What do you stand for? And how can you stand out?

Do you remember your school telling you that whilst you were wearing school uniform – regardless of where you were or what you were doing – you were representing the school?

It’s a bit like that with personal branding, only you don’t get to go home at the end of the day and take your uniform off.

When you run a small business, you are your brand. People will make decisions about whether to purchase your products or services based not only on your business’ reputation, but on yours.

People buy from people. It sounds superficial, but what people think about you really matters.

How do you want people to see you?

This is what personal branding is all about – it’s the way you present yourself to the world as the person who runs your business. It’s how you demonstrate that your own personal values, motivations and ethos reflect those of your business.

Personal branding is not about being straightjacketed into a one-size-fits-all corporate mould. The chances are, you set up your business to do something that you are passionate about, and which means something to you. What this is will be different for everyone, so your personal brand can and should be as unique as your business offering and personality.

This is where the photos that you share and the words that you use can make a big impact. Think for a moment of the profile pictures that you use on your social media profiles, and what they say about you. If your business tackles serious issues or requires your customers to trust you with sensitive information, you might want to think twice about using a lairy photo from a drunken night out (remember when those were possible?!) as your profile picture.

Even if your social media account is not connected to your business account, your customers are likely to do a bit of research about you as part of their decision making process – particularly in this strange time where face-to-face meetings are almost impossible – and if your personal brand doesn’t match your professional brand, you risk losing their trust before you have even interacted with them.

What do you want people to know about you?

The words that you use to describe yourself and your business are more powerful than you might think.

It’s not easy to sum up what you do and why you do it in one sentence – particularly if you are fulfilling a lifetime ambition or there are a multitude of circumstances that have brought you to where you are today. This is, however a really worthwhile exercise.

Our social media straplines have become the modern day ‘elevator pitch’. We need to get across as much as we can about our ethos and offering in a limited number of words. Take, for instance, your LinkedIn headline. This appears under your name on your profile and on every post you create or interact with. If you write too much here, your words will get cut off, so it is important to be succinct and get your message across at the very start.

Creating your mission statement

What is the single most important thing you want potential customers and contacts to know about you? It’s hard to pin down, isn’t it.

That’s where personal branding coaching can help – someone who can gently and objectively help you to discover the things that make you tick, and the words to use to showcase what you do and why you do it. In other words, your mission statement.

A coach is likely to ask you a lot of questions, but personal branding coaching isn’t an interrogation; it’s a way of drawing out the important things that you want others to know and see about you. It helps you to see the wood from the trees, providing clarity from the clutter of busy lives and even busier minds. It helps you to position yourself as the ‘go-to’ person for the products and services that you offer.

If you think some personal branding coaching would be helpful for you, get in touch for a free, informal chat to find out more. I love nothing better than helping people to uncover the hidden gem that makes them – and their businesses – stand out from the crowd for all the right reasons.

Take care and stay true,


Emma

So today is Blue Monday, officially the most depressing day of the year.

The festivities are a distant memory, the shine has worn off of our New Year’s resolutions, and it feels a long time until pay day. It’s no wonder that we feel blue.

But what do we mean by ‘blue’? Why would we use a colour to represent our feelings, emotions and level of motivation? And why would we pick a colour that can have many happy associations (like a bright blue sky, or a sparkling blue sea) to represent sadness?

Colour as shorthand

We use colour as a psychological shorthand for a lot of things in daily life – paint manufacturers go to great lengths to tell us what particular shades represent and how they will make us feel; TV and cinema use colour to distinguish between opposing characters (have you ever noticed that the hero usually rides a white horse, and the villain a black one?), and brands use colour to stand out from the crowd and represent their company values.

Marketing and branding have a lot to answer for when it comes to our perception of colours, and what they mean.  We associate red with Father Christmas (instead of St Nick’s traditional green), because of the Coca Cola advert; rural and agricultural businesses tend to use a lot of (grass) green and (sunshine) yellow in their branding; fast food chains use red to evoke hunger and urgency; whilst bottled water companies use blue to represent purity and clarity, and luxury brands feature a lot of purple and gold.

When it comes to branding, the colours used can be just as important and impactful as the words or graphics themselves. A heating company logo that makes you feel cold or an organic food supplier that uses brand colours not found in nature are unlikely to inspire consumer trust and confidence.

What colour is your business?

Choosing your brand colours can be a bit of a minefield – even when you have narrowed down to a colour group, there are so many different shades to choose from.

My advice is to consider two things:

  • What do you want your colour palette to say about your products and services?
  • Who are you trying to appeal to?

Whether you are rebranding or starting from scratch, begin by defining your brand values, business offering and ideal customer, and take it from there. That will help you to not get distracted by pretty colours that perhaps don’t fit with your ethos or offering, and remain focussed on choosing a brand colour palette that says exactly what you need it to say.

The colours that you choose don’t need to be obvious or prescribed by your competitors, but whatever your colour palette, make sure that it accurately represents your business and how you want people to feel about it. If your branding reflects your business offering and provokes the right emotional response, chances are you are on to a winner!

If you’re not sure where to start, get in touch and let’s chat. In the meantime, take care and stay colourful,


Emma

We’ve all felt it – that knot of dread as we prepare to tell someone something that we’re certain they won’t want to hear.

By their very nature, difficult conversations will never be easy, but there are ways to ease the burden for all involved.

Here are my 5 top tips for making difficult conversations less daunting.

1. Keep an open mind

By going into a certain situation expecting a particular response, we can inadvertently make that outcome more likely to happen. It’s a bit like expecting to fail an exam – the more convinced we are that we will fail, the less motivated we become, the less effort we put in, and the more likely we are to achieve a lower score.

By assuming that the other person will react to the information we are about to give them in a particular way, it’s possible that our words and our body language will prompt them to do so. We cannot know everything that is going on in their life, so we shouldn’t jump to conclusions about what the information will mean to them. Even something as seemingly negative as redundancy could actually be the opportunity they’ve longed for to pursue their dream career. We don’t know, so we shouldn’t assume.

Keeping an open mind generates a more open conversation and a more honest exchange.

2. Be honest

It can be tempting to sugar-coat bad news, or to try and ‘spin’ the information to make it seem more palatable. Whilst there is nothing wrong with trying to protect the other person’s feelings, honesty really is the best policy.

If it really is bad news there will be very little you can do with words to make the situation better. Instead, present the facts as objectively and diplomatically as you can, and offer practical support if you are able to do so.

3. Don’t dawdle

There is nothing worse than hearing a rumour about something that affects you, before you have been told anything officially. Don’t put off a difficult conversation for any longer than is necessary for you to gather the facts and arrange an appropriate opportunity to talk with those concerned.

Remember that rumours can often be far worse than the truth, and attempting to refute misinformation can be much harder than being upfront with someone to start with.

4. Explain what happens next

Dependent upon the situation, this could be very straightforward or very complex, but it is important that you set out what will happen next. This is your opportunity to set expectations and put things into context. This allows the recipient to see beyond the conversation and understand how it will affect them.

5. Invite questions

No matter how well prepared you are, the chances are that the person you are talking with will have thought of a question you had not considered. If you know the answer, say it there and then, but if not, make a note and commit to finding out the information for them.

Bonus tip – stay calm

Difficult conversations are unlikely to become something you look forward to, but whether in a personal or professional capacity, they are bound to happen. Using my tips above will help you to feel more prepared and less daunted next time you find yourself or someone else uttering the phrase ‘we need to talk’.

Take care,

Emma