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Developing your unique brand identity in 2021

As an entrepreneur or business owner, you have probably heard how important it is to establish a unique personal brand for your business. Creating a brand may seem simple, but to truly be successful a brand needs its own identity that sets it apart from others. Developing a successful brand identity is the first step to building a successful business. Read on for the top 5 key elements you need to develop your unique brand identity. 

What’s in a brand? 

Let’s take a moment to define what even is a “brand.” One way to think of a brand is to think of it as your business’s personality. The business is the person, the brand is the personality that attracts people to the business.  

When thinking of your brand as the personality, or attributes of a person, these areas come to mind: 

  • Name
  • Image / Appearance 
  • How they communicate 
  • What they stand for / message / values 
  • Who they associate with 

A successful brand identity will have a unique image that stands out from the rest. It will communicate and engage with its core audience effectively and will have values that align with their audience’s values. When you start viewing your business’s brand as its personality, it becomes easier to identify the elements needed to attract customers. Just think, what qualities do successful people have? How can you translate those qualities to a business? 

5 Key elements you need to develop your unique brand identity

  1. Have a clear brand purpose and positioning 

The very first step in establishing your brand identity is to determine your business’s purpose and positioning aka why it’s important. What makes your business different from all the others? Why does the world need your business? Who is your target audience? What issue will your business solve? Answering these questions will help you establish your brand’s purpose and positioning. 

  1. Conduct thorough market research

Conducting market and customer research is one way to help you discover your brand’s purpose and positioning. For beginners to market research, there are many online resources to help you get started. 

From simply talking to people in your target audience, conducting phone interviews, or utilizing online survey tools, these methods can help you get a better idea of how your brand is perceived by others and what your target audience is looking for in a brand. 

  1. Design a memorable logo and color palette

Essential to your brand’s “personality” is their style. Logos, color palettes, and brand images are that style. They are your brand’s outer image, the face the world sees. 

Think of any iconic brand and you probably first think of their logo and colors. Red and white Coca-Cola. Apple’s sleek, bitten apple. McDonald’s golden yellow arches. Google’s simple text in red, yellow, blue, and green letters. Disney’s unique font and magical castle. 

Brand recognition is largely visual. In our fast paced, digital world images are becoming more important than ever, so a quality logo design is key to developing a successful brand identity. 

When designing a logo, keep it simple and uncluttered. Think back to those well-known logos. Most are not complicated, just unique. A simple logo will also make it easier to scale between mediums and products from digital banners to flyers, merchandise, or billboards. 

Keep the color palette simple too. Most brands stick to one to three primary colors in their palette. You can look into color psychology to choose colors that will appeal to your target audience or better convey your brand’s message, emotion, and tone. 

You don’t have to break the bank either with your logo design. There are many resources online that can help you create a professional looking logo for a low cost or even for free. 

You might be interested: 10 Free online resources for Latinas and other women small business

  1. Use language to connect and advertise on social media

Communication is key. How you communicate is also just as important. Use language that matches your brand’s personality. If you’re a hip and trendy brand, you can be more conversational and laid back. If you’re a professional or academic brand, use more polished language. Using the right language will help you connect better with your target audience and establish a more organic connection. 

Another way to build a deeper connection with your audience is through story-telling. People love stories, especially emotional or inspiring stories. Tell your brand’s story! Speak to your customers’ emotions. Engage with them on social media and utilize your digital platforms to create interactive opportunities. Advertising and social media presence are crucial avenues for getting your brand’s message and purpose across to larger audiences, connecting with current customers, and drawing in new potential customers. 

  1. Stay consistent 

One of the major markers of a successful brand identity is brand recognition. Staying consistent with your image, message, language, and purpose all contribute to your brand recognition. If you are inconsistent with your branding, customers may have trouble remembering your brand, especially when they are constantly bombarded by advertising everyday. You always want to stand out in your customer’s mind, and to achieve that consistency is key. 

Back to the analogy of a business as a person, if a brand is constantly changing their hair color or style every time you see them, you might have trouble recognizing them or you may start to think of them as inconsistent or unreliable. 

