The 5 Non-Negotiable Rules for Professional Branding
In this episode of the Jeff Bradbury Show, Jeff shares his 5 Non-Negotiable Rules for Personal and Professional Branding.
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5 Rules of Personal and Professional Branding
Be Hyper Focused
This first one is important and a rule that I often break.
When you are trying to create something that you want people to remember you for, it’s critical that you stay hyper-focused. When a user comes to your website, listens to your podcast, or sees you on Social Media, you want them to instantly connect with not only who you are, but what your message is.
This will help you not only stay on brand but keep you focused on hitting your target avatar.
If you create content in multiple content streams it gets messy and tends to confuse your audience who will eventually grow to expect a certain type of content from you each week.
On TeacherCast, the content is broken down into 5 distinct categories, General EdTech, Instructional Coaching, Website Design, Podcasting, and Build your EDU Brand. It is possible that someone will visit the website interested in learning about all these topics, but more likely that they are visiting for only one topic and not interested in the others. For this reason, I offer them multiple Social Media accounts where they can feel like they are getting the content they are interested in without being bombarded by content they are not interested in.
If you look at many of the larger brands, this same philosophy applies. They might have a Twitter account for their company and an individual Twitter account to support individual applications or programs within the company.
For smaller companies and those just getting started, I don’t recommend this method at all. When starting as a new brand, companies should create a single brand that is memorable, on point with their content and most of all, hyper focused on their company message.
One of the biggest lessons that anyone can learn early on in their brands is the ability to become vulnerable and authentic with their audience. It is extremely difficult to gain a subscriber, attract a podcast listener, or entice a company to work with you. On the other hand, it’s extremely easy for someone to click the unfollow or unsubscribe button and walk away forever.
Have you ever thought about how much time it takes you to gain a follower, a subscriber, or like?
Out of all the 5 Rules, this is the most difficult one to live up to. Being Authentic means being vulnerable. You must put yourself “out there” to your audience in a way that makes them not only know who you are, but care about you enough for them to want to come back to you for added conversations.
For some content creators this is easy. I often see educators at conferences who have a talent for being in front of groups and letting themselves be present in the moment. For me this is scarry.
For the longest time, I put up a wall between myself and my audience. For the first several years of TeacherCast, I even (on purpose) omitted my name from the website. Even to this day, I still refer to TeacherCast as “it” or in the third person. Often, I when asked how the website or podcast is doing, I respond with “it’s going great” or “we are doing some good things together”. In hindsight, this is a defense mechanism to hide how proud I am of my accomplishments and how much I am proud of how many people the podcast has affected over the years.
About 4 years into TeacherCast, I decided to add my name to the sidebar on the front page. This was a BIG STEP and a step that only happened once I met someone at a conference who said something shocking to me. They said, “I listen to your podcast all of the time, but I would never know it was you because you never mention your name on the show.” (#Ouch)
From then on, I decided to be authentic with my audience and to quit playing “radio” on the show. My topics have become more personal. I opened up on the podcast about my job, my family, the triplets, and it brought me closer to my audience and more important, it brought my audience closer to me.
If you are going to be anything to your audience, be authentic.
Have A Story
Audiences connect to people, not to content. If you create a great blog post or author a good book, you may get several people checking it out, but once they get what they need, they will eventually bounce and might never come back. However, if you can find a way to tell your story through your content, your audience will be able to connect not with just what they are trying to consume, but with YOU the content creator.
But what happens if you are just getting started writing content and your story hasn’t been written yet?
If you don’t yet have a strong back story that you wish to share with your audience then don’t be afraid to say just that. Before anyone becomes an expert in their field or at their craft, they are first learners of the subject. Many bloggers, authors, and podcasters start their journey as curious minds who happen to be writing or recording about their favorite topics. If this is your story … then this is YOUR STORY.
When I first started podcasting, I did several shows all about the topic of podcasting and how to be a good podcaster. It wasn’t until many years after those early days that I decided to create an entire podcast, channel, social media feed and Facebook group dedicated to helping others learn the art of educational podcasting. I was first a learner of the subject sharing what I knew. When it was time for me to advance from learner to expert, things changed and so did my story and my message to my community.
So … What is your story?
Think about your favorite soft drink company. What makes them stand out from the pack?
Is it the way that their drink tastes? Maybe … but I bet it’s also the way the product looks, or the packaging they use, or the colors and style of their logos.
Being a consistent content creator means being a consistent content creator everywhere. When you go through the process of creating a brand you take the time to think about your logo, brand colors, fonts, styles, and tone of your product. (and so much more) Consistency is that one thing that makes people remember you.
Consistency, however, doesn’t simply refer to your brand assets. Your audience will grow to expect certain things from your brand. These things might include the frequency of your social media posts, the day of the week you send out your newsletter, and even the topics that you discuss on your podcast.
Consistency is super important when creating your brand kit as well as any content that you produce.
I don’t subscribe to many blogs using my email address. I don’t want unnecessary content to clog up my inbox and for that reason, I have a busy RSS reading application from which I subscribe to my feeds. However, there are some blogs that I wish to have in my inbox the moment they get released. Recently, I noticed that one of my favorite authors, someone who is very influential in the WordPress space started releasing content every day rather than once a week. This did something for me. It made me actually read his content less now that there was more of it in front of me. It actually devalued his message in my eyes to the point that when something new comes in the mail, I almost always read the title and hit the delete button. In the past, I used to read through most of the article in my inbox and eventually click into the actual blog post to see his full post and learn more.
What has changed?
It wasn’t the content. It is all top-notch content about WordPress and marketing. What changed was the rate at which it was being sent out to me. I couldn’t catch up and because I am not able to take the time each day to consume substantial amounts of this bloggers work, I am simply removing it often.
When you start off creating content, it’s important for you to be up front with your audience. A simple statement to your audience sharing how much content they should expect when they subscribe is extremely useful and will help them stay on your brand or make a different decision for themselves.
For example, your blog content might come out each day with an option to subscribe to your daily blog, but your newsletter might be a weekly publication that wraps up all of the written, social, and audio content from the week.
Live Your Brand
Finally we come to a rule that neither you or any company can afford to ignore.
Have you ever seen a speaker get up and do a big presentation and then get off the stage and do a complete 180 when you meet them? You might be thinking “who was that up there and what happened to them when the lights went off?”
If you are hyper-focused on what you are doing, being consistent and authentic about your story then you are on the fast track to living your brand.
From the very beginning of TeacherCast, the tagline “A Place for Teachers to Help Other Teachers” has been glued to the top of each and every page, post, and podcast. The website is essentially a culmination of teachers from around the world coming together to share their thoughts, feelings, and expertise with you the content consumer. My goal is to bring as many thought leaders as I can together to create a product that I hope someone enjoys and wants to visit a second time. (This book is no exception to this rule)
You can’t be the politician who is seen as championing one cause as they turn around and get endorsed by the very companies they just pledged to eliminate on stage. You must live your brand.
Your audience wants to route for you. They want to see you succeed. They want to know what you are going to be posting next because they want to get to know YOU.
But before there is an audience to do just this … you first have to define who that audience is!
Explore these Resources
- Everything You Ever Wanted To Know about Professional Branding
- The Importance of Live Streaming Your Content
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