An Image Branding Mistake: I Make It But You Shouldn’t

September 30, 2008

I don’t usually advise people to do something I don’t do myself. But I’m making a huge image branding mistake that you should avoid at all costs.

Excellent branding is essential to your survival, whether you’re a massive company, or a freelancer going it alone. And it’s becoming far more important for folk to feel like they’re dealing with real people, as opposed to some faceless corporation. So getting your image out there, or the image of a key member of your business is vital, if you want to stand out from your competitors.

Now, I’m not saying you should slap a mugshot of yourself in the middle of your company logo. But it should be on your website or blog and in all your marketing materials, so whenever your customers think of your company, they can immediately picture your face.

I don’t do this - I should but I have my reasons. I’m not wanted by the police and I’m not part of some witness protection program, or anything like that. And I’m exactly who I say I am and I’ve done all the things I’ve claimed to have done, otherwise I wouldn’t use my real name as my internet domain.

The simple truth is, I have a scar on my face. It’s not horrendous - I’m far luckier than some people. But it’s visible - folk who are close to me wouldn’t insult me by telling me it wasn’t. I can’t cover it with make-up - as it’s sunken - it’s right below my left eye and surgery won’t put it right either.

I’m not good at photoshop so, I can’t cover it up that way - if I could, I would. Folk can criticize me for that if they like, or tell me it’s part of me, which I hate. It isn’t, I wasn’t born with it and it reminds me of one of the most terrible moments of my life.

But not using an image of myself in my own personal branding does go against me, which is why I’m advising you to use yours in your own branding - unless you’ve got a good reason not to.

People don’t interview me - for example, Kelly from She Power has wanted to interview me for months but she won’t publish the interview on her blog without a picture, as she doesn’t want to feature folk who have a problem showing their identity in some way. And I guess a lot of other people will feel like that too. But I’ve spent hours trying to get rid of the scar with photoshop, so she can have a picture and it just hasn’t worked.

Think about the people you know on the Internet - there’s very few who don’t use their own image, as a major part of their branding. And when you think about their business, or their website, or blog - you automatically tend to visualise them. Good examples are: Guy Kawasaki, Liz Strauss, Seth Godin, Jeremy Schoemaker and Darren Rowse.

There’s few folk I can think of who are well known and don’t use their own images as part of their branding. The only ones who come to mind are Harry and James of Men With Pens, Barbara Swafford of Blogging Without a Blog and Skellie of Skelliewag. They no doubt have their own reasons for withholding their images and I don’t know if doing so is holding them back too.

Do you prefer to see a person’s image, before you deal with their company? Do you feel that you warm to them more. And is there any circumstances where a company shouldn’t use images as part of their overall branding strategy?

17 Ways To Stand Out From The Crowd

September 28, 2008

Whether you’re a business owner, an artist, or a hooker, you’ve got to stand out from the crowd to get noticed. And the good news is, you don’t have to rely on luck, or special talent to stand out - you just need to rely on yourself.

Make Sure You Offend Plenty Of People: Some folk will be offended no matter what you do. Not everyone will like you ever - even if can walk on water and turn urine into Bollinger. You’ll never please them all - so don’t worry about offending some people. It’s far better than not being noticed at all.

Borrow But Don’t Copy: Watch others who are brilliant in your field and borrow the best bits from each one. But don’t copy them completely. You’ve got to add something unique to the pot, or you’ll never stand out from the crowd.

Don’t Bow To Other People’s Rules: Rules are everywhere. And thanks to the Internet, there’s plenty more people trying to ram their rules down your throat. From what to eat, what to wear, how to have the perfect marriage and even how to blog - you’ll never be short of folk who are happy to tell you the do’s and don’ts. Follow the ones that feel right to you and stick two fingers up at the rest.

Don’t Be A Timewaster:
Don’t be one of those people who never has time for marketing. Understand this - no matter how great you are at what you do, you’re wasting your time if nobody knows about it. If you want to sell your talents, or your products, make the time to show them off.