People want brands that they can trust. They want familiar. Stay consistent with your look, message, and when you post or engage online. This doesn’t mean you can’t have fun or change things up from time to time. Successful brands evolve over time to stay fresh. But core aspects of the brand should stay fairly consistent.

entrepreneur skills

Beyond COVID-19: Prepare your entrepreneur skills for the survival of the fittest

Understanding how your entrepreneur skills need to change in a dynamic global world cannot be more essential than at this time of COVID-19. Even if you have a job, you should consider these changes in your professional skills for a changing world.

entrepreneur skills

(Photo credit by Simone Viani on Unsplash)

The expression “every cloud has a silver lining” (no hay mal que por bien no venga, similar in Spanish) means that even the worst events or situations have some positive aspect of which you can take advantage to make the necessary changes for the success of your business.

Many entrepreneurs will lose their sales and market share, others will have to definitely close their doors, and many will hopefully be able to quickly adjust to the new conditions.

Companies are starting to lay off employees and trying to adjust to the new working conditions in order to maintain their stake. However, this is not going away too soon, and the economic consequences can be as devastating as the Great Recession of 2007-2009.

Is your SWOT in place?

If you are familiar with the SWOT analysis, as you should be, you know that the O stands for Opportunities and the T stands for Threats. Every small business owner must be in constant alert of changes in their market or current clients, their potential market or future clients, and the current regional, national and global change of affairs.

In that way, you can make adjustments to the way you conduct your business, find opportunities to offer new products that are needed by your customers, and especially, prepare your entrepreneur skills to respond to these changes.

A personal story about not “seeing it coming”

One of the “lessons learned” that I regret the most was the loss of our publication, Periodico Latino!, the first side-by-side bilingual newspaper in New Jersey. Following my passion for writing, I started the publication as a small pamphlet to promote and advertise our business.

However, the publication took off and soon we went from 8 to 32 pages, mailing it for free to over 8000 households in Central New Jersey, and distributing another 8000 issues through churches, bodegas, marketas, Latino restaurants, and more. It was an expensive undertaken, and we paid dearly for it.

It was the early 2000s, and I could have quickly jumped into a digital version of the publication. The Internet was starting to grow and many publishers were going into that direction. I stayed with paper, and we had to fold the publication almost three years later.

entrepreneur skills

(Image by StartupStockPhotos from Pixabay)

Change your priorities with new entrepreneur skills

So, what is the silver lining in the COVID-19 situation? Let’s quickly review new entrepreneur skills necessary to survive in the new world. You can also follow these guidelines if you have a job or are looking for a job.

  1. Identify your strengths and weaknesses and work on them

As a business owner, you wear many hats all the time. However, it is essential that you understand your personal and professional strengths and weaknesses. This knowledge will help with your business decisions, the partnerships you can bring on, and where and when to find the exact help you need.

Take this time to identify your business and your strengths and weaknesses. Set up a contingency plan to make quick decisions. Are there areas that can be automated? Do you need to reinforce your online presence? Can you quickly innovate or create products -for instance, digital products or services- that can serve your customers now and in the future? Can you find new sources of revenue that will help your business survive and even thrive in times like this one?

  1. Work at having a strong personal and/or business brand

Having a strong personal and/or business brand has become the only way that your business or you -if you are looking for a job- can stand out from the crowd.

Customers are looking for a brand they can identify with for its values, its products, its customer friendliness and the extended-value or satisfaction that can bring them to being associated with a brand that represents them well. Learn from sports and try to understand why you root for your favorite baseball or football team!

On the same token, customers will look for brands that take leadership and care for their customers at the time of need. What can you do during this time to let your customers -current and potential- know that you care for their situation (instead of feeling sorry for yourself about the financial misery you’re going through)?

Large employers as well as small businesses favor employees and new hires that demonstrate leadership and caring for their brand. Ideally, your personal brand should have some overlap with the company or business brand you work for.

Stop obsessing over social media and bad news, and work on ways you can present your business or yourself as a brand that makes a positive change in the world. When your self-improvement is your top priority, you’ll find yourself ready to thrive in any circumstance! 

