In a 2010 episode of the UK Apprentice, 21-year-old Entrepreneur, Stuart Baggs was ridiculed by British executive, Claude Littner, for calling himself a brand.
“You’re a 21 one-year-old kid. You’re not a brand.”
I am here today, to tell you that Claude Littner was wrong. You are a brand.
Not in a literal sense, of course. There is no “Jon Hawkins Brand.” Rather, every brand you’re associated with is impacted by your behavior. In this sense, your brands, or the image of any businesses or project you own, are controlled by more than just typical and conventional business characteristics – they are controlled by you.
Let’s run through an example.
Only yesterday, I was reading about how Kyle Walker has been publically ousted for throwing a Sex Party, only days after undergoing a Social Media campaign encouraging people to stay at home during COVID-19.
The whole thing was a PR nightmare for his Club, Manchester City FC — and he was a fined £250,000 as a consequence.
Because he represents the club. Their brand is impacted by his actions through association. He needs to reflect on their ethos and values. And by failing to do so, he has associated a sour taste with the Manchester City brand.
As the club stated to BBC Sport —
“Footballers are global role models, and our staff and players have been working to support the incredible efforts of the NHS. Kyle’s actions in this matter have directly contravened these efforts.”
Now it clear the image of your projects is impacted by your day to day actions, these need to align with your business etiquette. Let’s talk through a variety of ways you can achieve this.
A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.
– Jeff Bezos.
According to Forbes, Personal Branding is more important than ever.
When you Google yourself, what pops up? The way you publicly present yourself will shape the first impressions people have of you.
Whether you’re an entrepreneur or an employee, this first impression matters. According to a 2018 CareerBuilder survey, 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process, and 43% of employers use social media to check on current employees.
Not only that, if you’re a freelancer, but this first impression could also mean the difference between a potential client picking you, over a competitor.
So, what should your personal brand be?
Imagine I’m your boss. I don’t care what you do behind closed doors. So long as I don’t hear about it, you can do as you please.
But as soon as you’re out in public — I care.
Like in Walker’s case: any misbehavior, negatively impacts our Business image. As a part of my business, we’re a collective — how you’re perceived, we all are.
The same applies to your own projects. When you’re out in public, you and your business are a collective: how you’re perceived, your business is. Put bluntly, if you’re hated by the community, then so will your projects. And this will impact it’ success.
So when you’re in public, you need to act in accordance with the ethos and values of your brand.
As a rule of thumb, this is easily achieved by having a friendly, professional etiquette in a Business setting. And when in a non-professional environment: just be yourself, be polite — basically, imagine how you would expect your competitor's employees of the same level to behave, and act the same.
Let’s now discuss the best ways you can do this.
“Your Personal Brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room — remember that.”– Chris Ducker
It’s More Than Just Business Acumen.
The world of Business is changing. The number of Freelancers is on the rise, and there isn’t enough work to go around. In the UK alone, 4.8 million people are self-employed.
And from my experience, there are hundreds of businesses all doing the same thing. It’s no longer quality, capital, or engagements that dictate your success. The key to success is contacts.
To be cliche, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. So you need to work on networking.
And the funniest thing of all? You never know who you are going to meet in your day to day life who could make the difference between your success and failure.
That’s pretty evident from the fact big entrepreneurs, like Richard Branson, wander round in Jeans and a t-shirt — while interns and Junior team members, waltz around in suits.
The takeaway from all this?
It’s simple. Whether you’re at a Business conference, or just out for a light-hearted meal with your family. Your behavior shouldn’t change.
You should treat anyone you meet like a potential client or business partner. Be friendly and respectful. Avoid confrontation, being rude, or insulting someone while your in public — because if you don’t, you might go and insult the next Richard Branson.
Most importantly, use Sales tactics:
Surround yourself in environments with people in the same interest, ethos, or field as you. Get to know every and any person you meet, show a genuine interest in them and befriend them. And who knows, maybe this will work in your favor in the long run.
Your Online Image.
As I stated earlier, your SEO, and what you’re associated with on Google matters.
But your online image goes much deeper than that. In the online world, there’s nowhere to hide.
People think if their tweeting on a personal account, rather than a business account — that it doesn’t matter, and that they can post what they like.
Neil Patel has completely debunked this myth.
In fact, when a potential client is considering whether to utilize the services of a faceless business — they will do their research. They will find out who the face is behind that brand, and they will find your personal accounts.
And you know what? If your own posts don’t align with the ethos of your business, then chances are they will be skeptical about your services.
The client-freelancer relationship is entirely built on trust. And if you break that trust: by posting offensive comments on your personal accounts, then they will cut ties.
So quickly delete that incriminating YouTube video you posted in 2010, or put your personal Twitter account on private. It’s really that easy.
Your Personal Brand is a promise to your clients… a promise of quality, consistency, competency, and reliability.
– Jason Hartman.
The business world has changed. The image of your business goes far beyond what it publically presents. Instead, it’s in everything you do.
Utilize this to your advantage by:
- Utilize Personal Branding: To maintain a good image, your public self needs to align with the ethos of your business projects.
- Recognize the key to success is more than just Business Acumen — instead, the key is contacts. Continue to remain professional, no matter who you meet; because you never know if you’re talking to the next Richard Branson.
- Readjust your online image: Given the client-freelance relationship is built on trust, you need to do everything in your power to avoid breaking it.
By doing so, the people you come into contact with will begin to associate positive experiences with your brand — and this marketing won’t cost you a dime.
In the words of Seth Godwin —
“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”