Ask any founder of a successful boutique consulting firm, and they will say their reputation (or personal brand) played a critical part in their biggest wins.
Brand management is a key component of any serious marketing plan. But I'm not going to write about today's crowded and competitive market, and how a unique point of view, strong public profile, and proof of expertise are all valued by consulting clients. Instead, I received this from a reader:
"Hi Danilo. I'm curious about your view on personal branding. If you had to write a post titled "3 top tips for consultants to improve their brand", what would you include?"
Thank you for the email. This consultant knows I'm not a fan of "top 7" posts so he phrased the question to get a laugh from me. Now I need to answer it.
First things first - a brand means different things to different people. In certain environments (social media) it got to a point where brand just doesn't mean anything at all. I'm not an academic marketer, so here I'll take a practical stance.
A personal brand can be seen as the foundation of your reputation. It is how others perceive you and what they say about you. Often when you are not there listening.
From what I understand though, the reader's question is more about brand management than brand. My personal definition of brand management is the ability to positively influence how people think about you and your firm, strengthening the emotional connection between you and your audience.
Now comes my answer. If I really had to pick 3 top tips for consultants to improve their brand and reputation, they would be:
- Be authentic: Be true to yourself and your values. Don't try to be someone you're not (copying someone else's behavior), or to impress others with false or exaggerated claims. Be genuine, transparent, and honest in everything you do.
- Be consistent: Consistency is key to building trust and credibility. Make sure your actions, words, and behaviors are aligned and support the kind of person you want to become. A reputation isn't built in a day.
- Be visible: It's impossible to influence how other people think about you if they don't know or remember you exist. This means sharing your expertise and insights through social media, trade associations, live events, or traditional media.
Focusing on being authentic, consistent, and visible is probably the best way to summarize what your brand management initiatives should strive for.