‘Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room’

I read this quote somewhere recently and was blown away by the truth of it. Brands – particularly BIG brands (I’m talking Apple, Google, Coca-Cola) – are awe-inspiring in their ability to stay in our consciousness and dominate our conversations. Love or hate these brands – most of us are aware of them and most of us have opinions on them. They are undoubtedly and breathtakingly POWERFUL.

But what of the ‘ordinary woman’ who wants to make a brand of herself? Who knows that she has something wonderful, authentic and unique to offer the world? Who is perhaps tired of working in a thankless job or industry and wants to promote and sell the services of… herself? Of women like you and me, who are willing to be a little bit brave and put themselves out there, with their ideas, in the hope of one day being successful?

Well, here is the thing. I believe we ALL have a unique talent which could be of benefit to the world. The tricky (or hopefully not so tricky) part is:

· Identifying that talent, then

· Identifying how to build your own powerful personal BRAND around that talent

In this age of social media and sharing, of getting a glimpse into the personal lives of the people we follow and worship and eventually purchase from, there has definitely been a shift in how we perceive ‘brands’. People now don’t just want to be ‘sold’ to. They want to BE just like the person they are buying from – they want what they’ve got. ‘I’ll have what she’s having’. Think Khloe Kardashian selling jeans, or Victoria Beckham selling perfume.

Yet you don’t need to be a celebrity to have your own powerful personal brand. You need to work out who you are and what your talent is. And then, you need to work at selling yourself, and your talent, to your audience. If people fall head over heels in love with you, they are more likely to fall head over heels for your business. It really is all about YOU.

Here are some things to think about if you would like to build a powerful personal brand for yourself:

You need to identify exactly where your passion and talent lies

Of course, we’re not all talented in EVERYTHING that we’re passionate about – that would be ridiculous! But if you’re reading this article, chances are you already have an idea of what it is that you are TRULY passionate about and hence could potentially brand yourself as a leader or expert in. Writing, mentoring, coaching, selling cosmetics, décor design, cooking – if you are good at it, have some experience in it, understand how it works and most importantly are passionate about it, then you’re well on your way to creating your brand.

Think – what is your message? What is important to you? How can you communicate this to your people?

You need to identify your target audience

You could try to market yourself to everybody – but you will probably have more success if you don’t. There is an audience out there for you – your IDEAL customers. Think about who and where these people are:

· Are they male or female?

· What age are they?

· What is their background?

· Why do they need what you are selling? How can you make their lives easier or happier?

There is a good chance that the people in your ideal audience will be currently struggling or dealing with an issue that you have managed to overcome. In this instance, your job will be to show your audience how they can get to where you are now at, using the tools (products) that you can provide them with. To do this, you really need to hone in on the emotions these people may currently be experiencing.

For example, I am in the business of helping women who are struggling with change and challenge in their lives. As a divorced single mother currently navigating a new relationship, I’m relatable to women who are struggling to cope with divorce, women who are finding their feet as single mothers, and women who have been scarred by relationships. These women are my audience.

I hope to provide value to my audience’s lives by giving them hope that they can overcome the challenges they are currently facing – because I have, and I am just like them. I have been where they’re currently at, I’ve felt what they’re now feeling, I’ve lived through their struggles… and I’ve come out the other side. This is my brand. Me!

Of course, I’ve had to work hard to develop my brand, and I’m still working on it. Yet before I started my business I figured out the most important bit – how I can solve a problem that my audience is currently having, and how to speak their language.

You need to think about how you will develop and convey your brand to your audience

This point basically follows on from and wraps up the previous points… with a few extra steps. Once you know what you want to provide – or sell – and who your audience is, you need to work out exactly how you are going to do it.

Will you set up a website and social media accounts for your new business? Hint – your answer here should be yes! As part of this process, you will need to think about how your brand – you – will be presented online, and on paper. Think about your visual brand – what sort of feel would best represent you and what you are trying to convey? Think about logos, colours and design.

The most important thing here is that the overall look and feel should be consistent and reflect who you are. Having a look and feel that is ‘you’ will help you in showing up authentically to serve your audience. It took me a few goes but I now have my website and social pages as I want them – in a format that feels right for me.

A lot of people (myself included) worry about being perceived as pushy or sales-y. The solution to this? Ensure that you are providing value – always – to your audience. Adjust your thinking of yourself to that of a woman who is providing a valuable service to her people. You are in the business of making their lives easier and/or more enjoyable. This is your goal, always.

Lastly, bearing in mind that the best personal brands are just that – personal, work out how much of yourself and your life you are willing to share. Even if you are a private person (as I am), you should be able to find a way to share your personality – you – in your business. Strive always to make a personal connection with your audience. This is what will make them want to continue to follow you – and eventually buy from you – not an impersonal sales pitch! Good luck!

Shona Dee
Shona Dee is a divorced mother and writer from Australia - after surviving the pain of the sudden breakdown of her marriage, her passion now lies in supporting and empowering women to not only survive but THRIVE through change and upheaval – whatever the cause of that change and upheaval - through the organisation ThrivingSistas.com. She is very excited to both share her wisdom and learn from other female entrepreneurs and feels that Future Females is the perfect space in which to do this. In her spare time, Shona enjoys reading, writing and reconnecting with her soul by taking long walks in nature.