Tonya Eberhart is the founder of personal branding firm BrandFace, LLC. Michael Carr is a former BrandFace client-turned-co-author and partner. They focus on helping real estate professionals become the face of their business and a star in their market. Learn more at BrandFaceRealEstate.com.
7 Sins of Personal Branding
Correct these mistakes to hone in on your brand statement and attract the ideal customer.
June 15, 2016
What is a “personal brand”? Just like company or product branding, it’s built around imaging and messaging that is designed to create a feeling. Your personal brand influences how you want others to feel about you.
From photos to other branding elements, and even content, there is a lot that goes into creating your unique brand. Displayed correctly and consistently across all marketing platforms, a well-defined brand can elevate agent recognition and help to establish credibility and authority. However, when executed incorrectly, the effects are lackluster at best — and harmful at worst. To help you avoid the pitfalls of personal branding, here’s a list of what we consider the seven deadliest sins.
Number One: You Don’t Differentiate Yourself
Branding is not about being known for your profession; it’s about being known for being different in your profession. If all agents were the same, how would consumers know which one to choose? What makes you uniquely positioned to serve your customers’ needs? Or, just as important, what makes other agents unsuitable to serve their needs? Your personal brand should reflect a combination of your ideal customer’s needs and your unique point of differentiation.
Number Two: You Lack Focus on Who You Want to Serve
The natural instinct is to serve everyone, but frankly, that’s how many companies and individuals fail. The most successful people focus on superior service toward a specific type of customer; in other words, they develop a specialty. At first, you may feel like you’re excluding the rest of the world and, therefore, missing out on a large amount of money you could be making. However, focusing on one specific type of customer will help you develop a defined brand and will bring more business. This doesn’t mean you never conduct business outside of your specific focus, but over time, you will do more and more of the exact kind of business you want.
Number Three: You’re Not Being Authentic
Your brand is an extension of you, and it should be based on the qualities you’re known for among your sphere of influence. You should be able to “breathe your brand” in everything you do without feeling as though it’s a facade. There is a tremendous amount of confidence that comes with knowing that you are who you portray yourself to be and that you have the habits, inspiration, and knowledge to back it up.
Number Four: Your Brand Isn’t Consistent
You can have a recognizable and memorable brand, but if you don’t display the branding elements —your logo, tagline, messaging, and imagery — consistently across all marketing platforms, it does you little good. Repetitiveness in marketing is not only a good thing, it’s also essential for retention. We recommend choosing no more than four photos and background images to use consistently so people can become familiar with your branding. When you and those who live and work with you daily begin to get sick and tired of seeing them, you’ll know that it’s beginning to take root with your customers.
Number Five: You’re Not Backing Up Your Brand With Content
The ultimate goal of personal branding is to become known as an authority in your chosen niche. That means that you must demonstrate the knowledge, expertise, and experience to back up your position. In today’s instant-information world, this means producing content. There are several types of content, such as photos, quotes, e-books, video shorts, and podcast recordings. Choosing what you’re most comfortable producing is key to keeping it simple. Great content shows your authority and helps your customers at the same time. In addition, it helps with SEO and attracting prospects online.
Number Six: You Don’t Have a Call to Action
You’re spending money on almost every marketing platform, so why not take the opportunity to extend an invitation to your prospects to engage with you? Your call to action can be simple, such as “call me first,” or more specific, like “contact me for a free home-staging assessment.” Your call to action may change with different marketing channels or purposes, but you should always have one. If you want people to do something, tell them what you’d like them to do.
Number Seven: You’re Not Following Through
Your brand is your bond; it’s your handshake. When you say you’ll do something, how can people truly trust you if you don’t follow through on your promise? This is often the element that people forget altogether. And, in fact, in our communication with hundreds of agents, follow-through is at the top of the list when it comes to customer complaints. You must live up to your brand’s standards with every customer and transaction.