“5 Ways To Brand Your Successful Company Before You Have One”
Writing for blogs, websites, newspapers, and journals is a great branding technique. In addition to the readability of your worldviews, online and print media typically include a blurb about the author. Contributing authors can provide a compelling snapshot of their personal and company/organization brand within the guidelines of their character limit. Writing also allows authors more time and flexibility to organize their thoughts and to plan their communication style to others. During in-person conversations, we must have both nonverbal and verbal communication acumen. For example, someone’s mouth may be conveying one idea while his/her folded arms may be saying something else.
In addition to branding through communicating one’s thoughts, professionals must be bilingual by speaking the language of business people – writing. Many, if not all, information is saved and transmitted through digital and print methods of communication. In addition to legal transactions and proceedings, business people are required to provide documentation of any text, images, or concepts that constitute one’s brand.
Altogether, writing is important to create your brand and to communicate your brand to others.
2. Get Active on LinkedIn
LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) is a compartmentalized, user-friendly, way to brand yourself and your company/organization. In my opinion, LinkedIn is the most professional social media platform for your resume/professional accomplishments. With features such as being able to endorse and recommend your LinkedIn connections, there are several ways to facilitate your strategic branding. One way to increase your brand visibility is to endorse your LinkedIn connections on their “Skills”, especially those areas that are low in number. People will view your LinkedIn profile based on your endorsement on the “Skills” section of others’ profiles. Moreover, when there are less endorsements, your page visibility is increased. However, the drawback is that this person’s pageviews and number of LinkedIn connections are also low since no one is endorsing them. Likewise, listing too many “Skills” on your LinkedIn profile also accounts for low endorsements. Choose five skills that are succinct, and easy to understand for viewers who checked out your page. Simply put, the more endorsements that you have, the better. The less skills you list, the more endorsements you will have since it will take less effort to validate your know-how.
Another way to increase your brand visibility is to write recommendations for your LinkedIn connections. However, I highly recommend that you practice writing recommendations before posting them to your own or others’ page. Remember other people view our brand based on what we write, say, and do. So ensure your ideal first impression by proofreading your writing for grammatical mistakes. To ensure your readability, ask for feedback at little to no-cost from a trustworthy writer that you know. Writing recommendations for your LinkedIn connections is invaluable for three purposes: 1) you get to enhance your writing skills, which are essential for every professional, 2) you increase your brand presence through someone’s LinkedIn profile and last but not certainly least, 3) people learn more about how well you work with others. So when someone requests a recommendation through those nifty pre-written recommendation LinkedIn messages, get excited about this opportunity for strategic branding. Conversely, whenever someone offers to write a recommendation to add to my LinkedIn profile, I ask myself the following questions: Can this person write an inspiring narrative to highlight my skills and expertise? Would you want him/her to do so? What is his/her reputation?
In other words, both writing and receiving LinkedIn recommendations will increase your brand visibility.
3. Join a Board of Directors (BOD)
Often times, organizations will list their BOD on their company website. This is a great way to market yourself and brand your company name and mission, especially if your website is up and running and listed on the named organization’s website. In addition, when the organization has special events, BOD members are often acknowledged along with their associated company/organization. Professionals are recruited as BOD members based on their potential support of a company’s organizational vision, mission, and values. BOD members are viewed as invaluable sources of experts on particular industries, or companies/organizations. Both budding and well-seasoned professionals must take advantage of opportunities to strategically brand themselves and/or their company/organization. When I was recruited to join the Board of Directors at a Philadelphia-based public health non-profit organization called Bebashi- Transition to Hope, I asked myself, “What transferable skills do I have to offer to a successful company?”
After I pondered over my natural abilities, I realized that the better question to ask myself was, “How do other people view me?” On a piece of paper, I inventoried the recurrent themes in my past conversations, interviews, recommendation letters, and compliments from other people. Simply put, people recognize my skills of program development, community outreach, and corporate branding. As an aside, I made sure that my LinkedIn “Skills” section was consistent with this epiphany. While we are the best experts on our own skills and expertise, our brand is the average of what others say and what we say about ourselves. I accepted a position on the Nominating Committee at Bebashi to gain additional experience that was consistent with my brand. The more active you are on a BOD, the more branding exposure you will gain. Similarly, the more you do for others, the more they will do for you.
Find out what you’re passionate about by volunteering at different events. Similarly, you can grow your opportunities to do the work that you’re passionate about by volunteering. Skills-based volunteering (pro bono consulting) can become a branding opportunity when you invest in refining what you do. Think back to the time before the internet (yes that age actually existed), people who achieved international notoriety accomplished this through the best method of marketing and advertising possible – word of mouth branding. Research suggests that we tend to trust who trustworthy people deemed trustful (are you still with me?). So when someone trustworthy recommends your awesome skills/services to others, voila! You are on your way to doing big things!
Conversely, non-skills-based volunteering at events that interest you can also transform into a branding opportunity. When you pique others’ interest through your reason for volunteering (i.e., your why) at said event, they want to know more about you. This is a window of opportunity to tell others about your brand, whether that be who are you individually, or the vision, mission, and values of your company/organization. Your interest in others also grows their curiosity in you, so convince people of your excitement about their passion. At best, you have solidified a new business partner, or BOD member, volunteer, or donor, if not all three. At worse, you have just used some elbow grease to initiate a conversation about you to others. In my book, that is also known as word of mouth branding.
5. Do the Work
There is no way around doing the big things that you say you do. Regardless of whether you are a social entrepreneur creating business solutions for social problems like I am, people want to see examples of your work. After more than three years of running my benefit corporation called WeDoBigThings, I can attest that the time will never be perfect to start impacting the world around you. Doing the work means different things for people- writing, acting, or social impact engineering. You may be wondering, “What’s the common theme among all people who actualized their dream?” – they never quit trying new ideas. I remember riding in a car listening to an audiobook of The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho with a friend around the summer season of 2013. I said to my friend, “Man I wish that the voices of people who read audio books were more lively.” My friend replied, “Well why don’t you create your own audiobook then?” So for several months I organized and planned with two other motivational speakers to realize an audiobook compilation during the coming winter. Basically, we quit the plan and never released the audiobook. Often times, we set lofty goals and then quit before making them a reality.
Furthermore, the only reason that our dreams are not made a reality is if we create ideas to kill our vision. As Kevin Hart would say, the way that our minds are set up…we learn from experience. Positive outcomes encourage us whereas negative outcomes have the potential to deter us. But, we can use the power of thought to our advantage. Negative outcomes are the best teachable moments for several reasons: 1) we can become uncomfortable enough with an unfavorable outcome that we are motivated to change, 2) there are countless role models and success stories of people who “failed” until they got it right, and lastly, 3) people who have had similar pathways to their success will support the work you do by offering resources and encouragement to persevere.