Having built the wine brand Barefoot, we learned a few things about branding consumer products. Get your product in front of the folks who will benefit from it. Be clear about what you are selling. Distinguish your product from the competition. Understand and work the distribution system. Deliver a consistent message. If you want to build a successful consumer product brand, you don’t have the time nor the luxury to deviate from this path.
We’ve become experts at branding in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) space. But what if you want to build a personal brand? Are there definitive rules like branding packaged goods?
Recently we had the opportunity to interview Ryan Foland, the up-and-coming expert in the personal branding space whose articles can be found in Fortune, Entrepreneur, Huffington Post, Influencive and more. His TED talks ranks on the top 10 list in Forbes. He is the communications expert at the University of California, Irvine, a sought-after media guest and the co-founder of InfluenceTree. He’s also a pretty cool guy.
Ryan practices what he preaches in his popular talk, The 7 Habits of Highly Brandable People, which drafts on the wildly popular “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” He gives folks tools they can use to build their own personal brands. Here are Ryan’s Top 7:
1. Focus on focusing.
Through social media, people are seeing what you do all the time. You are confirming what you’re all about through what you share, so focus on exactly what you want to be known for. The more time it takes you to explain what you’re up to, the less focused you are. You don’t need to be talented at everything. You need to be talented at your thimble. Then, build relationships with other people that know that you’re good at that thimble. Focusing on communicating your expertise helps people understand your expertise.
2. Say ‘yes’ to the right thing.
Get into the habit of saying yes to the kinds of opportunities that are on brand and make money. If you say yes to the wrong opportunities, you end up spreading yourself too thin and wasting lots of time and money. Don’t confuse people by “going off brand.”
3. Be real, not ideal.
Forget about being ideal and just be real. People see right through pretensions, and besides, perfection is intimidating. Authenticity is a big deal when you’re talking about your personal brand – it’s a personal brand, not a perfect brand. Be yourself and people will want to connect with you.
4. The 3 C’s
Create consistent content. Make it compelling for your target audience. The best way to find out what that content should be is to really know who they are. Who do you want to be in front of? What kind of information would help them? And what’s the best format for you to provide that material to them? Is it written, videoed, or recorded?
5. The five-second first impression.
Folks have a first impression of you when they first see your profile picture. It should be a professional headshot with a background that communicates your personal brand. You should be smiling, looking into the camera, and wearing clothes and sporting colors that help highlight your features. You can communicate exactly what you want people to know about you visually. Get a 3rd party to tell you what they think you do from your picture alone. Take control over that first impression made in the first five seconds.
6. DIY PR
Don’t wait to be discovered. Be your own media team. Get out there and apply for everything from TED talks, to press coverage, to media interviews. And when you get them, share them with everybody you know. Get in the habit of tooting your own horn in a way that is part of the tune that you play. This way people will know and recognize your tune. Your online footprint goes only as far as your reach, so don’t stand still. Get to as many people in your target audience as possible to share in your victories, large and small.
7. Stack successes
Build your success on a stack of small victories. The reality is that building a personal brand is not something that happens overnight. If you build on the small victories, it’s like a snowball effect. Ryan says that sequential steps stack success. When they ask, “What is your experience?” recount and be proud to share your little victories to garner bigger successes.
As successful commercial product brand builders ourselves, we recognize the value of Ryan’s recipe for success in the personal branding space. Try his 7 Habits of Highly Brandable Peopleand make yourself more brandable starting today. The best place to connect with Ryan is on Twitter, where he shares daily branding advice to his hundreds of thousands of followers.