Five Things Santa Claus Can Teach Us About Personal Branding

This past weekend, my husband and I took our six year old daughter Maia to have breakfast with Santa at Macy’s here in New York City. This is the same Santa you see on TV for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. According to my daughter, he is the REAL Santa and all the others are fakes. She also informed me the police need to be called if there is a fake Santa.

I have to say..meeting him in person makes me a believer,too!!
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Watching my daughter so mesmerized and overflowing with excitement to see Santa again, telling him she was good this year and she wants an Orbeez Foot Spa (Oh joy….2,200 little balls to message your feet), it truly takes a special person to build an iconic personal brand.
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As a personal brand strategist, I wrote last year can we learn a lot about personal branding from Santa?  After all, he has one of the most iconic and recognizable brands in the world, as well as being the very successful CEO of the largest toy production company in the world.

Five Things Santa Can Teach Us About Personal Branding

Whether you believe or not, if you want to build a powerful and very recognizable personal brand, here are five things we can learn from Santa:

1. Compelling Personal Story:  Santa Claus, also known as St. Nicholas, got his start in the 4th century province of the ByzantineAnatolia, now in Turkey. Nicholas was famous for his generous gifts to the poor.  In the 16th century in England, Santa became known as Father Christmas, known for his spirit of good cheer at Christmas, bringing peace, joy, good food, wine, and revelry. Since the 20th century, Santa brings presents to good children once a year on December 24th, the night before Christmas. Also, he has been featured in numerous books, movies, and songs, making his image recognizable to multiple generations.

Lesson: Successful brands take years to build. For people to believe in you, they must be able to connect to you on a deep personal level, knowing you are authentic, and your intentions are true. Although Christmas has become highly commercialized, Santa is respected for not just “chasing the cash”.

2. Clear Brand Message:  Santa is clear on “Who He Is” and “What He Does”. Santa Claus is an expert in secret gift-giving. He brings presents to good children once a year on December 24th. Santa keeps a list of who’s been naughty or nice, and checks it twice. If you’re good, you get a present. If not, you get a lump of coal in your stocking. It’s clear and direct!

Lesson: If people can’t figure out what you do, they are not going to do business with or recommend you. Also, it’s important to be able to set clear boundaries so you can stay focused on what you do best and are most passionate about.

3. Great Team Around Him: To have a great brand, you can’t do it alone. With Santa, he has a whole team of elves that helps him, plus flying reindeers to pull his sleigh. They also look out for Santa in protecting his image and reputation. Santa even accepts diversity, such as Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Santa’s brand is bigger than ever.

Lesson: Ask yourself: Who is watching out for your brand?  Is your support staff willing to think outside the box? A trusted team is critical when building a personal brand. Just like your money, you need to manage and protect your personal brand and online reputation.

4.  Excellent Reputation:  Santa is not “all about himself”. He has a reputation for secret gift-giving and doing well. He is also known as Saint Nicholas, who is the patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, repentant thieves, children, brewers, pawnbrokers, and students in various cities and countries around Europe.

Lesson: Successful personal brands take years to build and seconds to destroy in the court of social media if you’re not careful. When assessing opportunities or posting to social media always ask yourself “does this support my brand and reputation?” Having a reputation that can cross platforms into various fields can also have its advantages.

5.  Jolly Personality:  Santa is known for being a happy, jolly, and very likable person. His positive energy lights up the room and makes people want to be around him. When he meets children, he gives each child his full attention, which makes them feel like they are the only person in the room.

Lesson: Positive energy attracts people. When you make people feel like they are special or take the time to help them with a problem or challenge, they will be your brand ambassadors. Listen carefully to your clients and what they want. When people believe in you, they will share with others “Who You Are”, “What You Do” and “What’s Your Story” and do your marketing for you.

As 2015 comes to a close, enjoy a happy and healthy holiday season. May your personal brand stocking be filled with good will, and here is wishing that 2016 brings great joy and happiness.

