When I was in graduate school, all of the big firms used to come to the school to interview the top 25-33% of the class. During the two weeks of interviewing, everyone walked around in their dark suits. The men sported red “power ties” to go along with their uniform.
It was literally hard to tell each other apart. We looked like a boarding school with a strict dress code.
And you wouldn’t dare show up in something different in an effort to be unique. The firms wanted the students who came out of the cookie cutters looking the best.
Oh my how things have changed. When I graduated, my school boasted an 90+% rate of employment for graduates. Now the employment rate is at a 15 year all time low, hovering around 66%.
Many – if not most – professions are facing similar struggles with meeting the demand for jobs.
Online business owners face a similar fate. It used to be fairly easy to throw up a website, drive some traffic to it, and sell an affiliate product to thousands of hungry buyers.
Now the profitable online business markets are becoming very crowded. The money is no longer there for the taking.
So, whether you’re looking for a job, or building an online business, the rules for success have changed.
It’s time to throw the dark suit and red tie away. Or at least, to add to it with a pair of lavender snake skin boots and a matching streak of dye in your hair. It’s time to brand yourself. To be unique. To make people recognize and remember you.
I’m going to talk specifically about branding your online business, because it’s what I do. But, if I were looking for a job, I would brand myself online in the same way. And hand the interviewer my resume with my website and social networking sites prominently displayed at the top.
When you brand your business, you are making yourself unique and memorable in some way. If I say “Coca-Cola,” you see the red and white logo in your mind and think “The Real Thing.” If I say “Geico,” you see the talking gecko. You get the point.
There are 3 ways to effectively brand yourself online. And rather than give you national brand examples, I am going to give you an example of how a regular, every day person like you has successfully branded herself in each way.
You don’t have to pick just one of these ways to brand your online business. In fact, if you can incorporate each one — all the better.
1. Create a Unique Color Combination
You can brand yourself with color by choosing 1-2 colors and making them “yours.” Everywhere you appear – your website, email newsletter, all of your social media sites – have these colors prominently displayed on them.
Mari Smith has done a fabulous job of branding herself with the color turquoise. Not only is it all over her online presence and her new book – she wears the color consistently, complete with turquoise jewelry.
In a recent online class I took from her, she made a big deal out of wearing a different color during the sessions. And it was really strange to see her in a different color!
Here’s an example, taken from Mari’s website header:
Even though I’ve shrunk the size here to the point that you can’t read the words, what do you see? Turquoise. Everywhere!
2. Find Your Unique Voice
Yes, your marketplace is crowded. That’s a good thing. I never recommend that anyone start an online business in a market where there aren’t a lot of people already making money.
What this means, however, is that you need to find your unique voice. You need to stand out to your audience as saying something different than what the other 100 emails they are getting say.
The good news is that you don’t have to go out and reinvent the wheel. You don’t have to necessarily find a new, different, and better way for your market to have success with your product or service.
You just need to frame the issues differently. To put your unique spin on things. To make the way you do things stand out.
Kim Garst does a great job of being unique among social media experts. Her hook is that social media is something everyone can master. And that it should be fun in the process.
And her online business projects fun. Take a look at the cartoon character she uses on her Facebook timeline cover:
And the smile she uses as part of her Twitter ID:
Kim’s online brand suits her well, because she is fun in real life too. Give some serious thought to what you genuinely are, and translate it into your unique voice for your business.
3. Become the Face of Your Business
What better way to brand your online business than with your face? It’s certainly unique. And once people start to recognize it, there’s no doubt when they see it ~ it’s you!
People are often reluctant to do this. I understand, no one really thinks they take a good picture. But, you’d be amazed at what a professional headshot photographer can do for you!
Marketing these days is about relationships. If people are seeing your face all over your business, they are going to feel like they know you. Create good stuff for them, and they’ll come to like you and trust you as well. And then, they’ll buy from you!
Amy Porterfield does a great job of this. Take a look at her Facebook timeline cover:
You see the same thing on her website. Her face is her business. In fact, whenever I see her face, I don’t think “It’s Amy Porterfield.” I think “Facebook.” Which is exactly what she wants me to think, as that’s where her expertise lies.
At least give this a try. If you don’t have a professional photo portfolio, you can get one done for about $200. It’s well worth it.
I can’t wait to see how you brand your online business for success. If you already have something that’s working well for you, I’d love to see it. Please leave me your link in the comments!
JENNIFER HERNDON is a work at home mom with three fabulous kids, ages 3, 5 and 7. She has been enjoying the time freedom and financial benefits of working at home for over 14 years. Jennifer’s passion is empowering others to personal and business success through a positive mindset and consistent action.