Guest Voice. Taking A Look At Brand ‘You’

I’d been thinking about the subject of personal power and identity and the part it plays in your career pivot adventure.

As I pondered away, it struck me that, when it comes to personal branding and positioning, there are plenty of great lessons to be learnt from the world of business.

With this in mind I got on the phone to one of my business buddies who I knew had plenty of interesting insights into the subject of branding and positioning.

He kindly said, yes. Hurrah!

So it gives me great pleasure to introduce you to…

Mark Vaesen

About Mark: I run Tomango, a branding and web design agency in Sussex. We help businesses get their brand image right so they attract more of their perfect customers.

Elaine… There is much misunderstanding around the word ‘branding’ both when applied to individuals and to businesses. So it’s time to put the record straight, no pressure! What is branding?

Mark… A phrase I really like is that branding is, what other people say about you when you’re not there. This really captures the essence for me. Branding is the impression you give from all the signals about your values or the things that make you tick.

Successful people, whatever that means to them, generally have a clear idea understanding of what they are about and they follow through with it in what they do.

A brand, or brand ‘you’, is the packaging of all these elements to convey these values to others. Some clients have strong beliefs etc but haven’t yet conveyed it very well. That’s where we come in to help them articulate their values visually, verbally and in other ways.

It’s important to remember that all the little things add up. Like how you answer the phone, behave in meetings, interact with others.

Some businesses think branding is veneer. It’s not! Scratch the surface and the real values will be unearthed. Your brand can’t be like a coat of paint. It has to run through right to the middle.

Elaine… There may be people reading this though who say, ‘well, all that branding stuff’s not for me. I’m not a mega corp or a celebrity’. Why does branding matter?

Mark… A tradesperson in a dirty van is part of their brand. Sending ‘messages’ about them to others. You’re late for a meeting or interview; that’s part of your brand. Again sending ‘messages’ about you to others. Is this the impression you want to leave? Is that who you really are?

Thinking about your own personal brand is about joining up the different dots. By doing so you are helping people get to know you and trust you.

When you get it right it builds your confidence because you’re being true to yourself and to others.

One of our most popular blog posts is about brand identity and why it’s important to businesses (if you’d like to read more please follow this link). At a very top level, it’s all about knowing what you are trying to achieve so you know the best way to position yourself to achieve it.

Elaine… Building on that further, from your work with businesses that are entering new markets, what approaches could people moving in to new career territory apply to themselves?

Mark… When I talk to businesses about their branding and positioning – basically how they want people to see them – we start by making a brutally honest appraisal of what it is they want to achieve. I’ll often say to them “Imagine it’s exactly three years from today, and we’re sitting down for a coffee. You’re really happy with where you’ve got to – what’s happened to make you so happy? What does your business look like?”. This gets them thinking about their specific goals, and from there we can talk about what needs to be put in place to make it happen.

We then move onto they’re really good at as a business, what they’re not so good at, and how they can make the most of their strengths to get to where they want to go.

Often businesses get stuck in a rut doing the same things they’ve always done, even if it’s not very profitable, and they need to take a step back to look at what they’re doing so they can figure out the best way forward.

Elaine… Focusing on taking a step back for a moment. Making an honest assessment of yourself and your value can be a challenge. What insights from helping businesses take an impartial view of their brand could help individuals do the same?

Mark… I think in both cases you need to allow yourself the right amount of time to think about your strengths AND your weaknesses. Often people have a tendency to focus too much on one or the other, depending on their personality. Don’t beat yourself up about the things you could do better, but do allow yourself to recognise where you have real talents.

Above all, always keep the bigger picture in mind. We call it the 30,000 feet view and it’s the broad brush of your ambitions and what you want your “lot” to look like. Only once you’ve done that should you break that down into a strategy and then a plan of action. Don’t try and do it the other way round.

Elaine… When you run your own business like you do, you have to be constantly evolving and learning. Please could you share with us something you have learnt in the last 12 months which helped you change perspective. Why did it help you?

Mark… I realised about 12 months ago that we’d sleepwalked into the trap of becoming desperate generalists. Work had dried up and we no longer had a focus on what we were better at than anyone else. The result was that when I spoke to a room of 30 people about what we did, they couldn’t tell Tomango apart from the other half dozen competitors in the room.

We worked with our business coach, Martin Riley, to re-find our focus, and now when I talk to a room they find it much easier to remember what we do, because I’m specific.

My great thanks go to Mark. Brilliant! If you’d like to connect or start a conversation, you’ll find him here…

LinkedIn: mark-vaesen
Twitter: @tomangoUK
Instagram: @tomangoUK

Header image courtesy of Lucas Benjamin on Unsplash

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