About Andria Younger

Andria Younger is a personal brand strategist, blogger, and consultant in New York City. Andria provides personal brand consulting services to entrepreneurs, consultants, CEOs, and founders on how to brand and market themselves as paid experts, as well as coached them how to “play big” in the B2B marketplace. Follow Andria on Twitter.


3 Things Your Website Must Do to Communicate Your Personal Brand

As a Personal Brand Strategist that has worked for entrepreneurs, founders and consultants, I often get asked the question,

“What are the most important things I need to do to communicate my brand on my website?”

If you are in the midst of creating a personal brand or reinventing your brand, it’s critical to remember that this process is all about YOU. Your brand is essentially you telling your story in your own voice. No matter what you are offering to prospective clients, you must be the center of your brand.

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And for those who are looking to position themselves as a paid expert, generate leads for services, or sell products, a website is a must, but only if it is properly branded. When done correctly, it will be the foundational centerpiece of your business to market, promote and monetize your brand.

One person who does this extremely well is Michael Hyatt, who is a virtual mentor, author and professional development expert. He has mastered the art of the personal brand, as you can see here.

Website by Michael Hyatt at www.michaelhyatt.com.

Website by Michael Hyatt at www.michaelhyatt.com.

I really like Michael’s website because it’s clean and simple, and he uses highly quality personal photos that capture his energy. You can immediately see the type of mentor he is from these pictures alone. In addition, the tone is warm, inviting and friendly. And most importantly, his site clearly communicates that he is an expert in personal and professional development, while at the same time showing what his brand stands for.

3 Things Your Website Must Do to Communicate Your Personal Brand

1. Be clear about what you do. Companies and people pay for expertise and accessibility. If a person visits your website and can’t figure out what you do, they are not going to hire, refer, or recommend your services. CLICK! They just moved on! Communicating a consistent brand message across all platforms (print, social, content, speaking and pr/media) is essential to your personal brand strategy. I have found this step alone, being clear and consistent about what you have to offer, has of helped most of my clients to be able to increase their consulting fees by up to 50% in one year alone.

What to Avoid: Don’t just list everything you can do on your website. I see this a lot with my highly accomplished clients. You might think it makes you look impressive, but it comes across as unprofessional, “small player” and, even worse, generalist (the kiss of death for a paid expert).

Tip: Focus in what you enjoy doing vs. everything you can do (there’s a difference). Write down, in five words or less, exactly what you do, and stick to that. For example, “strategic marketing strategist.” It’s simple, clean and to-the-point.

2. Connect on a deeper emotional level. People buy from people. There’s an emotional element to making a purchase or hiring an expert. A website needs to communicate a personal brand that is trustworthy and authentic by connecting to people on a deep, emotional level. This can be done through shared experiences, passions, challenges, and interests.

This is what I call Interest Breeds Authenticity. Think about it. Who would you trust more and hire, someone that shares similar interests, passions and experiences as yourself or someone that just uses generic messaging, buzz words, stock images and the same old same old? Building an emotional connection through shared interests gives you a unique competitive advantage over your competitors, especially when trying to “play big” in the wider marketplace.

What to Avoid: It’s always good to understand what competitors are doing, but don’t let competitors define who you are or what your website looks like. Your website needs to reflect you who are as a person. It should showcase your unique perspectives, skills and talents.

Tip: Do you share a common interest, passion, or hobby with your clients and target market? One of my former clients, Jonathan B. Smith, is a high- growth business expert, author of Optimize for Growth: How to Scale Up Your Business, Your Network and You, as well as a pilot. I was able to combine his business expertise with his love of flying into beautiful, captivating homepage images that showcased both his personal and professional sides. We also worked on creating a blog post connecting flying to scaling up businesses, which made him stand out from his competitors in a unique way.