  1. More than ever, rely on the Internet to conduct your business

If  you are not already there, you need to quickly start having a strong online presence. “Social distance” is causing many businesses to fail due to the needed interpersonal relationship with customers. Adding some of these entrepreneur skills will help you in maintaining that relationship now and always.

  • Increase your offering online and make your customers look for your choices and continue the relationship you had in person.
  • Even in bad times, coupons and discounts help people take advantage of those offers while ordering regular priced items. For instance, if you are in the food industry, empty supermarkets and fear of contagion will help your business thrive with targeted delivery options!
  • If you have not done it yet, build your customer database immediately! Email, texting and even telemarketing can rapidly create response to your offers.
  • Continue to contact your customers regularly with personal videos about your concern for them, what you are doing to keep up with the times, and how you’d want to continue your relationship with them. Offer a video with an extra class or idea about your business.  Telling them about your values and your concern will keep your business fresh in their memory!
  • Social selling is a paramount part of your business success so invite people to make comments and engage them in a conversation about ways to overcome their fears and boredom!
  • Along with your online presence, social networks represent a key part of any business’s marketing strategy. Make an effort to understand how each platform works, you’ll want to arm yourself with the best strategies for getting your startup and personal brand noticed on each one.

You might be interested: SBA provides Disaster Assistance Loans for Coronavirus impacted small businesses by states

entrepreneur skills

(Image by Rob de Roy from Pixabay)

We are living in a new world, and we will see the actions and consequences of these events more frequently. Man-made diseases and natural disasters are forcing us to quickly learn new ways of survival and adaptation.

The old phrase “the survival of the fittest” continues to be truth.

However, Michael Le Page, a reporter at New Scientist, tells us, “although the phrase conjures up an image of a violent struggle for survival, in reality the word ‘fittest’ seldom means the strongest or the most aggressive. On the contrary, it can mean anything from the best camouflaged or the most fecund to the cleverest or the most cooperative. Forget Rambo, think Einstein or Gandhi.”

5 Steps to build an employee branding strategy

If you want to build a remarkable employee branding strategy but don’t know where to start, here is a short guide for you.

brand strategist

Brand Strategist Vicky Ayala uses storytelling to build clients’ personal brands

Vicky Ayala, a Latina brand strategist and visual storyteller, believes one major component for building a brand is confidence. “When you are confident, your voice exudes strength and conviction which helps with conveying authority. These qualities help you build a strong brand that others will want to work with and invest in,” she shared with LatinasinBusiness.us.

brand strategist

Vicky Ayala, founder, Sacred Brand Mastery

With over fifteen years of experience in marketing, she shows multi-passionate entrepreneurs how to leverage their passions, talents and skills to cultivate their own profitable personal brand.

Vicky recently launched Sacred Brand Mastery where she utilizes her combined expertise in the social service sector, the startup world, and the entertainment industry to teach women how to harness the power of the internet to build online businesses and create financial freedom in their lives.

Brand strategist beginnings

Vicky began her career working for a non-profit organization post-college that provided vocational services for workers displaced by the 9/11 attacks. She worked her way up from counselor to director, leading the program’s employment outreach and professional development training. Though due to the difficult job market at the time, the program began to suffer and eventually Vicky herself became unemployed. It was during this time that she began exploring the option of entrepreneurship.

“This was my turning point which shifted the entire course of my entrepreneurial journey,” says Vicky. “I’ve been freelancing and running an online business ever since.”

brand strategist

Vicky Ayala, speaker at the 2018 Entrepreneur Empowerment Lunch

Vicky found her strength in storytelling. After years of honing her personal brand she found that she had a true talent for brand-building that she wished to share with others.

“As a brand strategist I am expert in developing and organizing a cohesive brand but the root of all personal and professional development is the ability to tell stories,” Vicky explains.

Vicky stresses the difference between “brand” and “business.”

“A brand is your mark on the world while a business is how you make money. Don’t confuse one for the other.”

One’s personal brand is what will represent them to the world and so it is important to build a strong brand that reflects one’s personality, passions, talents, and values in a cohesive way.

