No matter the industry, every organization needs a brand. This is where you show exactly how you are positioned compared to everybody else. Sure, some of what makes a brand super strong is how you’re solving specific problems your customers have. But you need a strong foundation for a business brand, and that is a powerful personal one.
People buy from people
Customers usually have countless options for the same products and services. They often can get what they want from a local store just as easily as they can from a vendor halfway around the world. So, they can be pickier, and they’re looking for a truly standout business.
One of the main factors that may grab a customer’s attention, beyond the product or service itself, is trust. No one wants to feel unsure of getting their money’s worth. They also don’t want to feel unsure of your consistency, availability, or what you stand for. Unfortunately, the mistrustpeople have in companies is currently extremely high, especially in the technology sector. Thanks to all the different ways people can get information, they’re more aware than ever of company failures or other big trouble like data breaches.
Getting someone to buy or invest in your organization now requires a personal, two-way relationship. This connection allows customers to decide if your values match theirs. They might wonder, “Will you be able to meet my needs?” Once that answer becomes clear, a feeling of trust can be established.
Once someone trusts your personal brand, you must guard and maintain that trust. Regularly refer to your core values and vision so that you don’t violate their expectations. Everything you say and do should be consistent. There should not be any room or opportunity for others to question who you are or where you want to go.
Presenting your company’s personality and culture
Organizations often consist of people from different backgrounds and cultures, which all offer unique beauty and value. At the same time, your team needs to align with the same philosophies and behaviors. Presenting your personal brand means defining the company’s culture and setting boundaries to uphold it — in other words, everyone needs to walk the walk. This will prompt accountability and allow for better and more consistent decisions.
Know that it’s entirely possible to lead from the front and get dirty in the trenches. Carry out the same expectations you’ve set in place for your team, because the more you work shoulder to shoulder with your people, the more they’ll see you as one of their own. They’ll know you’re not just full of hot air when you say you understand, too. That shared experience and empathy makes them more likely to trust the vision.
Serve as an ambassador
Just like customers, investors want to engage with organizations that match their values. They don’t want to finance what they don’t believe in, so make sure they know what you stand for and who you are. You must serve as a brand ambassador to build personal trust. For example, when KnowBe4 brought on world-famous hacker Kevin Mitnick, we knew we could offer reciprocal credibility. Kevin could associate himself with a reputable IT security company, and we could prove our commitment to protecting our customers the best way possible. This showed investors that they could trust our quality standard. Kevin’s powerful personal brand is now connected with KnowBe4, and it’s done a lot to cement the brand of the organization as a whole.
To differentiate your business, differentiate yourself
Because personal and organizational brands are connected, don’t hesitate to recognize and leverage your values. If you communicate who you are and back it up with action, then people will have confidence in the business you lead. Positioning yourself as different from the crowd will garner attention, develop trust among customers and investors, and create a compelling and sustainable brand for the future.