Website by Jonathan B. Smith at www.chiefoptimizer.com

Website by Jonathan B. Smith at www.chiefoptimizer.com

3. What is the story behind your brand? Personal branding is all about telling your story in your own voice. It’s important to share the story of how you become an expert or authority in your field, or what brought you into this particular business in the first place. You also want to share the mission of your brand, particularly if it’s personally motivated. And don’t just do this once. Its important to tell your story in a variety of ways across different platforms such as videos, photos, blogs, podcasts or on your website.

What to avoid: While you want your website to be personal, you need to be careful not to share too much information in a way that could jeopardize your reputation. Only share personal and professional experiences that tie directly to what you are trying to accomplish with your business and leave the posts of your most recent vacation or night on the town to your private accounts.

Tip: For inspiration on how to use storytelling as part of your branding strategy, look at other websites outside of your industry. Can you incorporate some of their storytelling styles and branding elements into your own website? For example, a leadership development strategist might look at websites of top celebrity wedding planners.

Remember, when it comes to developing a successful personal brand strategy to monetize your expertise and “play big” in the marketplace, it’s important to develop a personal brand strategy for your website which clearly communicates who you are, what you do and why you’re different. It’s that personal connection through your website which is going to set you apart from your competition, position you as a “go to” expert and put you on your way to building a successful personal brand.

Question: What is your personal story of how you became an expert? Share your answers on LinkedIn or Twitter.

About Andria Younger

Andria Younger is a personal brand strategist.  Andria provides personal brand consulting services to entrepreneurs, consultants, CEOs, and founders on how to brand and market themselves as paid experts, as well as coached them how to “play big” in the B2B marketplace. Follow Andria on Twitter or read her personal brand blog at andriayounger.com.


What Does Your Email Branding Say About You

We all send out tons of emails to clients, service partners, connecting with peers, perspective clients, or follow-ups on leads. If you don’t have a branded look for your email signature, you are missing an opportunity to showcase your expertise, make new connections, and generate leads for your service or product.

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If you do not have an effective, branded email signature, people may interpret you as not being professional, a small player in the market, or worse they may think your content is SPAM email.

What message are you sending?

As a personal brand strategist who works with entrepreneurs, consultants, CEOs, and founders to brand and position themselves as paid experts in their industry, coaching them on how to “play big” in the B2B marketplace, I’m shocked at the number of emails I receive with only a first name. First impressions count in this crazy digital world we live in.

A branded email signature is a simple and quick place to start to create your own visual personal brand identity as a paid expert, “play big”, as well as standout from the competition.

Why is this important?

Here’s what happened to me over the summer. I attended the Small Business Expo 2015 here in New York City. Entrepreneurs are one of my target markets. One of the most popular events was the speed networking session (i.e. speed dating for entrepreneurs). You meet with a fellow entrepreneur every 5 minutes. Crazy! I must have met with over 40 fellow entrepreneurs during this event. When I followed-up to request a face-to-face meeting with a potential service partner, I instantly received a reply back. He said, “Your signature is great…I remember you and would definitely like to meet”. The result, I found a great service partner who can help my clients market their products and services, as well as cross-refer each other business.

Create a Visual Branded Identity for Email in 5 Minutes

Below is simple personal brand strategy for you to follow to create your own visual brand for email in 5 minutes. This is what has worked for my clients, and myself.

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  1. Sign up for Wisestamp.com – It’s my “go to” branding tool to create a strong branded signature for email. I’ve used it for over three years. It’s simple and easy to use. Interfaces great with Gmail, AOL, and Yahoo Mail. They offer a free version, but I use the upgraded version, which allows for greater customization. Or if you are tech savvy and can deal with their limitations, you can design your own signature for free in your email program’s signature field settings.

  2. Key Information – You will need a professional avatar/headshot. The following key information should be listed in your email signature: full names with credentials, expertise/title, phone number, email address, website address with link, link to social media accounts, as well as link to content (i.e, blog, ebook, book, webinar, etc.). If you don’t have any original content, maybe link to an article/blog post you think people may find helpful. You want to position yourself as a resource or “go to” person to help solve problems or provide solutions. Also, when it comes to linking to social media accounts, a LinkedIn account is a must.