Overcoming self-confidence issues

Vicky understands and appreciates the importance of self-confidence now because it is something she struggled with early on in her entrepreneurial journey. She believes most of her early challenges stemmed from this issue of self-confidence. For her finding clients was never the problem, but as an introvert, putting herself out there for those potential clients was a massive hurdle.

She eventually overcame these obstacles by tapping into what she calls her “authentic self.” Looking inward and focusing on her goals and her passions brought her much clarity.

brand strategist

Vicky Ayala, presenter at the 2018 Entrepreneur Empowerment Lunch (Photo credit: Americano Newspaper)

“Once I was aligned with who I wanted to be, it was much easier to build a sustainable business around my passions,” says Vicky.

Now she works to help other women do the same so that they may harness their passions and build their own personal brand that stands out. She urges other Latina women to “take a leap of faith” for their passions.

“You don’t have to quit your day job,” she says, “but you have to decide that your passions are worth pursuing. In this day and age anything can be monetized so it’s not a matter of ‘if’ this will work out but rather ‘how’ will I get this to work out.”

Building a successful brand is a necessary and often over-looked component of entrepreneurship. By building a strong personal brand, one can ensure they will have a stronger business.

personal brand

Your personal brand, an asset or a liability for your business?

Is your personal brand a benefit to your business or career or it carries a load of negative reputation? The way people perceive you -customers, professionals you deal with on a regular basis, potential partners or investors, bosses or colleagues and more- can make or break your future!

A version of this article was published on Abasto Magazine for the July/August 2017 issue. 

Abasto Magazine personal brand

 

At LatinasinBusiness.us, we basically tell stories: stories of success but also stories of struggle; stories of ideas people have developed through their businesses or careers; their vision and perspectives, of innovation and achievement. We also tell the story of the journeys that have led them to be who they are now.

Telling your story is a simple way to refer to your personal brand, one of the most important skills to acquire if you want to be successful in your business  or career and stand out from the crowd.

Companies invest hundreds of thousands of dollars yearly to define and refine their brand. Your company brand is the most valuable asset you have, as it tells your customers about your company’s culture, your products, your services and your position in your community. The way your customers perceive your brand is instrumental in influencing their behavior to be loyal to your products or services. As consumers, we buy products from brands we like.

However, as a business owner, you are the face of your company and your personal brand matters… a lot.

Are you familiar with the story of Oprah and her struggle with poverty, abuse and weight loss, her determination to build a media empire and focus on education of underrepresented youth? Or the story of Sofia Vergara, a Colombian actress who struggled in her country of origin only to become a Hollywood icon and one of the most powerful Latinas in the country?

The same way, your personal brand matters to your customers; they want to know who they buy from. Are you a role model in your community? What is your purpose? What were your struggles when you started your business or what personal sacrifices you had to make in order to be where you are now?

Technology and privacy affecting your personal brandpersonal brand

In today’s world and with the expansion of technology, we have all become public figures –yes, if you have a cell phone or you are connected to the Internet, your life is not private anymore.

Taking control of your story or personal brand is instrumental, not only in advancing your vision in the middle of millions of other stories but also in narrowing the potential for damages to your reputation or blowing chances for access to opportunities.

Only you can tell your story in a unique way that can then be multiplied by your network, your industry or the social media wave. In the same fashion, someone else can take it to pieces and multiply it virally; and that might cause irreparable damage to your reputation or take a long time to be restored.

Think of all the opportunities you might have at telling your story in a unique way that can help you advance your personal or business goals by getting the attention from a potential client, a leader in your industry or a crowd in front of you.

Superheroes, a new path for your personal brand

We also live in a world of superheroes, and everybody is looking for the next superhero to come rescue them –corporations, customers or voters alike. You can become your customers’ superhero or superheroine if your unique story fits into their needs.

Whether it is a large corporation for which you are trying to become a vendor or your regular by-passer customers, people you deal with on a regular basis have now a world of resources to get to know who you are at their fingertips.

Instead of letting those resources plunge you, you need to take control and present yourself as the hero or heroine of your own story. Tell them your “secret” unique ability or combination of abilities that can “ease their pain”–being helping them solve a problem, advancing their organization’s mission or improving their profitability. And those abilities need to be intertwined in your unique story.

