Being the Brand: The Benefits of Becoming a Walking Billboard

When you’re just starting out with a new venture, building brand awareness is critical to getting your business off the ground. After all, new customers and clients can’t even consider trying out your products or services if they don’t even realize they exist. One of the most cost-effective ways to build early word of mouth about your new brand is to convert people into brand evangelists for your business, singing its praises to anyone who will listen.

That process has to start with you. You must be the ultimate brand missionary spreading the good word about the incredible, problem-solving benefits your brand is offering people. Think about it: If you don’t really, truly, 1,000-percent believe in what you’re selling, why would anyone else? Authenticity breeds trust.

Just talking up your brand isn’t enough, of course. To succeed, you’re going to need to actually become your brand, to live your brand. It has to become personal. Please understand that this cannot involve putting on an act or a show for people! The slightest whiff of inauthenticity can doom your personal brand. Instead, your brand should be a reflection of who you are. Do you know what you believe? What you stand for? What your strengths and weaknesses are? You must. Your brand must become a natural extension of who you are. Kim Kardashian isn’t out there pretending to be Oprah, nor vice versa. Their personal brands reflect their own journeys and aspirations, which is why people respond to them.

So, once you have a solid idea of what you want your lifestyle and interactions to say about your brand, how to you begin incorporating that brand into your everyday life in a way that will build awareness?

1. Become your own billboard.
Start wearing your brand like a badge of honor. T-shirts and bumper stickers are a start, but think about your target audience. If your brand is targeted towards professionals, a sleek Macbook skin featuring your logo might be good, or a branded leather briefcase. Consider wrapping your entire vehicle in your brand, or carrying a branded grocery bag, gym bag, or diaper bag-whatever your target audience might identify with. Turn your brand into a conversation starter wherever you go!

2. Get in front of people.
Seek out opportunities to be the center of attention, then use that attention to introduce your brand. Look for speaking engagements on topics you have expertise in. Help organize events that will attract your target demographic. Volunteer for leadership roles in community organizations for which your brand might be a good fit. Don’t worry about starting small-just look for every opportunity to get up in front of people and be a living example of the benefits of your brand.

3. Create content people can use.
It’s not enough to be a brand evangelist in public. You need to create resources that people will seek out in private, too. Create content such as blog posts, thought-leadership articles, videos, and other messages that provide value, establish your credibility, and promote sharing. Make sure all of it is branded and communicates your brand value! This is critical to spreading awareness online.

4. Make sure your digital presence is on point.
If your social media profiles, emails, and website look like crap, that’s going to reflect on your brand. Remember, now that you are a brand missionary, everything you do reflects on your brand. Make sure your online presence communicates your authentic self, expertise, brand value, and trustworthiness. If it doesn’t serve this mission, get it offline.

5. Stay on the cutting edge.
Stagnation kills brands. If you fail to stay relevant, all of your effort will be wasted. Do not be discredited by your own laziness! You don’t have to know everything about every new development about your industry, but you have to want to know. It always pays to learn new things, develop new skills, and to expand your knowledge. Otherwise, you’re going to be left behind in a hurry.

Now, these are all tips that I’ve learned building not only my personal brand, but the brands of other entrepreneurs, Fortune 500 companies, and successful businesses, as well. I’m sharing them with you for free because we both know that a roadmap only gets you so far. You’ve got to get out there and hustle to make your dreams happen—I can’t do that part for you! I can, however, show you how. Stay tuned.

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