brand advocacy, branding, Business, Business-Of-One, Personal Brand, Personal Branding: You and more, Self marketing, Solopreneur

Here’s How You Can Improve Your Brand Narrative

As a firm or a business-of-your-own, you are to create an even voice of your brand that resonates with your brand’s value system, culture, attributes, soul. And while it’s trite to say that your customers are the ones who pay for your brand’s offerings, but there’s more to a definition of a customer than what we think it fundamentally is.

In today’s co-create economy, your business will profit from innovative and strategic collaboration, as rightly mentioned in the book, ‘Co-Create authored by David Nour. And what does this imply for defining your brand’s customers?

Your supply partners, investors, literal customers, employees, the media – everyone who experiences your brand’s value – all are your customers, as they consume and buy into your offerings.

Now that we know who these customers [aka key stakeholders] of your brand’s value are, here are two ways in which you can solidify your brand narrative with a holistic outlook towards your organization and your larger ecosystem in which your brand operates.

  • Deepen your existing stakeholder relationships. Your brand’s internal and stakeholders are already experiencing your brand’s value in some form, so why not deepen the loyalty with them to understand their perspective about your organization to co-create value that is more impactful than just mere product/ service value that your offer? It’s no more about product/ service attributes and fancy value prepositions that don’t serve the longevity of your brand’s stickiness among your customers. It’s about contextualizing your narrative that speaks your stakeholders’ minds. Think like your stakeholders –and soon your stakeholders will be in the ‘loop’ of creating a succession of your brand’s journey in the form of an experiential brand narrative. In the book, David Nour talks about reverse perspective – seeing the world through other’s eyes. For example, Hoplamazium triggered a profound shift in the way hotels conventionally refer their customers as guests, however, to think more deeply, the hotels are the guests in your lives. And this is precisely how you should imagine how your brand communicates internally and externally: through relational focus and customer-driven thinking and experience journey.

 

  • Focus on building the creative capacity of your employees. Seek buy-in from your employees across silos and business units to contribute their employee journey experience. Not many employees feel ‘inclusive’ or a part of something in which they can exercise their personal creative capacity to narrate their brand experience with your organization. Google does this brilliantly by helping its employees allocate a percentage of time in pursuing their passion projects. Result? Positive company reviews, more and better talent attraction, improved brand influence – and all things ‘earned’ through creative freedom for [its] employees. So, enable a way in which your employees become your best brand narrators: that helps your brand’s intent to illuminate in your business goals, aspirations – and most importantly, in your ‘Why.’ Even if you are a solopreneur, it starts with your ‘Why,’ and then follow these two points in the context of your business and economics.

 

That said, your brand narrative is not about you, but about how your ‘Why’ can make the ‘How’ of your value consumers more simplified and useful.

In what ways are you improving your brand narrative?

brand advocacy, branding, Business, employee advocacy

Why Employee Brand Advocacy Matters

As a business owner or a relative senior role you play, what your employees say about you and your organisation is crucial.

In part because you have done your job of embedding the culture, values and work ethic you want your organisation to follow, but how that is spread  – wide and vast – depends on your employees.

Be it your customer service reps, to sales reps, to brand managers , among others – everyone has a role to play in creating a likeable working culture that best defines your organisation’s work motto.

When you notice the way LinkedIn employees have diverse ways of expressing how they manage and lead talent in the new-age  digital leading world [that’s my way of putting it] – you get the point. You’d be charmed by the way all of the LinkedIn employees, not matter how much culturally diverse, are so synched in with one common purpose of making LinkedIn so inclusive and educationally enriching in binding global talent together on one platform.

That is how singularly you can lead your organisation to create a culture that lets your employees ‘speak up and be listened to,’ to really feel a part of something purposeful and inclusive.

Every employee – irrespective of the role or designation – has a personal, unique voice that spreads faster on the Web that you can think. Think Glassdoor (particularly), and other forums (like Quora) where people can air out their grievances/ professional/ cultural glitches – and you will be left with an unending array of painful voices that could have rather been listened to and parlayed into constructing something through a positive narrative for your organisation.

As per a study conducted by MSL Group, social media posts shared by employees reach 561% further than the same post shared by the company. Takeaway? Let your employees chime in with their opinion on your products, services and culture – and you can build your own version of ‘LinkedIn-inspired’ platform though consistent employee brand advocacy.

That said, is building employee advocacy all that easy? It’s simple, though.

It goes down as deep as the soul of your brand: to how the brand’s value systems, attributes and persona communicate to the external ecosystem from within the contours of your brand’s story. Each individual who starts the brand journey with or without counterparts becomes a significant signpost of the overarching brand message you want to create, share and advocate for. As consistently the message forms  and moves through each signpost, the message becomes the very reason for your brand’s existence and manifestation. And this is precisely how employee brand advocacy is built.

All companies – small or legacy corporation – are built from within : their soul, their message, their resilience, and their story. This, then, translates into a steady stream of content that you consume on the Web – and employees are a huge part of that positive brand story-telling through their own personal experiences, personal branding strategies and overall meaning they deduce via working for your organisation.

So, pay heed to what your employees say: perhaps the project where your client wants to learn how you can build thought leadership better for them or not rests on how well your employees have build a solidified brand narrative internally. Now isn’t that a ready proof-point to showcase how well-churned out advocacy program is run in your organisation?

Never underestimate the power of employee advocacy: it’s not just mere documentation of what your company performs on various levers – internally and externally. It can get tangible business results for your company – in the form of external funding, new partnership opportunities, new customers and even upending the existing ones, and relevant PR as well.

How crucial is employee advocacy in your organisation?

And how are you harnessing it to see people and business results?

 

Brand Experience, branding, Business, Business-Of-One

The Key To Building A Great Culture [Whether You Are A Startup Or Not]

Having a great organizational culture is the hallmark of personal branding – on an organization level and individual level, as well.

