For small business owners, personal branding seems to be all the rage nowadays. It differs from company branding in that you, the business owner, are the face of your company, not your logo or your website so much. After all, people do business with you, not your company, and even though you may have a team within your company that helps you get things done, the responsibility and the end product are a reflection of what you stand for.
This seems like a natural evolution after a recession that forced so many comfortable long-term employees out into the cold with nowhere to go but within themselves to find what they could do to support themselves and make their mark on this world.
But, I digress.
I’ve been promoting personal branding ever since I started Big Eye Media back in 2006. One of my first big jobs was to create a series of personal brochures for members of a mortgage company. I spent a day at their office on a photo shoot, conceptualizing and posing for images that were fun and far beyond the typical head shot.
They liked me. They put out a spread of jambalaya and tons of food that makes my mouth water just thinking about it. I felt important.
Each brochure was different to reflect the personality of the member, but each had a common denominator that tied them all together: the company logo and information. Each individual message reflected what the member stood for: money, personal service, or whatever they saw as their “USP.” I carried over their “look” and their message to their business cards as well.
The company was a startup so they did not have much cash flow, but my clients knew the importance of professionalism and presentation, and they were ready to invest in themselves. I respected that and came up with ways to save them A LOT of money over the plan of action they had originally set forth.
For that they loved me.
And for what I produced for them, they loved me even more. When I would stop by to deliver the end product, one guy would hit the floor and start doing pushups. It was a party every time. And, I have to say, when a client is that appreciative, it makes you want to go far above and beyond to serve them.
Even after that job was completed, they used me to create posters for their speaking engagements and anything else they needed. I was their source of all their marketing materials. It just seemed natural because I knew what each individual stood for and I was able to put forth their best attributes in whatever I created. We had a long-term relationship. Even after the “bubble” burst and their company fell apart, several of the members kept in touch for other initiatives they had started.
But, the recession was too cruel on the industries they were involved in, and we eventually lost touch. I think about them often. After all, I have samples of their brochures in my portfolio that remind me of each of them and how driven they were to help people achieve their dreams of home ownership.
And I miss them.
I hope they are out there somewhere, happy and living successful lives. After all, they gave me my first big break early on as an entrepreneur. Working for them shaped what Big Eye Media had become, and from that I shaped my message to my clients: Promote yourself and what you stand for, not so much what you do.
So, yes, I’ve been promoting personal branding since 2006. I was way ahead of the curve back then, and I thank my clients at that mortgage company for leading me there.