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How to Define Your Personal Brand

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you are undoubtedly aware of how trendy the concept “personal branding” has become. And there are as many definitions of the term “as Carter’s has pills” (to borrow one of grandfather’s favorite expressions). So what exactly does it mean to have a personal brand? Simply put, personal branding is the story of you. Think of it as a journalistic dive into your own who, what, when, where and how. First, name the qualities that are distinct to you as an individual. That’s your who. Are you intellectually curious, uncompromising, articulate, flexible? How do…

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Brand Tip #10: Managing a Brand

Once you’ve explored the basics of identifying and developing a brand, then you're ready to start managing it. Managing a brand means (i) monitoring its reputation; (ii) analyzing the competition and opportunities for synergies; (iii) protecting the brand through trademark maintenance, an understandable policy and the pursuit of infringers; and (iv) crisis management. Focus groups and surveys are effective means to gauge the perceptions of your audience and measure it against your own view of your brand experience. These activities serve important functions in both brand development and, as the life cycle of the brand increases, in brand management. Given…

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Brand Tip #9: The Role of Alignment in Brand Development

Now that you’ve established the building blocks for communicating to your target customers who you are, what you do and how you do it, it’s time to understand how alignment affects brand development.  Alignment is the act of ensuring that your brand reflects your target’s needs, wants, feelings and desires. Think of it as the act of walking (or shopping!) a mile in their shoes. Indeed, you must put on your customer’s shoes to understand and anticipate what it is they want from you. The key to effective alignment is the recognition that ultimately it matters not what you think…

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Brand Tip #8: Creating a Memorable Brand

Once you’ve identified your goals, business strategy and uniqueness in the market and undertaken careful selection of your trademark or service mark, you’re ready to deepen the development of your brand platform and begin the process of engaging with your target audience by making yourself memorable. Becoming memorable, as you might imagine, is more than just selecting an enticing brand name. The culture, or aura, surrounding your brand is just as important. A brand aura is the cultivation of an experience. Done correctly, the cultivation of an experience can produce unbounded loyalty. Consider, for instance, the empowerment philosophy behind Nike®…

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Brand Tip #7: Finding and Using the Right Trademark

Whether your brand comprises a word(s), a design, a tagline or a combination of the foregoing, make it relevant and compelling yet as uncomplicated as you can to differentiate yourself in the marketplace.  Choosing an uncomplicated moniker is especially important considering the phenomenon of “cognitive fluency.” This principle reflects the tendency of the human brain to favor information that is easily processed over that which is complex, which ostensibly explains why shares of companies with easily pronounceable names trade better than their complex counterparts. In addition to simplicity, the strength of your mark (or even whether it is capable of…

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How to Build a Brand Tip #6: What is Positioning?

Positioning refers to a product or service’s place in the market or the strategy of giving a product or service its place in the market. Identifying the ways in which your brand’s benefit uniquely sets it apart from the competition is just one aspect of positioning. Indeed, consumer attachment is as much emotional as it is a rational purchasing decision; consumers buy from brands they like. There’s an adage in marketing that stories sell and facts tell. Therefore, even if your brand is loaded with features and distinguishable benefits, a brand story is an essential facet of a brand platform.…

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How to Build a Brand Tip #5: Understanding the Competition

How well do you understand your competition? In the first instance you’ll need to identify who your competitors really are, which most assuredly is not simply “everyone else.” Depending on the nature of your business, competitors may be defined by geography or the relatedness of the goods or services being offered. Market research is essential because identifying your competitors is important before you finalize your decision about which business categories and market segments to compete in. Once you determine who your competitors are, you need to assess their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, commonly referred to as a SWOT analysis.…

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How to Build a Brand Tip #4: Find Your Unique Selling Proposition

Your unique selling proposition, commonly referred to as the USP, encapsulates why someone should choose your product or service over any other. Think of a word or concept that you want to “own” in the mind of your client base. To do this, you must consider the purchasing criteria of your clients and decide where you rank highest in fulfilling those criteria. One way to determine what is significant to your market is to know which keywords your potential clients use on the internet to find people engaged in your business. Is your geographic location important to the decision-making process? What…

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How to Build a Brand Tip #3: The Difference Between a Vision and a Mission

Often thought of as a singular proposition, a vision and a mission are quite distinct. A vision statement usually expresses an organization’s values or goals in an idealistic way. On the other hand, a mission statement (akin to the  “About Us” section of a website) directly states a purpose of the organization that sets the tone and environment for employees and demonstrates for other stakeholders the scope of your desired activities. Despite their differences, both share a common purpose of setting direction and creating goal orientation. In establishing a mission or vision statement for your brand, avoid jargon such as “client-centered” and…

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How to Build a Brand Tip #2: Creating a Brand Strategy

Creating a brand asset begins with the formulation of a strategy designed to develop your brand. Whether you manage a global brand or one around the corner, strategic planning (as opposed to haphazard daily decision making) will provide you with the tools to communicate well and build commitment and collaboration among your staff, clients and others with an interest in your organization—collectively, your stakeholders. Those stakeholders include your outside consultants who have a hand in creating and delivering your brand messaging. Although it may sound intimidating, formulating a brand strategy involves the same consideration that you take to launch a…

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