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Personal Branding: Do You Need to Shift Your Focus in 2013?

As we’ve discussed previously, one of the key elements to a powerful personal brand is focus. Effective brands, personal or corporate, are focused on a particular niche and a particular set of characteristics that separate the business from others in their market. McDonalds is very successful at what they do—namely, selling affordable burgers and fries that taste the same no matter which location you visit. Meanwhile, just about every city in the USA has at least one local, high-end steakhouse. They’re not cheap, they’re not fast—but they are classy, distinctive, and known for delicious entrees.

Two very different restaurants with a very different focus—and both have found success.

The question is… what is your focus?

Who is your target market? What are the characteristics of your ideal customer?

How does your brand appeal to these customers? (Common answers might include “an emphasis on customer service” or “years of experience” or “a unique product that no one else can offer.”)

Now that you’ve got an idea of the focus of your brand, let’s take a few moments to evaluate it critically. Answer each of these questions as honestly as you can:

Does your brand resonate with your target market? In other words, is it appealing? Times change, and a brand that was attractive ten years ago could easily be obsolete today. (How many of us still use AOL as our internet provider?)

Does your brand set you apart from others in your market? The whole point of a strong personal brand is that it differentiates you from your competition. When successful, this gives you the ability to virtually “lock out” competitors because they simply can’t provide what you can. But the marketplace is fast-moving—so honestly evaluate whether your brand is still unique.

Does your brand focus on the value you provide to your customers? Ultimately, your brand should answer the question “why should I do business with you?” McDonalds offers fast, affordable burgers—consistent time after time. Apple offers cutting edge technology and a “cool” factor. Nike makes their customers feel like world-class athletes. What value does your brand provide?

The beginning of the New Year is a perfect opportunity to evaluate the state of your brand. Take some time to ponder these questions… and ask yourself if perhaps your brand needs a new focus for 2013.

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