  3. Turn Signature On – Turn your email signature setting on and start sending and replying to those emails.

Remember, when it comes to developing a successful personal brand strategy to monetize your expertise and “play big” in the marketplace, one action you can do today is create a visual brand for your email. It’s that personal connection through email which is going to set you apart from your competition, position you as a “go to” expert, and put you on your way to building a successful personal brand.

Questions: What message are you sending with your email signature? How else can you stand out from the competition? Share your answers on Twitter or Linkedin.

About Andria Younger

Andria Younger is a personal brand strategist.  Andria provides personal brand consulting services to entrepreneurs, consultants, CEO, and founders on how to monetize their expertise and build their online reputation, as well as coached them how to “play big” in the B2B marketplace.  Follow Andria on Twitter.


Personal Brand Narratives Matter When Seeking Angel Investors

Shark Tank is a show which can be highly instructive to those seeking angel investors. There are sensible reasons the “Sharks” don’t “bite” on a concept. A product can simply be something they are not interested in. Maybe they can’t get excited about the idea because they don’t feel a personal connection, or the concept founder comes across as too indecisive or arrogant. Guess what? The same thing can happen when seeking angel investors for your great idea.

MARK CUBAN, DAYMOND JOHN, KEVIN O'LEARY, BARBARA CORCORAN, ROBERT HERJAVEC, DEREK PACQUƒ AND ASHTON CHAFFEE (COATCHEX)

As a personal brand strategist who helps founders develop a personal brand strategy and narrative to attract investors, I’m a strong believer that Interest Breeds Authenticity. A founder can instantly build a bond with a prospective investor if they have a compelling story, and have done their homework so they have their best opportunity to connect.

Why is building an emotional connection to the investor important?

Unlike in a Series A or B funding round, in the initial investing stage, there is usually not much for the angel investor to go on…an idea, maybe proof of concept, a pitch deck…what they primarily have is YOU, the founder. It’s often the investor’s emotional connection to the founder, their gut instinct, which can be the deciding factor to “invest” or “not to invest”.

Recently, I attended StartUpOneStop Breakfast with an Angel. I asked Mike Edelhart, an angel investor and lead partner at SocialStart, how much does the investor’s emotional connection or intuition play in deciding to invest? He said, “It’s critical.” He went on to say that investors are watching hundreds of pitches, so founders need to find a way to stand out from the competition to gain an investor’s attention. He also cautioned attendees that it’s not all about the technology. Mike shared how some founders get so focused on creating the perfect pitch deck, they never share anything about themselves nor engage investors by asking questions, which comes across as being self-absorbed and unaware. He brought up that making an emotional connection is crucial, sometimes even more important than the concept itself. Your idea might not be the greatest, but if you make a great impression with investors, they may think of you when another opportunity arises. At the end of the day, Investors Invest in People.

Three Ways Founders Strike Out with Investors

You get one turn at bat to pitch your idea. As a personal brand strategist, it is my job to help my clients tap into their unique perspectives, skills, talents, and expertise to help form a brand narrative that is clear, compelling, and positions them as an expert, and is true to who they are. I find there are three main reason founders swing and miss, and strike out with investors:

  1. Clarity: A founder may be a great technologist or practitioner, but when talking about what they do, they focus on technology or process over content. Many people don’t clearly communicate who they are and their story in a simple, compelling manner which people can understand and relate.

  2. Reluctance: Some people don’t share anything about their personal story because they are not used to exposing their inner-self. People can be too modest or afraid to share their accomplishments, discount or not explain their life experiences. A startup is emotionally, physically, and financially stressful. How well you dealt with failure or overcame adversity is just as important to the investor as proof of success. Sharing personal experiences should tie directly to what you are trying to accomplish with your business.