Don’t Try To Be Seen Doing The Right Thing All The Time:
When you’re in public - don’t feel obliged to do and say particular things, just because it’s “the right thing to do” in a particular situation. At best - you’ll look like one of those smarmy politicians. At worst, nobody will notice you at all. If you want to wear canary yellow to a funeral, don’t feel like you’ve got to hide it under a black coat.

Make Yourself Lucky: How many times do you hear someone say, “She was just in the right place at the right time.” It’s irritating isn’t it? The truth is, if you put yourself in plenty of places, you’ll eventually wind up in the right place at the right time too - it has nothing to do with luck.

Make Sure You’re Passionate About What You Do: If you’re not passionate about what you’re doing, you haven’t got a hope in hell of standing out from the crowd. You’d be far better off trying to find something you are passionate about.

Quit Whining And Get On With It:
I get sick and tired of hearing folk whining about others who’ve done well in their particular field, because they think they’ve had some amazing advantage. That kind of talk is just making an excuse for failing before you’ve even tried. Don’t whine - just get on with it and people will take more notice of you.

Always Remember - Nobody Is Better Than You:
And you’re not better than anyone else, but that doesn’t mean you’ve got to hang out with deadbeat losers.

Never Promise To Do Anything You Can’t Deliver:
But believe that you are capable of achieving anything you want to achieve.

Don’t Be Put Off By The Average Types: You’ll always come across some Mrs or Mr Average, who’ll tell you to think twice before you start a business, because the average business owner only earns X amount. Or not to bother writing a novel, because the average novelist has to take a day job to pay the bills. It’s ok to know these figures but remember - you’re not aiming to be average at anything.

Use Bold Marketing Techniques To Stand Out From The Crowd:
You won’t get noticed unless you market yourself well. And whether you’re selling a product, or your talent, if you stick to the same old tired marketing activities that the average performer in your industry is using, you’ll get the same old average results. By all means - do all the tried and tested stuff but do something bold as well.

Ignore The Critics: There will always be someone out there who’s desperate to slate you. But remember this - if the critics really knew what they were talking about, they wouldn’t just be critics. Besides, it’s better to be slated in public than ignored.

Applaud The Successes Of Your Friends Or Associates:
Those who get jealous of the folk they hang out with, rarely have much success. Be genuinely excited about the success of your friends and tell the whole world about them. You’ll get far more attention if you’re surrounded by successful people, than if you hang out with a bunch of losers.

Don’t Be Afraid To Pull Shameless Publicity Stunts:
Pull as many stunts as you can to get noticed. And don’t worry that some people might criticize your stunts for being obvious. The point is to get attention, not praise.

Remember - Most Publicity Is Good:
There’s few things that aren’t worth getting attention for. So long as you don’t do anything to make your customers or fans feel like 24 carat mugs for believing in you.

Don’t Be Afraid To Be Controversial:
Ok, so if you go too far, you may have to go into hiding for a few years like Salman Rushdie did, but it will pay off in the end.

Would you do whatever you could to stand out from the crowd? Or do you prefer to play it safe, even if it means not getting noticed?

Related Reading

Free Gift Ideas That Help You Sell More
Building A Brand - All You Need Is A Kamikaze Attitude And Bad Hair
Being Bold Beats Talent
Self Confidence: Does Doing Beat Telling

Being Bold Beats Talent

September 10, 2008

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.” Goethe

Are you being bold enough? Does breaking the rules to get yourself noticed terrify the life out of you? Or would you do anything to sell yourself?

No matter what you’re selling - a product, a service, or brand YOU, you’ve got to sell yourself first. And to do that, you need to market yourself well. Being bold and different to everyone else is the only way to get yourself noticed. If you don’t do that, you’ll just become another “me too”. And “me too’s” don’t give anyone good enough reason to buy into them.

