Good Branding is not about Slick Packaging

"Is this the perfect girl?" Image of a young woman pieced together from five different models.I had a conversation recently with an entrepreneur. Her business has had a very respectable amount of growth since she established it. She wants do all she can to continue her success, which brings her to thinking more about her brand.

A well-meaning colleague gave her some advice on what she should post on her blog. The colleague suggested that this entrepreneur should not necessarily post examples from every job she receives (which has been her practice since clients read her blog regularly), that to “brand” herself as a high-end professional she should only show work from jobs done with high-end clients.

The problem is, that advice didn’t resonate with the entrepreneur. While she could appreciate what her colleague said and she did agree that she wants to “step up” her business, this didn’t seem to be the solution. “I have a specific standard for my work that is always the same, and it shows in everything I do. Why should I exclude any job from my blog?” she asked.

A very good question.

My response to her was, “There is no reason to exclude anything. Your work is excellent, as always. It’s not a problem. Stay the course. You’ve had your current business success for a reason, you know.”

This conversation really got me thinking about the confusion there is about branding. I’ve read posts by Ryan Rancatore and others who talk about the backlash against branding is because they think that it’s about slick packaging. The colleague, while being an advocate of branding, was bringing that same confusion with her when giving advice. Love or hate branding, when the perception of it is one that involves perfect packaging, it’s erroneous.

Personal branding is about stepping out of the spotlight and letting others shine. It’s about what you can do for others. It’s being authentic. Much to the surprise of some people, that really doesn’t have much to do with posturing and self-puffery (well, unless that’s who you really are, I guess)…

Are you trying to put your best foot forward when branding yourself in your career? Well, yes — without a doubt. But even though you’re trying to convey the best you possible, it still needs to be YOU. If you add something that doesn’t click with you or remove something that matters in an effort to “better” your brand, it ends up being one that will not serve you well because the essence of the brand has been tampered with.

Image courtesy of daniellehelm

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