This is one of our clients’ testimonials about telling her story on LatinasinBusiness.us:

Carmen Milagro, Borbon Skincare personal brand

Carmen Milagro, Borbon Skincare

 

“First, the simple fact that the story of the birth of Borbon Skincare is out there in print is phenomenal, but the article also allows readers to know me as a real person, not simply a faceless company.

“Second, it has allowed me to ‘see’ my story unfold through the eyes of a reader and that is an invaluable tool for me. I am constantly evaluating and learning the way in which I speak and how it comes across to others. This helps me in presentations, interviews, as I am constantly learning about myself.”

Carmen Milagro, founder and CEO of Borbon Skincare

 

If you are in business, you sell ideas, products, and services but most importantly, you sell your own reputation. Don’t let your personal brand become a liability for your company. Learn to tell your story and let your personal brand become your biggest asset.

Do you want your story to be told on LatinasinBusiness.us for FREE*? Are you a Latina business owner with 5 employees or less? Do you sell your own products, services or ideas? 

Then email me at Susana@latinasinBusiness.us and you will have your glowing moment of fame on LatinasinBusiness.us! 

*Certain restrictions apply.

Freshie Feminine Care Review of LatinasinBusiness.us Pitch your Business to the Media Competition

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HjRbYMoOMqQ

 

personal branding

5 Steps to create a personal brand and become a SME

personal branding

Develop your own personal brand to become a subject market expert SME

As a frequent presenter on matters related to marketing and sales, I am often asked for advice on how to become a more effective salesperson. My first words are always the same, “become a subject matter expert!”

Unless the product or service is one-of-a-kind, most salespeople work in an extremely competitive environment. Most companies have at least one competitor. The majority have many. As such, no matter how great the product or service, at the end of the day, most salespeople are selling a commodity!

That’s where recognition as a subject matter expert, or SME, comes in. A subject matter expert is an authority in a particular field. Recognition as a subject matter expert is achieved through a combination of education, experience, and marketing. The role salespeople play every day makes them ideal candidates for SME status. And SME status makes selling less difficult.

People do business with people. Buyers of products and services, whether they are consumers or purchasing agents, prefer to work with someone they know and trust. Subject matter experts, over the course of developing their SME status, have the opportunity to develop the reputation and trust that places them top of mind with buyers. They are top of mind because they are considered the best in the business. And people want to work with the best.

Salespeople that have worked in a particular field for some time likely possess the skills and experience that qualify them as subject matter experts. While these individuals may already consider themselves subject matter experts, many of these individuals fail to position themselves as an SME in the eyes of buyers. As such, they lose sales to others that have proactively promoted themselves.

Philosopher George Berkeley proposed in his 1710 work, A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge, an argument with which we are all familiar. Berkeley asked us to imagine trees in a park and no one there to “perceive them.” According to Berkeley, “the objects of sense exist only when they are perceived; the trees therefore are in the garden […] no longer than while there is somebody by to perceive them.” In other words, and by mashing up Berkeley with philosopher René Descartes’ 1637 argument, I think therefore I am…but only if there is someone in the garden next to me while I think!

Is someone truly a subject matter expert if no one recognizes that person as a subject matter expert? I say no. Becoming an SME requires a strategy to create a personal brand that results in subject matter expert status.

THE FIVE STEPS TO SME-DOM

Five steps must be taken in order to achieve SME status and rise to the top of mind. None of these steps are new nor are they rocket science. Further, each step requires continuous attention. Each step comprises a portion of the foundation upon which an SME’s reputation is built.

  1. Networking: Salespeople live and die by their network. A robust network can provide a lifetime of leads to salespeople. A network is an SME’s best friend as it is the members of the network that vouch for and recommend the SME.

Much is said about online networking through platforms such as LinkedIn. While LinkedIn and other social networks provide tremendous benefits, salespeople should not abandon the old school face-to-face networking. Many buyers still prefer connecting a face and handshake to an online profile before making a buying decision.

