As a business owner, it’s important to focus on your brand identity, so that people know who you are, what you do, and the value you bring. So for this month, all of March, we’re going to be focusing on branding an identity and how you really position yourself as a business owner.
About a year ago, maybe even two years ago, when I first started my business, I had someone approach me about writing some custom content. We were talking about presence and branding and identity, and the young lady who I was speaking to said, “You know I feel like branding is so cheesy. To be constantly talking about yourself just makes you seem really self-centered and egotistical. How do I position and create a brand when I don’t want to come off this way?”
What is Brand Identity really about?
One of the biggest take-aways from that conversation is that your brand identity is more about what people say about you after you leave the room. I actually wrote a LinkedIn post about it and did a video about it, but the biggest thing that came away from that conversation is that branding, who you are – it’s not what you actually say, it’s what people perceive. It’s all about the impression that you leave behind, and what we’re trying to do with branding, as individuals, but also as brands, as business owners, is to have more influence on what that perception is.
So, if you’re curious what your brand is, or if you’re a person who says, “Oh, I don’t have a brand.” I guarantee you, you absolutely do have a brand, but the conversation is really about whether or not you are influencing what that brand is. Are you influencing the perception that people have of you after you leave the room? And of course you’re influencing it, but are you influencing your brand in a positive way?
You absolutely do have a brand.
But are you influencing the perception that people have of your brand?
So, I wanted to pose a branding challenge, and this is a great exercise whether you’re trying to get yourself together on your LinkedIn profile, or you’re a branding business owner and trying to figure out how to position yourself and your voice on your website. No matter where you are on the spectrum, in terms of thinking about identity and branding, this is a really fun challenge that I encourage you to take on. The challenge is this: distill your brand using only friends and family members’ perception of you.
I have a Brand Identity Challenge for you!
I’m posing this challenge because I, myself, had to undertake a similar challenge recently trying to distill the essence of myself from others. I was asking people, “what are the qualities that I bring into the room? What’s your perception of me?”
The best thing that you’re going to get right away is people are going to say amazing things about you. But two, depending on who you ask, you might get some interesting takes on it. So one, it immediately shows you how many facets of yourself that you expose at any given point in time, but two, what a great feel-good for people to tell you how they feel about you in a really positive and motivating way.
Here’s how you take on the Challenge:
I challenge you to write down 15 names.
Step 1. Write down five names of people who are close to you who’ve known you for at least a year personally.
Step 2. Make a list of five people who you’ve worked with, either in a direct report relationship or as teammates. So think about people you’ve worked with who you’ve managed in the past, people who have mentored you, bosses you’ve had, colleagues who you’ve worked with. Five of those.
Step 3. And then list five people who have known you for less than a year. People you’ve just met. Maybe a casual acquaintance.
Step 4. For each of these 15 people, you’re going to ask the same question. You’re going to call them up and ask them, “how would you describe me to a potential client?” And if you’re not a business owner and just thinking about it, then “how would you describe me or my products and services to a good friend?”
Step 5. As you ask these 15 people this question, I challenge you to write down as much as you can and then start to mold it and distill it to see what you get.
Now this is a fun exercise because I use a very similar question when I get feedback from current clients. “How would you describe the experience to a friend?” And you get these amazing responses from people and really these creative, beautiful descriptions of their experience because it’s positioned from their point of view and you start to see things from someone else’s eyes. You start to see yourself from someone else’s eyes.
Download this FREE Brand Identity Exercise
I created this freebie as a quick Brand-identity-challenge.png (3 downloads) so you can start thinking it through. Leverage some of the feedback you get around this. But, what I need you to understand is that all of those things that people say about you, that’s your brand. You can decide if you like it, if you don’t like it, if it resonates with you, or if it doesn’t. But if it doesn’t resonate, if you don’t find truth and power in the feedback that you’re getting from others about their impression and a feeling of you after you leave the room, then what are you going to do about it? Because of course our brand isn’t what we say and do, but what we say and do impacts that brand perception.
So I challenge you. If you want to show up as this amazing, caring, empowering person, then what would that person do? How would they behave? What would they say and how would they say it? That’s the next step in terms of thinking about brand identity. But first, let’s take this brand challenge. Write down your 15 people and start compiling what is your brand today.
I can’t wait to see what you come up with. Definitely hit me up in the comments and let me know what you got.