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What Is A Brand? And Why Consultants Need One

By Michael Zipursky

You may not be Jay-Z, Taylor Swift or Tom Hanks…but you do have a brand.

According to Dan Schawbel, “each and every one of us is a brand…as a brand, we can leverage the same strategies that make these celebrities or corporate brands appeal to others. We can build brand equity just like them.”

You can position your business in the marketplace so that you are perceived as the best and logical choice.

First it’s important that you understand what a brand is.

Next I’m going to offer you a 4 part strategy to create an effective brand positioning in your marketplace.

What Is a Brand?

You will find thousands of definitions on what a brand really is. I like Seth Godin’s. He calls brand “a set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”

A logo, typeface, colors, and uniforms are all part of a brand, but they themselves are not a ‘brand’. They may support your brand but they aren’t the key to your brand.

Here’s another way to think about this: Your business or personal brand is everything you do and say that forms how people perceive you. What’s important here is the “how people perceive you” part.

Because in fact, you can, by taking specific actions and steps influence how people view you.

Applied to consulting, by creating an effective brand strategy for yourself and your business, you can position your business in the marketplace so that you are perceived as the best and logical choice.

Branding isn’t as simple as telling people you’re the best or having that written on your website. Everything about YOU needs to communicate and support that brand positioning.

You’ll discover new things about yourself and your goals that will help you to chart the path you’ll take.

So let’s get right into how you can create and develop your brand.

4 Steps to Branding Yourself and Your Business

1 – Discovery
Before you even create your logo and marketing materials it’s important that you discover what you want your brand to be all about. You can discover a lot about yourself and your true goals in life and in business by answering questions such as:

  • What do you want to achieve in your business (specific goals)?
  • What kind of life do you want to live?
  • Who is unique about your personality?
  • What situations do you feel comfortable in?
  • Which situations don’t you feel comfortable in?
  • What do you want to be known for?
  • What values do you believe in?
  • How do you want people to perceive you?

I know that these questions may sound pretty simple. Yet their simplicity is also their power. You’ll discover new things about yourself and your goals that will help you to chart the path you’ll take.

2 – Positioning
Now that you’ve figured out what you want your brand to stand for, the next step, and one that many people skip, is to align your brand with your positioning.

To do this, start by looking at your value proposition. Figure out what you will you offer that is unique in the marketplace that your ideal clients will find valuable and will be willing to pay for.

Next, you want to make sure that you value proposition and your brand promise support each other.

Let me give you an example, if your brand is all about sustainability, the environment, and your visual identity looks earthy and ‘natural’ but your value proposition comes across as hardcore, fully revenue focused and so on…this could be viewed by your ideal clients as a disconnect.

What you need to remember, and what’s important, is that your messaging around your value proposition works with your brand promise. They shouldn’t but heads and fight with each other. Because if they do, your ideal client will become confused and your brand won’t stand out.

You want your ideal client to ‘get you’ and to understand exactly what you are about, what you value, what value you can bring to a situation and have the total experience be smooth and consistent.

3 – Show It
Now armed with what you want your brand to be known for and a compelling value proposition that will capture your ideal clients’ attention…your next job is to get your brand out there.

What do your clothes say about you? How do you introduce yourself? What do you tell people you do? All of these things should be in line with your brand to get the maximum result.

And carrying on from the last point in the second step, you need to make sure that you’re doing this with consistency.

Step one and two will have given you several criteria that will form a guide for you to follow when you communicate with the marketplace.

This includes:

  • The tone and style of your writing
  • The look and feel of your website
  • Your logo and marketing materials
  • Your online profiles such as LinkedIn, Twitter, blog, etc.
  • The way you communicate with current and prospective clients.
  • Your involvement with other groups and organizations (non-profits and for-profits)
  • And so on.

Keep It Consistent Test

There’s a quick and easy test you can do to see how your brand is being viewed by prospective clients, the media, etc.

Go online and do a search for your name. Then your company name. Why? Because that’s exactly what other people will do.

So what do you see? Do all of your profiles, sites and results look consistent? Is the messaging focused?

If not, you can be sure that your ideal clients will have some confusion about you and your brand. The more focused and consistent you are the better.

Another test you can do is to consider how people perceive you when they first meet you. What kind of impression do you give?

What do your clothes say about you? How do you introduce yourself? What do you tell people you do? All of these things should be in line with your brand to get the maximum result.

4 – Keep Things Fresh
Your brand like your body benefits from a refresh from time to time.

As your goals, focus and plans change, so too can your brand evolve.

The key is to always make sure you are clearly communicating these changes.

If you were heavily involved in the corporate world and have now left to consult and advise tech start-ups your previous image and messaging may benefit from an update.

Consider the young tech entrepreneur looking to get some financing advise. They go online and find a couple of consultants in their area. One has a very corporate looking website and his online profile uses big words to describe everything he did. The other consultant has a website that looks fresh, a bit techy, and his use of language is conversational and friendly.

Both consultants know their stuff. But whose brand better aligns with their target market?

Remember, your brand is everything you are and do. It’s always alive. Every action you take or don’t take can influence your brand.

The companies and consultants that make the most of their brand see tremendous results.

Those that ignore their brand often find themselves ignored as well.

10 thoughts on “What Is A Brand? And Why Consultants Need One

  1. Good post Michael! Long gone are the days where only organizations need to think about brands. In the google-era, everyone can be searched for instantly. Personal branding to me means controlling the content and message your sending, as well as locking down your personal ‘properties’ – if you can.

  2. Henri says:

    You have made some very good points here Mr. Michael. Look for your next article.

  3. Doug says:

    Loved it. Succinct and effective direction.

  4. Kendra L. says:

    This is very helpful cause branding I think of as for big companies and not consultants as much.

    • Thank you Kendra! Every consultant should work on cultivating their brand.

  5. Joel says:

    It’s a good piece of information

  6. raj says:

    Thank u so much for giving us such important guide lines of brand consulting firms

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