Salespeople should view their network as a garden. A garden that is well maintained through continuous attention will produce beautiful flowers, fruits, and vegetables. A salesperson can make a good living by properly maintaining a network.

Social Marketing Strategist. Global Business and Social Media Keynote Speaker, Customer Evangelist

Ramon De Leon, WOW, Social Marketing Strategist. Global Business and Social Media Keynote Speaker, Customer Evangelist

  1. Credentials: Three elements are required to establish oneself as a subject matter expert: education, experience, and marketing. Having the right credentials fulfills the education component.

The nature of the credentials is dependent upon the field. For example, an SME working in the field of materials science must likely hold a bachelors, masters, or doctorate. On the other hand, an SME working in the professional soccer industry may not be required to hold an advanced degree but instead may be required to hold an advanced certification from a local, regional, or international coaching organization.

Every salesperson must determine the credentials that will be required to earn the respect and SME status of the community. A useful technique for making this determination is to review the LinkedIn profiles of current SMEs. Are there certain degrees and certificates that they hold?

The lack of a certain credential may make earning SME status a bit more difficult. However, it should not deter a salesperson from continuing with the plan to earn SME status. All it will require is compensation in some other area.

For example, a salesperson focused on selling human resources software need not possess a degree in human resources. A compensating factor may be possession of a certificate issued from an HR organization or a degree in a technical field.

  1. Ambassador: Maintaining a robust network and holding the appropriate credentials goes a long way in earning SME status. However, salespeople who are serious about elevating their status must continue down the path by becoming ambassadors of the industry in which they operate.

There are many ways to act as an ambassador. One technique is volunteering with a local, regional, national, or international trade organization. Salespeople can volunteer to assist with membership drives, conferences, and other activities undertaken by the organization.

This type of activity enhances the salesperson’s network, informs the salesperson of emerging challenges, and provides access to other tools such as best practices. This knowledge increases the salesperson’s value to clients and prospective clients.

  1. Accolades: There is nothing better than independent confirmation of SME status. Most industry organizations, as well as business journals, recognize experts and high achievers through some form of accolade. These accolades include the typical “30 Under 30,” 40 Under 40,” Top 10 CEOs, Top 10 CFOs, or some other similar designation bestowed by an industry organization or business journal. An additional source of recognition can be an alma mater.

Those seeking SME status should research the various accolades available and develop a plan to become nominated for an applicable award. While winning such an award can help solidify a salesperson’s role as a subject matter expert, in many cases a nomination can be just as beneficial. During the Oscars it is not only the winner for Best Actor that benefits. Other beneficiaries include the runners-up.

  1. Influencer: The final element on the path to SME status is establishing oneself as an “influencer.” Becoming an influencer is easier if progress has been made on steps 1 through 4 above. However, it is not a requirement.

    Jim Cramer CNBC's Mad Money

    Jim Cramer CNBC’s Mad Money

An influencer is essentially anyone who has the ability to affect a decision. Influencers have historically been mass media personalities with broad followings. Personalities such as Fox’s Sean Hannity, CNN’s Anderson Cooper, and CNBC’s Jim Cramer are typical influencers due to their ability to affect opinion and decisions.

In today’s world, influencers include less-recognized individuals such as bloggers, self-published authors, and others. The social media-enabled world we live in today has democratized the influencer industry. Now it is possible to develop a reputation as an influencer from a living room, local coffee shop, or park bench.

Becoming an influencer requires one basic element…relevance. Examples of influencing activities include the creation of a blog or podcast that provides valuable information, writing and sharing books, e-books, and whitepapers that address technical issues, responding to questions posed on social networks such as LinkedIn, and any other activity that highlights the salespersons expertise.

A bit of advice: do not focus on the sale. Focus on helping. People do not want to hear the pitch. They want to hear the solution. To the extent the solution is of value they will reach out and begin a dialogue, creating a warm lead for a sale.

Salespeople that follow these five steps will develop a reputation as a subject matter expert. The process does not take place overnight. However, the sooner a formal plan is developed and implemented, the sooner the salesperson will earn the benefits that come with being a subject matter expert.

It is true, selling is difficult. But with this five point plan it can be made less difficult. Happy selling!