  3. Chasers: Some people can come across as money grabbing. A hyperfocus on chasing the cash can be perceived as being self-absorbed, self-centered, and lacking the leadership skills necessary. On the other side of the coin, Angels can sense when someone is making fear-based decisions and comes across as being indecisive and lacking confidence. There is a fine line between an effective leader and someone who is asking for investors for the wrong reasons.

Building the Connection

It all starts with having a clear personal brand strategy and narrative focused around who you are, what you do, and what’s your story. As a founder, you must be prepared to pitch anytime and anywhere to anyone who can recommend, refer, or invest in your business. You connect emotionally through shared interests, experiences, or passions. If you stand out from the competition, an investor will listen and take notice of what you are pitching. We all have unique experiences and stories about how we got to where we are today. For example, maybe you are a pilot, a veteran, suffered a traumatic career set-back, or survived a life-threatening accident or illness. Perhaps you come from a family of entrepreneurs, or went to the same university as the investor, overcame a learning disorder, or have family that has personally invested in your idea. These are emotional hooks that make people take time to listen, and want to help or invest in your business.

Do Your Research

Take the time to practice your pitch. Test it out with others. Can someone who has minimal knowledge of your concept get it? Practice with test subjects to see if they make a connection with you during your presentation. Note what increases interest, and when people are tuning out. Listen to the questions others ask about your concept. Odds are, if a test subject has a question, an angel investor will probably have the same question. Watch a little Shark Tank. See how other founders bond with the Sharks, how they stand out in the ocean as prime catches. A little research can help you reel in your angel, and make it big.

Frankly, if you can connect to investors on a very deep emotional level and make the investor get a little teary-eyed…. even better. Remember, an investor is taking a big risk on YOU. Therefore, you need to show proof you have the ability, drive, understanding, and stamina to overcome future adversity and go the distance to see a business succeed.

Questions: Do you get the blank look stare when you pitch your idea, or are investors on the edge of their seats? What is your process in doing research on investors’ backgrounds to find common interests and passions? Share your answers on Twitter or Linkedin.

About Andria Younger

Andria Younger is a personal brand strategist.  Andria provides personal brand consulting services to entrepreneurs, consultants, CEO, and founders on how to monetize their expertise and build their online reputation.  Follow Andria on Twitter.


What do you want to know about personal branding?

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Each week I get many inquiries from entrepreneurs, business authors, and consultants about how to brand and position themselves as paid experts in the B2B marketplace. Some FAQs I’ve received include:

What are the steps I need to take to brand and position myself as an expert?

How do I monetize my personal brand?

How do I figure out my target market?

How did I take a business author from $300K to $2 million in three years?

If I’m employed full time, can I brand and position myself as a paid expert while still working?

Do I need to have a website?

How do I market myself as a paid expert?

How do I get into the professional speaking business?

Do I need to write a book?

…and the list goes on. I love the input because I’m very passionate about helping individuals tap into the power of their personal brand and play big in the B2B marketplace. I want to learn how I can better help you better create, build, and monetize your personal brand.

So, what burning questions do you have about branding and positioning yourself as a paid expert?

 Click and send me your questions!

 


Sucking at Relationships….Take Aways from Bethenny Frankel’s AOL Build Series Interview

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As a personal brand strategist and founder of Cre8iv Branding, I’m always on the look out for successful personal brand stories.  This week I was at the AOL Build Series, a live interview, where Bethenny Frankel, entrepreneur, reality TV personality, and NY Times Bestselling author, was talking about her new book I Suck at Relationships So You Don’t Have To: 10 Rules for Not Screwing Up Your Happily Ever After.

“Yes, my name is Andria Younger and I’m a Bravo reality TV addict.”

Over the years of watching Bravo, I’ve seen Bethenny Frankel go from being a struggling entrepreneur on Bravo’s Housewives of New York, living in a studio apartment on the Upper East Side, doing the hustle to launch her Skinny Girl brand, writing and promoting her four NY Times best-selling books, to selling her Skinny Girl Cocktail line to Jim Beam for a reported $50 million. This is the same person that Martha Stewart herself proclaimed that Bethenny would never amount to anything.