But how is this culture set in, in an organization, and then uproots on an individual level, too?

While I have mentioned value system is the indicator of how well your company responds internally (to your employees and internal stakeholders), and externally (to your suppliers, customers, partners and market in general), however accepting and responding to bleep-ups – aka – failures, is the radical part to deal with.

Whether you are a start-up or starting up laterally in a company, or chasing your true north in a professional/ business set-up, you need to understand failure better. By better, I mean, debriefing yourself and your company about how you, if not fully correct your course, but tinker and try until you settle in with a path that traverses such detours strategically.

A thriving culture is often – or rather – resultant of massive failures. This doesn’t connote that your leadership is not astute or fairly strategic; it’s often the opposite. Since culture starts from the top [or ideally, for that matter] and then permeates into the whole business unit, a failure-readiness and strategic responsiveness is crucial.

This is where a culture is germinated: of being humble, agile, nimble, and collaborative. When you set up a company and dare to fail [ dare to suck is just too bad to put, though, but sometimes yes], you implicitly allow your employees to embrace their respective vulnerabilities and work more effectively once they learn what worked in specificity, and what didn’t quite shape up in the bigger scheme of things.

Failure underpins how much ‘grit’ is ingrained in your cultural DNA. And that’s the real game-changer: when your employees think creatively/ laterally on how to work out solutions.

A collaborative working environment can be conducive to bringing about a more positive culture. Rather than adopting a hierarchical approach, staff are treated equal. Communication is fluid. Any animosities can be more proactively extinguished and the entire team can work uniformly to the set goals.

That said, you are going to see more failures behind a massive, flamboyant success – given the way new ideas are sprucing up and trying to fit the bill of a viable business model – be it as a startup or a legacy corporation.

It’s your ability to respond to failures that will set the tone of your organization’s success.

Think success. Execute – and fail better, faster. You will eventually build a culture that is built to deliver and keep promises ( as they are more sacred).

On that note, welcome 2018!

 

Brand Experience, branding, Entrepreneur, Personal Branding: You and more

One Best Tip For A Lasting Personal Branding Success

Without further ado, it’s patience.

You can’t build a brand in a jiffy. And you can’t program your mind to function on short-term gains that could potentially thwart your brand’s image in the market.

So how can patience serve as a mechanism to achieve your personal branding goals – be it whatever field you are in?

It’s through consistent observations of people, of undying and un-fleeting, fundamental emotions that people love to react/ act to; and of course, it’s your knowledge that can fill the business void through such social and emotional, motivational drivers.

When you eye your market ahead of time through incredible patience and observation, your basic analytical ability is further enhanced with a blend of tunnel-like vision and best operational hustle – to think long-lasting and sustainable.

I listen to Gary Vaynerchuk talk about this all the time – which sounds eternally true when you are looking to build a promising, well-hedged personal brand.

Trust me, it takes more than just launching your personal Web site and a few blog posts with some sizzling promotional offers of selling your branding [ business] package. You need to constantly iterate your content strategy, tinker a tad bit more than what your competitors do; study and learn from e-mails you receive to understand what is genuinely selling versus what’s just a cupcake-business-model that just spirals down before you even knew it existed.

What’s the underlying, governing term to summarize this spiel? It’s patience. And a crazy amount of it when you dig your mind to find answers to what your audience really need versus what they want.

So be patient; put out content that best resonates with your communication style and tonality and practice business intuition by being patient and observant.

I wish everyone a beautiful Christmas that paves way for a patience-centric, hardworking and a focused 2018 to all my readers.

PS: Going forward, you will be receiving my blog post every Sunday as that’s when I love to just think and share my thoughts with you.

branding, Personal Brand, Personal Branding: You and more

Don’t Be A Clone

My workplace with yellow notes

When I listened to Akshay Kothari’s, Head of LinkedIn India, conversation with Kunal Shah, Founder of FreeCharge, it was such a revelation of how startups are sometimes cloning the West when coming up with business models to get funding.

And so can be true for your personal brand as well; after all many, early stage startups have only founders/ entrepreneurs with limited cash to run their business show in the startup ecosystem. And all that they have is their values, achingly well-prepared business spiel to convince the investors, and their thought leadership.

But what seems a little ‘clone(y)’ is how they simply learn some successful business models from the Bay area [categorically] or the West [generally] without understanding the economic context or a viable business purpose. For example, Kunal rightly mentioned in his interaction with Akshay that we can’t have laundry apps in India vis-a-vis the West.

The same logic is apt for building your personal brand – you have to have your own voice with your own rationale behind your perspective. Don’t just simply regurgitate on what is being poured on the Web. Figure out ‘why’ people will value your perspective; understand your audience in the most nuanced form to decipher what they truly expect from you as a brand.

You are a mining of your own consumption of (audience-centric) information – and that is how you can blend into your brand narrative with your business model to churn something fresh, if not novel. Air out this ‘blend’ by writing contextual blog posts, videos, articles – or whatever your audience like to ‘snack’ on when they need valuable, personalized information.

People, including investors, are looking at establishing trust in you and your business, and this is solidified when you bring out a radical yet doable context in your business and brand: of believing [backed by facts and intuition] on why you are there for the long-haul.

So think of your business as an extension of your personal brand – and not a spin-off (no matter how fancy this word sounds).

It’s great to keep learning, unlearning and relearning how businesses are built and how brands story-tell, but the purpose of such education is to find a teacher in yourself and find your own inspiration to create something unique to you.

And that is why personal branding is not about proclaiming what you are good at, it is about finding yourself amid a pool of me-too people, and going all-in, consumed, in your purpose.

Don’t be a clone. Be yourself.

That’s all for now.

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