Crafting a personal brand
Over previous articles we have talked about the importance of choosing the network that will best deliver what you need to successfully run your own travel business. We have discussed what is on offer from those networks and what you need to consider when making a decision about which network to join.
Now I want to talk about the importance of developing your own personal brand, what that brand means and how you can best maintain the value of that brand.
Why? Because it does not matter what sort of travel business you are in, be it a national franchise, an affiliate, an associate, or an independent. Ultimately, the brand and the brand image that you present to the world is vital to your success.
There is no doubt that the competition for the travel dollar is fierce, and it will only get more so over time. So the question remains, how do you stand out from the crowd and create an image that will make people take notice of you?
First of all, it’s worth defining what branding is. Branding is the process of creating a unique name and image for a product or a service in the consumers’ mind. It aims to establish a significant and differentiated presence in the market – usually via advertising and promotion – that ultimately attracts and retains customers.
A personal brand, meanwhile, is in many ways an extension of your reputation. It refers to the way other people see you as a business owner or as a representative of an idea or organisation. When you have a strong personal brand, people recognize your name and are interested in what you have to offer. But more importantly, they understand what you’re about.
One of the key challenges of personal branding is figuring out where to start. I suggest that you first consider what you stand for in business, what values you want your personal brand to have and what those values mean to you – and more importantly, your customer. Values are the easiest thing for people to identify with, and also the most important place to start.
Your personal brand is a result of the thoughts and words of other people, and of course, it’s shaped by how you present yourself publicly. It’s also something that you have complete control or so you can decide how you would like people to see you and work on becoming that image.
The next step is to market your personality. In essence, personal branding is really selling yourself. You need to think about how you act and have a clearly identifiable personality so that people feel like they know you – even if they don’t. Your style of delivery should also be as unique and individual as any other aspect of your personal brand. This doesn’t mean that you need to sit down for weeks on end brainstorming how to be different. For most people, it will happen quite naturally.
A strong personal brand is an essential element of a strong business – it helps you to stand out in a crowded market place. Start the process by laying out your core values, and build your brand from there.
Next time we’ll take a look at the next steps in the process so you can start working on your business.