If you’ve followed The Successful Solopreneur column for any length of time, you know I love a good business book. Who needs crime or romance when you can read about how to grow your business or learn effective ways to differentiate yourself from others in the market? I’d rather take the latter any day.
Well, one of my latest reads is Personal Brand Clarity: Identify, Define, & Align to What You Want to Be Known For. Written by brand clarity expert Suzanne Tulien, this book taught me that my brand wasn’t nearly as clear as I thought. It also helped me identify specifically what my brand is, as well as how to portray it more consistently (thus, more effectively) to my target market.
If you want to do the same, I highly recommend Personal Brand Clarity. In the meantime, I asked Suzanne to answer a couple of questions about branding and solopreneurship. Here’s what she had to say.
Q: What is the most common mistake that you see solopreneurs make when it comes to their brand?
Suzanne: “There are lots of them, but I think the one I cringe most at when I see it happening is when they try to appeal to everyone. When you try to appeal to everyone, you literally are not appealing to ANYONE. Getting clear on your personal brand value position is the most powerful tool you can have to begin to specify your distinction in not only your brand but who your brand would best appeal to. Finding your perfect clients is a result/benefit of doing the brand clarity work to identify, define, and align to what you want to be known for as the ‘go-to’ expert in your field.
Secondly, I find that a lack of consistency in your brand, its delivery, customer service, and narrative (marketing messaging) is causing a lot of missed opportunities with small businesses and the solopreneur. When we are inconsistent, we lose the trust of our markets. And there are plenty of other vendors your prospects and clients can go to instead of you. Consistency is one of the three most powerful attributes of a successful personal brand. It builds trust, history, and tradition in the minds of our markets.
And thirdly, the misconception that marketing is branding. These are actually two very different functions. You see, you MARKET a BRAND. And if you have not yet fully defined your brand, my question becomes: ‘What are you actually marketing?’ So many business owners don’t take the time to identify, define, and align to their brand value position – which makes it impossible to be consistent to it, and very easy to lose your sense of purpose, distinction, and direction. In other words, when you are not clear on your brand, then you default into ‘chasing’ the clients versus attracting them with real on-brand substance.”
Is there a difference between your personal brand and professional brand as a solopreneur?
Suzanne: “Your brand is your brand is your brand. When you clarify your personal brand right, you get to the core of who you are in every aspect of your life. The beauty of clarifying your brand is that you don’t have to have a different brand for every area of your life. You get to reveal the fundamental characteristics of who you are as you (authentically), and then consciously, strategically, and deliberately infuse them into your world.
The more ‘YOU’ you are in every area of your life, the less stress you have and the more alignment towards manifesting what you want in life. So the answer is no, there should be NO difference between your professional and personal brand. You may be DOING different things, but WHO YOU ARE BEING remains consistent.
Your brand is just a set of perceptions; it is NOT YOUR LOGO or website or marketing materials. These perceptions can be identified and defined by you so that you can create a construct on how you want to be perceived. Then you must ALIGN your actions and behaviors to those perceptions—consistently, authentically, and distinctively—to begin to build trust in your promise to deliver a specific value.
Your logo and visual brand is only a graphic representation of your brand. So, the question becomes, ‘What is your logo actually representing?’ Answering this question is the essence of true brand development.”
How can having brand clarity make you a better solopreneur?
Suzanne: “Having brand clarity won’t necessarily make you a better solopreneur. What it will do is help you discern differently in how you build your business, choose the clients you want to work with, and make business decisions that enable you to stay in alignment with how you want to be authentically perceived. As a result, your business will flourish.
Sometimes, it will even help you decide that being a solopreneur is not aligned with who you are! And that is a powerful thing to know and own so that you can begin doing those things in life you are aligned to.”
What is one thing solopreneurs can do today to begin to strengthen their brand?
Suzanne: “Stop marketing, for now, and commit to take the time to do the clarifying work on yourself; to really uncover the essence of your unique personal brand value position. The process starts with identifying and defining your core values, then selecting your style attributes, then realizing all those little things that make YOU different.
After that, we move on to crafting your personal brand standards of living, a mantra, and a ‘why’ statement that culminates the essence of your brand into a powerful declaration. Once your brand is identified and defined, you must begin to align to it in every way. That is the secret sauce to building the confidence and trust within your market.”
One final note…
What I found incredibly helpful with Suzanne’s book is all of the exercises she asks you to do. I really didn’t think I’d learn a lot about myself because I’m fairly intuitive. But I now see my brand with greater clarity, simply by gaining a better understanding of my personal brand values, which are honesty, trust, and open-mindedness. It was also an eye-opener to hone in on my brand style, which involves being self-sufficient, simple, and empathetic.
This concept of brand development seems so simple, yet I learned a lot by following the process that Suzanne provides in Personal Brand Clarity. She also offers a course designed specifically for solopreneurs, so if you are not already crystal clear on your brand, you may want to check it out!
I’d like to end by thanking Suzanne for answering my questions and teaching me that I didn’t know myself as well as I thought. I’m a sucker for continuing education and her book delivered, providing me with the knowledge I didn’t even realize I lacked.