As a personal brand strategist, Bethenny Frankel has done an incredible job in creating and monetizing a successful personal brand…books, TV, appearances, and products. She’s worked it! Besides being a great marketer, I think what Bethenny does best is connecting to her fans and customers on a deep emotional level. She’s clear on who she is, what she does, what’s her story, allowing her fans to connect and relate to her on a very deep emotional level. This is what I call “Riding the Lightning Bolt”, when you are able to leverage and monetize your personal brand to grow your business, while your customer and client feel connected to you on a deep emotional and personal level. What you see on TV is what you get in person…. she’s open and honest, not afraid to express her opinions. As she admits, even in wake of her very public and nasty divorce and the “haters” attacking her, she still keeps it real and stays true to her personal brand.

Bethenny’s latest book I Suck at Relationships So You Don’t Have To is about her being open and honest that personal relationships have been a problem. From the interview, here are three things that I took away that can be applied to help you build your personal brand and reputation:

1) Know Thy Self.  Sometimes we say and do things based on emotion, which can make for a big emotional mess which needs to be cleaned up in our relationships. This can lead to over-analyzing, beating yourself up, and undermining your confidence. You can’t fix what you don’t acknowledge. It’s important to learn when and how to talk about what you see and are feeling so it doesn’t come back and bite you in your butt, giving toxic people ammunition. For Bethenny, she knows she can talk herself into a really emotional place, obsessing and feeling needy, which has resulted in her having to cleanup emotional messes. This is her truth. From a branding perspective, the more you know about yourself allows you to set clear boundaries on “what you do” and surround yourself with the right people that are supportive and energize you.

2) Let Go.Our past life experiences have a strong impact on our personal and professional relationships and can lead us to feel like we need to control everything in our life. For example, Bethenny is very open about growing up in an abusive environment, feeling abandoned by her father, and moving 12 times in her childhood. This left her with the need to control things. Its important to harness control and use it for good, but it has a negative impact when you feel the need to control everything and everybody around you. From a reputation standpoint, you can be seen, as over-controlling to the point where you are personally miserable and that you are “out of control”.

3) Stop Making Fear-Based Decisions. Are you making decisions based on fear, such as not having enough money, being alone, not getting enough clients, or perfectionism? I think we all have done this as some point in our personal or professional lives. As Bethenny says “fear distracts you from the truth, and you will never know if your decision was the right one if you made it out of fear.” For example, if you have a fear of not having enough money, this can lead you to form “crazy client relationships” with people that don’t respect or value your expertise, as well as people who “suck all your time and energy out of you.” This can prevent you from growing your business. Or, worst case, these people damage your reputation by sharing negative comments about you to others either in person or via social media.

Are you ready to take your personal brand to the next level?  If so, it’s important to assess all your relationships and ask yourself….do they support my personal brand?  If not, maybe its time to move on.  For my clients who are paid experts, its essential to build healthy and meaningful relationships with people who can refer, recommend, and hire your services.   Life is too short to surround or work for people who don’t respect or value your expertise.  I hope this blog post has given you some inspiration to play big.

  • Do current relationships support your personal brand?

  • Do you have a personal brand success story your want to share?


Free Live Personal Branding Webinar on March 26th

Are you an entrepreneur, author, or consultant who knows how to solve big problems for the B2B marketplace?   The thought of branding oneself can simply be overwhelming.   From websites to social media, you see all of the potential and opportunity yet are struggling with the right starting point.  Join Andria Younger on March 26th at 2pm ET for a Free Live Webinar: Silent Branding Tactics to Play Big in the B2B Marketplace..  Andria will share silent branding tactics for entrepreneurs, authors, and consultants to “Play Big” in the B2B marketplace.

Your Going To Learn…

— How our clients have been able to increase their fees over 50% within a year.

— 10 silent branding tactics you can use to position yourself as the “Go To” company

— What NOT to spend money on

Reserve Your Spot!