Personal Brand & Business Etiquette
I work with clients across many industry sectors in Ireland to help them define their personal brand and to communicate that brand effectively to stakeholders and customers.
This branding work applies to people running a one person business to larger businesses. Personal branding applies to all of us no matter what area we are working in. If you have customers for your art, services or products then personal branding is worth looking at.
In this article I am going to look at personal and business branding, why it is important and how it links with business etiquette.
Each of us has a personal brand…[Read more]
Each of us has a personal brand, even if we don’t think about it often. Our personal brand is how we are perceived in the eyes of our colleagues and customers. I think about it as how people that you know, describe you when you are not in the room. In simple terms it is word of mouth.
When word of mouth is positive, it is the best sales tool we have as most people make decisions based on personal recommendations. When it is negative it can be the biggest hindrance to our business growth. If we don’t know what others are saying about us and our business it is a big risk to growing our businesses.
If we want to increase the success of our work we need to understand what we stand for and how we communicate that to others. We also need to understand how we are currently perceived by stakeholders and customers and if there is a gap between where we think we are and how others see us.
The first step in understanding our personal brand is to understand where we are now and where we want to get to. We can do this simply by asking people around us to use three words to describe us and develop a personal brand audit from that feedback or if budget allows, do a customer survey.
Conduct a Personal Brand Audit…[Read more]
The personal brand audit is a simple set of questions that we can use for reflection or as a basis for a discussion with stakeholders and customers.
The Personal Brand Audit questions are:
- What value do I deliver for customers?
- How do customers feel when they work with me or purchase a product from me?
- What facts and symbols do customers associate with me?
- What is my personality like in business?
- How do others describe me?
- Is there a difference between what I stand for and how others currently perceive me?
You can answer these questions by yourself or ask trusted customers, colleagues or peers to answer them as well. When you have the collection of answers you will end up with a number of themes or words that can be used to describe you and the work that you do.
The next step is to choose three of those words that best describe who you are. Those words need to be positive, credible and authentic. They should be important to you and to your customers. The three words form the basis of your brand core or brand essence.You may find in the course of the personal brand audit that some negative words arise. Your focus should be to minimise or eliminate those negatives over the course of a year or so.
The positive brand core is what your main focus will be and it is your job to ensure that you communicate your brand essence on and off line effectively. After deciding on the brand essence you should review your appearance, behaviour and communication. This A.B.C. is the way that we represent our personal brand to others.
Check if you are living your brand…[Read more]
Each of us can check if we are living our brand in the way that we dress for work, in the way we behave with colleagues and clients and how we communicate with others.
Communication is very important and we can check if we are communicating a consistent message across printed materials, PR, our website, our face to face meetings, phone communication and our online presence. The question I ask myself is “does every client interaction have a consistent message?”
If we don’t have a consistent message we can’t expect our clients or potential clients to understand what we stand for or what we can deliver for them in products or services.
If you work with others in your business then the brand essence should be developed in consultation with them so that everyone on the team buys into the brand essence and can communicate it effectively.
So if your enterprise or business is bigger than you, the brand that you develop needs to be inclusive and it grows to become the business brand. Whether developing a personal brand or business brand I would start with the brand audit, then develop the brand essence and then ensure that all of your communication enhances and supports the brand essence.
Linked to the idea of brand essence is business etiquette. Business etiquette is all about how we behave with colleagues and customers.
Etiquette can be defined as the action or actions that we take when we are with others. At the heart of business etiquette is consideration, respect and honesty. We need to have consideration for ourselves and for others, respect for ourselves and others and honesty in our business dealings.
Business etiquette is important for our business growth because all things being equal, people will do business with people that they like. Business is personal.
I do an annual survey of manners in Irish business and the results of this prove that good manners in business are good for business. In the 2011 survey 96% of respondents said they would take action if they were treated well by a business.
- 45% of people would mention their positive experience to other people if they are treated well by a business
- 32% would refer others to a business that has treated them well
- 19% would go out of their way to do business with a company that has treated them well
- Only 4% of people would do nothing if they were treated well by a business.
Some of the other headline results support the case for good business etiquette:
- 94% of respondents value manners in their business dealings
- 70% have been embarrassed by the behaviour of a work colleague
- Nearly half (47%) of respondents would move their business elsewhere if they were on the receiving end of bad manners
- 79% believe that manners are more important in challenging economic times
Where to begin when looking at business etiquette? [Read More]
So where do we begin when looking at our business etiquette? The starting point is to investigate how we interact with customers in face to face meetings, phone and online communications.
Thinking back to your brand essence, are you and your team (if you have a team) putting the customer first, understanding their needs and treating them well? Are you and your team treating customers in a way that you would like to be treated?
Business etiquette is really about the simple things like how quickly we respond to a customer query on the phone or by email, how we respect other peoples time by being punctual for a meeting and how we follow up on promises made.
Every interaction that we have with our stakeholders and customers that the potential to build our reputation. Looking at it another way, every time we don’t meet the expectations of our customers is a missed opportunity to build our brand.
If you are working by yourself or with a team, the starting point is to look at all the ways you interact with customers and to review how well that is being managed at the moment and what the ideal scenario is. Look at the gaps and take action to close the gaps.
In summary, we can all make a positive change to our enterprises by firstly understanding our personal branding better and ensuring that we are communicating a consistent, authentic and relevant message to customers. We can also ensure that we are treating customers as we would like to be treated by reviewing our business etiquette. The brilliant thing about looking at business etiquette is that it is free. There is no cost involved to improve our ways of working. All it takes is the will and motivation to do it.