"I'm a communications coach, and I help people with something to say, but struggle to say it."
That's how I say who I am, and what I do in 20 words or less.
I am a confident personal brand.
Not so long ago my brand was an awkward span of supply chain, communications and career coaching. I had left a safe and secure corporate career as a supply chain expert, and took a leap to blog about career and communications insights.
And while I might have left my old career behind, my branding stayed firmly anchored in my past.
Since then my workshops have moved out my friends' living rooms into corporate offices, and national conferences. My audiences have grown from 6 to over 100.
And my business model has expanded to technology entrepreneurs where I work on product branding, elevator pitches and business development.
Although my business still a start up, it’s not a mistake that my business started picking up speed when my personal brand got focused.
Or slowed down when my brand was fuzzy.
The power of brand clarity
I’m a former corporate exec with no small business experience, and I’m gaining clients and getting successful outcomes in a field where I have no formal education, credentials or experience.
If I didn’t believe in the power of branding before, I do now.
Are you ready to take the rebranding leap?
Here are my ABC's of rebranding your personal brand
Start by declaring a change
You don’t have to declare your brand at first. The longer you’ve had the old brand, the more time you need to distance yourself from it.
Early on, it was more important for me to identify with being an entrepreneur and throw off my corporate identify than to define my brand. I knew I wanted to work with communications and people development instead of the supply chain.
That was good enough to start.
My brand message became clear 9 months after I started rebranding.
Listen (and resist the urge to act)
I'm Type AAA, and I only had a corporate background.
I knew my corporate instincts may lead me astray, so I consciously suppressed the urge to act and focused on listening. I paid close attention to what I gravitated towards when I talked with people.
I asked myself, "Where am I naturally giving advice? What were people asking me about?"
I found that I had a natural tendency to work on communications and message clarity.
Be prepared to pivot.
It's a process, not a point in time.
Don't lock yourself down, instead, give yourself time to learn.
Originally I wanted to be an author and blogger. I was going to write an inspirational book about leadership. Today I'm a consultant, give workshops, and speak and blog about communications.
While I still aspire to be inspirational, I've realized that I'm much more successful being instructional.
Learn. Get feedback. Ask questions.
Have an open mind. The rebranding process is the time to explore.
As a new blogger, I read lots of blogs, took classes, and got advice on writing and editing. When I started feeling confident in my writing, I switched my focus to learn about marketing and selling strategies.
Are you starting over?
You're a newbie. Embrace the learning process.
Try. And fail. Rinse and repeat.
Nothing is ever perfect, and waiting for perfection means you'll never launch. I started in the living room of a friend with over 100 slides and barely finishing in 2 hours.
Then I developed templates for my workshops and my blog posts, and started more efficiently meeting my clients needs.
Last week I gave an express version of my workshop in 45 minutes, reduced the workbook size by 20%, and never missed a stride.
It’s ok to have a safety net at first.
When I first started I wasn’t comfortable saying I was a communications coach, but at the same time, I didn’t want to stay stuck to my past as a supply chain expert. So I developed a bridge brand:
“While the supply chain is my expertise, people are my passion, so I left my corporate job to become a communications coach.”
I used the bridge brand until I had enough successful workshops and independent recommendations to feel confident I had proven my business model.
If you're feeling a little nervous about the leap, try spanning your old brand and new brand. Just don't let the bridge become a crutch.
Network with a new crowd.
You are the sum of the 5 people you hang around with the most.
Do you want to stay stuck in the past? Then keep your old network and listen to the naysayers.
Do you want to accelerate your change? Find a new crowd to network with.
You want to look for 3 types of people:
People in the same boat as you
Those just ahead of you
Role models that inspire you
I made more progress in the past 6 months than the previous 12 months and a lot had to do with my network and how they challenged me with their different perspective.
Define your audience.
Do you know what the definition of a brand is? A brand is a reason to choose.
A personal brand is a reason to choose you.
If you want to rebrand yourself, you'd better know who's making the choice.
The more you know about your clients, customers, readers, the more you’ll understand who you appeal to and why. Once you’re clear, you’ll be able to customize what you offer.
Work on your business model.
Start working on the processes that support your business - your pricing, your programs, your website. Figure out your freemium, premium and enterprise products. Learn how to introduce, network and promote yourself, your brand and your business.
Create your brand message.
You now have all you need to rebrand yourself.
It's time to get focused.
I help a lot of people and businesses today on branding, and the number one brand killer is failing to focus.
Focus on identifying your core brand. Develop a tight message track, perfect your product or program, and build your reputation. As you build your reputation, you’ll gain confidence and customers. and build your brand.
Once your core brand is on track, you can start adding adjacencies or upsell.
Rebranding is not about your past.
Rebranding is about your future.
Rebranding is not how much experience you have in your current brand, it’s how clear you are on where you’re headed.
The rest will follow.
Check out the The Career Toolbox page for more practical tips and tools.
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I'm Rebecca Okamoto and I'm on a mission to unlock career potential. Do you have something to say, but struggle to say it? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to get more information or find about my popular workshop, "How to say who you are and what you do in 20 words or less".
Photo / Holli Conger lp_collection2