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Image is Everything – The Importance of Personal and Professional Branding

In today’s business world, every Tina, Debra, and Suzie is an entrepreneur. With the convenience and accessibility of the internet, it’s never been easier to carve out a business presence on the World Wide Web. With that said, there has to be something that sets those super-successful businesses apart from the mediocre ones. What’s that thing? Branding.

Branding is the ongoing development of the perceived value of an individual or business, in relation to its competitors, as viewed by an audience -and whether you have a small start up or a mega-franchise or are simply trying to market yourself, branding should be at the forefront of your mind.

There are two main types of branding- personal and professional- and both types are extremely crucial in the success of an individual or business. Here are some tips that can apply to the development of both types of branding.

o Image should not be contradictory- you cannot market yourself or your business as one thing but speak, dress, and act as another. It’s important that you stay true to who you are and what you want to portray. As long as you are honest with yourself and others, it won’t be difficult to maintain consistency in branding your business and/or yourself.

o Brand should be easily accessible and identifiable- if you Google your name or your business’ name what would you find? If there is any information there at all, is it accurate and consistent? If you are less than satisfied with the results, be sure to do what you can to correct it. There are plenty of articles out there that help you figure out how to successfully use Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to build your personal and professional brand.

o Be consistent in your brand development- you cannot expect to build or change your brand overnight. Branding is an ongoing process that should be taken seriously and given much thought. Create a daily, weekly, or monthly block of time for you to focus on branding. Once you find a method (or methods) that work for you, stick with them and monitor how effective they are.

o Be careful where you leave your footprint (mouse-print) – although the internet is a great tool to build your business and your brand, it can also prove to be a place where images are destroyed. Pay attention to the pictures you let circulate, the comments you leave on others’ blogs, and the social networks you become a member of. With the click of a mouse, anyone can learn all about how you spent Spring Break ’07 in Cancun. If it fits into your image and brand, then there’s no problem. But if it doesn’t, it can put a damper on the way others see you.

Personal and Professional branding, if used correctly, can really give you the competitive edge as you grow your business. It’s important that you take the time to carefully develop and maintain a brand that will prove to be a positive addition on your journey to success.


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