Marketing November 28, 2012 Last updated September 18th, 2018 3,177 Reads share

Personal Branding – 7 Mistakes That Hurt

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You have been working hard on your personal branding of late, and stumble across the many trials and tribulations associated with defining “my brand.” For example, do you use your company name or your own name for your twitter account? Do you work on building up your own name or a business brand name? Which has more longevity? Are they mutually exclusive?

Personal Branding – can it hurt?

Oh the questions, the conversations with your friends, colleagues, marketers, and yourself. Where does one start? How does it pan out? How can we define personal branding that will work for us?

Speaking with entrepreneurs, business owners and clients recently, the biggest challenge they face is whether to tightly associate their offering with a brand, or their own actual name?

Authors and bloggers who sell their perception, expertise and philosophy under their own names, seem to do exceptionally well, and survive. You really wouldn’t realise if they took a week out, or would you? When you consistently hear their voice in everything they produce?

I had an email from Seth Godin recently. He decided it was time to display his appreciation to all the people involved in the background of his business and the publishing of his book. These are the ghost editors, the artists, graphic designers, publishers etc. etc. who support his personal branding – it’s all about Seth. Now, any of you who follow Seth, knows that he makes it all about you!

And if Seth became ill, how long before his content dries up? Or does Seth have a plan in place? Is his brand transferable?

When thinking about whether to use your own name like elainerogers . com or build a brand that will not feel, look and sound different if you were out of the equation, consider the following personal branding mistakes:

7 ways to hurt your personal branding

# 1. Mixed Messages

Darren Rowse of Problogger is well known as himself, and his brand “Problogger” is equally well known. His Facebook page has Problogger in the URL, but has his own name in the page itself – clever? Darren has worked hard at sharing his personal brand, while pushing the Problogger name also.

Personal branding

Is he giving mixed messages? Will he fail where Seth succeeds? Fortunately, as we follow these inspiring people, we realise that it works for them, because they are being authentic and true to themselves, whether that is in their name, their brand, or both.

Susan Boyle has made quite a stir over the past few years, and has just released her fourth album. To celebrate, her PR team have created a twitter hashtag for the event #susanalbumparty. Unfortunately, they may have not noticed how words can play on you. (This blip has not been confirmed yet!)

# 2. Mixed Melodies

So you have a fantastic website and blog, and no social network presence. Yes, that was acceptable 10 years ago and it is deemed downright silly now! But where does one begin? I asked this question on twitter – the top No 1 answer was – “start with LinkedIn”! Build your profile and social position on Linkedin first. Then, it is recommended you work with the top 2 SN sites for your audience – be they Twitter and Facebook, Facebook and Pinterest, Instagram and Quora…

3. See-Saw Merry-Go-Round

You want to be individual, you want to stand out, and you want to make a difference. So what do you do? You do what most people do – go out and copy what’s already out there. If you want a unique sound in your song, turn off all the other melodies and trust in your imagination. Know your clients – what they like, and sing to them directly! There’s a great saying “Why fix it if it ain’t broke?” and this can be true for certain products and services. If it is important for you to stand out, you need an edge. Your personal branding message is the ONE SURE way of ensuring your message is unique.

# 4. Too much Honey

Sugared water is a great attractor of wasps – if that’s what you want to attract. So beware of setting up sugary tidbits to attract people that are only after one thing – your honey! They don’t get out alive, and therefore do not spread your message. Provide pollen, so your connectors can spread the goodness of what you provide.

# 5. Self Promotion

An Australian graphic designer based in New York speaks of a personal “foundation”. Jacob Cass arrived in New York in a job from college and suddenly finds himself unemployed. He speaks candidly of using his social networks to gain employment. An interesting watch, how perseverance and personal branding helped him succeed in his work, and his life! [youtube][/youtube]

# 6. Selly Sell Selly Pitch

I love this term from Chris Brogan, when he is about to talk about a product or service he is pushing or an affiliate link. He used “Selly selly selling coming right up” recently to warn me of a sales pitch in the next paragraph of his email, and invited me to read no further if I had no interest, or to even delete the email.

What worked here? Trust. When you trust a personal brand, you will always forgive a sales pitch thrown in – a small percentage of the time! A sure way to not come across as selly sell, is to borrow from the Pareto Principle of 80/20 – provide quality, help, assistance and conversation 80% of the time, sell 20% of the time. This works for email marketing, social media and social networking.

# 7. Self-branding – a personal experience

Not only can it be very painful (ouch) if not done correctly, self-branding can leave marks, welts and scars! I signed up for two newsletters a few months ago, to two of the recommended case studies of the website Teaching Sells. From one, I was receiving helpful emails about setting up an online business, leading to a sign up of his course. I appreciated the emails, and did not feel obliged to sign up but replied to him with another query regarding some of the tools he was using. I received back a lengthy personal email FULL of useful content.

From the second sign-up, I was receiving nearly daily emails pushing me to watch his awesome videos, and read his amazing posts, NOW! Until of course he stepped over the line, and referred to me (and his entire mailing list) as a leech:

personal branding email newsletter mistake

Now, it takes a lot to actually extract a reaction from me, as I am fully aware of getting into debates and battles online. But to entice someone in with relevant and free content, and then ensue with name-calling? It hit a nerve, and I wrote back explaining why I was “unsubscribing”.

Email marketing is such an important part of personal branding, beware that your personality extends to personal feelings. Or perhaps leeching has positive implications!

In Conclusion

When you know others around you are watching and listening, do you conduct yourself in a certain way? Online, there are even more people watching and listening in a given moment – take it in, respect it, and respond accordingly.

Have you experienced negative or positive branding? Online or offline? Why not share with us below…

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Images:  ”Marketing concept: pixelated words Personal Branding on digital screen /

Elaine Rogers

Elaine Rogers

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