketing and advertising, employees are a brand asset, as well as a reputational risk, that should not be overlooked. This is because your employees must understand your marketing message; accept your culture; care about your mission; feel prepared to deliver your message; and, feel incentivized to deliver on your brand promise to customers. And they need to feel motivated to do all of this for you while also doing the difficult work of identifying their own professional goals, remaining focused on their individual performance, and  ensuring that they are investing their time and energy at an organization that is best aligned with their needs and lifestyle.

When I talk about empowering employees at the individual level, I am talking about not only educating employees on your organizational brand, mission, and values; but taking the time to help employees understand the power of their personal brands. When you help employees identify their own mission, vision and values, and coach them through the process of aligning their values and goals with your organization’s, you help them connect the dots between organizational value and their own. This helps them understand how they can contribute value at the individual level in a way that is meaningful to them.

It’s common these days to see organizations trying to answer the big question for employees – “what’s in it for me?”  Why not take some time to help your employees understand the value they offer and why that matters to your organization’s success?

If you have responsibility for financial performance or other business metrics at your organization, I hope you’re thinking about this issue. Personal branding is a valuable professional development tool for individuals at all levels of their careers. But it is also a valuable brand management tool that can help organizations engage their employees, empower their sales teams, educate the marketplace and mitigate risk.

Personal branding is not just a concern for your employees. Making sure that your employees effectively manage their brands is just good business practice. When you think about your business in this way, you must take the time to ensure that every one of your employees understands your vision, your mission, and your brand values.

If you’re interested in managing your brand with the help of your employees, here are a few steps to get you started:

  1. Evaluate the current situation within your organization and identify any potential gaps that should be addressed.
  2. Take the time to engage the different groups who have ownership of the brand to discuss the value of personal branding at the employee level.
  3. Create a personal branding marketing strategy for employees. Identify opportunities to coach them on developing their own personal brands. Create educational elements to ensure that they understand and have embraced your brand at the organizational and product levels.
  4. Provide training programs that allow front line employees to practice your marketing message, as well as their own. Be sure to offer useful feedback to help them improve their delivery.
  5. Create metrics to help you demonstrate the value of these programs to your various constituents.
  6. Track your organization’s progress. Survey clients and prospects where possible.  Build evaluation criteria into your employee assessments that motivate employees to effectively represent your brand.
  7. Be sure to properly incentivize and reward your employees.
  8. Share what you learn with others. Help more people understand how to effectively create personal branding strategies for their employees in their own organizations.

Click here to learn more about my workshop and training programs or contact me for a complimentary call.

Hiring a Personal Brand Coach

Today’s post is all about what it’s like to work with me.

Think of me as your personal brand manager. I guide you through the work to clearly define your goals, help you to uncover your greatest strengths, and work with you to create a clear brand that aligns your image and behavior with your goals and talents. Then we get to work on communicating who you are (your brand) to the world.

As your image stylist…

I work with you to curate a memorable brand that showcases who you really are. I create look books for you and help you build a wardrobe that has you feeling strong and confident. We will talk through any beauty challenges you’re dealing with and put together a plan to address any negative body related issues you might be struggling with. I’m on call for quick check-ins and decision making which means that when you work with me, I will help you keep your image aligned with your brand; so that you can stay focused on achieving your goals.

As your personal communications manager…

I work with you to create your personal brand story. This is your personal narrative that clearly tells the world who you are, what you stand for, and what you’ve dedicated your time to achieving. I help you craft your story, and then coach you on the best way to deliver your message with impact. Based on your personal goals, I work with you to create a communications plan to make sure that you are sharing your story in the right way with the right audience. I help you overcome any communications challenges you might be struggling with so that you are prepared for those big moments of opportunity when you encounter them. I’m available when you need to practice a few talking points or when you’re stuck on how to position yourself in a big meeting. Think of me as your own personal publicist working hard for you in the background so that you can shine like the star you already are.

Finally, think of me as your personal business manager…

After all, what is a brand if not a business? Once we have your brand plan in place, I’m available to you via text, video or email to help you overcome any roadblocks you encounter throughout your day. Unsure how to navigate a challenging professional environment? I’m available to talk you through it. When you’re feeling unsure which outfit to wear for a big job interview, I’m here for you. If you’re feeling nervous about a big presentation and need to chat through some talking points or want a quick pep talk, I’m here for you. When you hire me as your personal brand manager – I give you my full support and attention – I am your personal stylist, your business manager and your publicist. I don’t just teach you the tools to help you succeed, I work hard along side you to help you achieve your most challenging goals.

When you choose to make an investment in my services, I’m also investing in you. I love hearing from my readers. If you’re curious about how I could help you achieve your goals, contact me for a complimentary call.

Why I Talk About Empowering Women

When I tell people about Brand Intentions, I often get the same question: why are you offering services designed for women? I am not choosing to work with women at the exclusion of men – I do not discriminate in my desire to help people become the best versions of themselves – and I do in fact work with male clients. But I choose to speak directly to women because I believe that women do not yet have an equal voice. My mission is to give women the tools they need to build their confidence and find their voice – because a confident woman is a powerful woman.

Personal branding is more than trendy marketing speak. When we are clear about what defines us and what drives us as individuals, we create power for ourselves. I know firsthand that this is especially important for women in business.

Women face unique challenges in their lives that often lead to limiting beliefs and behaviors. We struggle with body image issues, with the belief that we must do it all to “have it all,” we struggle with impostor syndrome, with feeling less than, with failing to see that someone else’s highlight real is not real life. And this list is only some of the things we impose on ourselves.

It is my mission to help change the message we tell each other by first rewriting the message we tell ourselves. So often I see women block each other, or worse, tear each other down. I believe that we do this to each other because we have been conditioned to behave that way. We are taught to believe that there is only one path to success, and we must mold ourselves to fit on that path while leaving others behind. But there is no one real path to success, and there is room for everyone.

When we, as women, truly feel more powerful as individuals, we can rewrite the collective message about what it means to succeed as women in business; and in life.