Have you ever heard someone mention “personal brand” or “brand identity”? Do you know what these phrases mean, or how they can affect your business?
Managing your brand online is completely different than managing your brand offline. Your brand identity plays a key role in how people perceive your company online. In this article, we’ll talk about how you can manage your personal brand as well as how you can utilize personal branding to increase your presence online.
Personal branding is associated more with an entity than a company. If you are an entrepreneur or run your own business—a massage service or handyman service, for example—you know that your name is on the line when people talk about your business. Personal branding, then should be a way for you to display your talents and hook customers with the quality of the services you offer. Let’s think of it this way: When someone googles your name, what do you want to see? Positive reviews? Happy customers? People sharing your services on social media because they want to recommend you to their friends and family? Of course you do! And this is what personal branding is all about.
However, managing your personal brand is not always easy, especially in online spaces, where you have little control over what other people say about you. It’s also difficult to control what employees say about you. In fact, this has become such an issue for small business owners that it is not uncommon to hear stories about business owners firing employees for the things they post online.
So what can you do about this? It’s important to speak with any employees you have about your rules and expectations for online conversations. It’s also necessary for you to set a good example: Do not engage in this type of behavior yourself, or it will backfire on you. Not only will you set a poor example for your employees, you’ll also find that nothing on the internet ever goes away. People will be able to dig up this information long after you thought it had disappeared. Always try to control the conversation about your company as much as you can. You might have limited control over what others say, but you have complete control over your own words. Remember that, keep an eye on the conversation, and your personal brand will be a lot better off!
Another term we mentioned was “brand identity.” This probably sounds similar to “personal branding.” So what is the difference between the two terms?
Well, brand identity is not associated with a person as much as it is a concept—your business. It is a variety of concepts all rolled into one package.
For example, let’s take a look at a brand familiar around the world: Coca-Cola. When you think of Coca-Cola, what comes to mind? Red and white? Flowing font? Christmas? Friendship? These are all things that Coca-Cola has built into their brand identity over many, many years. It is done intentionally. Your brand should follow suit. Although you’re likely not working with the budget that Coca-Cola has, and you’re probably just trying to appeal to customers in your local area, drawing marketing ideas from successful companies is a great learning experience.
Let’s think of it this way: Your presence on the internet as well as in your local community is important. When people think of your brand, you want them to think of specific imagery and ideas. If you’re a professional dog walker, you want your customers to think of you as a person who loves and understands animals; as someone who values spending time with furry friends. If you’re a tree service, you want people to know that you have the experience and equipment necessary to tackle dangerous trees. You want your customers to know that they don’t have to worry about a thing when it comes to stump grinding or yard fertilization. These are things you’ll want to build into your brand identity and marketing campaigns.
How to Manage Your Brand Online
So now that you understand a bit about personal branding and brand identity, how do you manage your brand online? There’s no one guide that will work for everyone. Every company has their own “voice” (or way of speaking to their customers), and every company has a different marketing budget. Some companies require more aggressive ad campaigns than others do. It all takes practice—trial and error—and some learning before you will get the feel of what works for you. However, we do have a few tips for you to keep in mind as you begin to manage your brand online:
Managing brand conversations:
Do I want to use social media?
If so, am I suited to manage it myself?
If I don’t have the time or desire to manage it myself, am I willing to hire someone to assist me?
Do I understand what will happen if I post something incendiary or negative online? What will I do if an employee posts something like this? Am I willing to deal with the consequences, and if so, do I have a plan to mitigate any damage caused?
Do I know how to monitor the internet for conversations about my company?
Do I have a plan to respond to negative—but not necessarily hurtful—reviews?
Do I know how to defend my brand and employees without resorting to insults?
Managing your business locally
Do I treat my employees with kindness and respect?
Do I provide my employees with the proper training to handle difficult customers?
How is my company perceived when it comes to customer service? Can we improve?
How does my building, vehicle, or other local advertising look? Do I project an image that I want people to associate with my business?
Managing your business online
How does my website look? Is it professional?
If not, do I have the budget to redesign it?
Can my customers easily find my contact information so that they can get a hold of me in a way they’d prefer? (Email, phone number, address, social media.)
Are my social media accounts being updated regularly? Are they easily recognizable as “my” accounts? (That is, do they have the same color scheme, company logo, company name?)
Am I using my website to reach my customers, or am I using it for more personal reasons?
Ask yourself: If I were a customer, would I want to stay on this website? What would make me want to contact this company?
Hopefully this helps you make the right decisions for your company. Brand identity and personal branding are vital to today’s businesses, even if you consider yourself a local “mom-and-pop” store. Presenting yourself in a professional and friendly way is the best way to get your message across to your online customers. At the core of all of this is your ability to interact with customers in an online space. As you can probably tell, it is not the same as interacting face-to-face or over the phone. But with some practice, you’ll be able to learn how to manage your brand in the way that’s right for you.
If you need assistance with marketing, or if you’d like to talk with us about websites, social media, or blogging, contact us! Zoek would love to be your personal marketing experts. We are a top digital marketing agency serving businesses across the United States and Canada. Try a free demo of our services or get in touch today!