It’s like being one of those everyday products you see in the plain white packaging in supermarkets. They’re cheap, because they’re commodities. And the only reason anyone buys them is because of the low price. And you don’t want anyone to see you, or your product or service as a commodity, do you?

So What About Talent?

So, where does talent come into it? Is that not more important than being bold? I don’t think it is. If I had to put my money on either a) a bold person, who is good at what they do, or b) an amazingly talented person who isn’t willing to be bold; the bold one would get the cash every single time.

When Madonna became famous in the eighties, I’m betting there was plenty of women out there who could sing far better. But I’m also guessing there were few, if any who were as bold.

So What If You Don’t Do Bold?

Some acts of boldness come easier to some people than others. And that doesn’t matter. Choose something you feel comfortable doing - but not too comfortable. Any act of boldness is going to leave you feeling slightly uneasy - it wouldn’t be called boldness if it didn’t. But we do need to find our own way of being bold and getting ourselves noticed, even if that means breaking a few rules.

What If You Don’t Like Breaking Rules?

Some people feel uncomfortable about breaking the rules. And I’m not suggesting you go out and break the law - a lot of those legal rules are there to protect us and create order in our world. But what about the other rules? If we all follow the same ones - the outcome is the same for us all. They stop us from being unique.

If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of breaking rules, just make a few of your own up and only break the ones that conflict with them.

And If You Still Don’t Like The Idea Of Being Bold

Don’t worry, there’s always someone else eager to take your place. Just try not to wallow too much in self pity when they get what you wanted.

Are you willing to be bold to get what you want? If not - what’s stopping you?

Related Reading

Internet Branding - Did You Screw Up Too?
Branding: From Technogeek To Internet Superstar
“Building A Brand: All You Need Is A Kamikaze Attitude And Bad Hair
Gerald Ratner: From Crap Peddler To Dotcom Millionaire

Lets Focus On Promoting You

July 25, 2008

It’s my birthday today. They come round too fast. And I can’t have a cake to console myself because of the fat ass project. The good news is, I thought I was 40 this year, then Stuart (my husband) reminded me that I am in fact 39. But I still think birthday’s suck, so to take the focus off me - lets focus on promoting you.

Whether you’re building a business, your own personal brand, or your personal blog on the Internet, promoting yourself well is a must. So where do you start?

If you have a blog, Liz Strauss has a generous offer for you. She’s holding a weekend showcase and if you send her your details, she’ll showcase your blog on 26th and 27th July. Click here to get the full details. But hurry - or you’ll miss out.

Your next stop should be Barbara Swafford’s blog. Like Liz, she’s excellent at building community. She makes a point of visiting the blog of every single person who drops by. And other members of her community often do the same. Barbara does a lot to help and support new bloggers. And if you’re really lucky and she likes your blog, she may even award you New Blogger of The Week, which puts your blog in the limelight.

Are you a She Power Woman, or a She Power Man even? If so and you’d like to go under the mic, Kelly at She Power wants to interview you. You can read her recent interview with Vered of Mom Grind here and discover how to take advantage of this wonderful promotional opportunity.

Social networking is another great way to promote yourself. And if you’d like to learn how to promote yourself well on StumbleUpon, Caroline Middlebrook is offering a StumbleUpon course and the great news is, Part 1 is free. Click here to view more details

If you’re banned from StumbleUpon like me, don’t worry, you can always Twitter instead. I must confess that I’ve found Twitter a bit confusing to learn. But Scott Sweeney has written a fantastic resource to help you promote yourself on Twitter.

And don’t forget to promote yourself offline too. Scott McIntyre has written a fab article with great ideas for promoting yourself, or your business outside of the Internet.

What else could you do to promote you, or your business? Please share your ideas in the comments section, or ask any questions you may have. And feel free to post links if you’ve discovered resources elsewhere, or if you’re offering a promotion on your own site. They may go into a moderation queue but I’ll approve them just as soon as I can.

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