Branding Yourself: Make It, Don't Fake It

Branding U

When you open an ecommerce store, branding is important. The site design, the logo, the colors, must all work together to create a cohesive and enticing presentation. But there’s one area of branding owners often forget about – themselves.

Branding yourself is as important, if not more important than branding your business. Why? Because people want to buy from people they like and trust.

There are dozens of high-profile cases where customers boycotted a business because they didn’t like the words or actions of the CEO. But it’s works the other way around, too.

Branding Yourself: Make It, Don't Fake ItCompare these two scenarios:

Yellow Butterfly is an online store that sells handmade hair accessories. It’s a marketplace shop with an empty placeholder instead of a photo of the shop owner and the bio page is a cold paragraph about fast delivery and quality workmanship.  The shopper gets no insight into the passion or story of the artist, no way to connect with the owner.

Blue Butterfly is an online store that sells handmade hair accessories. It’s an IndieMade shop with an About page that includes a photo of the owner and her family and a story about how she learned to craft from her grandmother. There’s also a gallery of photos of her kids wearing the hair accessories and a recently updated blog post that talks about her trip to Disneyland where she got inspired to create a whole new line of hair bows.

Where would you rather shop? Which owner would you trust with your money? Which store would you visit over and over again?

More than a Family Album

Personal branding is more than just a collection of family photos and stories. It’s your style. Your tone. Your mission.

  • Susan is a city-dwelling fashionista who sells pickled vegetables picked from a rooftop garden. That incongruity is her personal brand; denim overalls and high heels, recipes for pickled beets and caviar on toast.
  • A Texas mother of twins sells one-of-a-kind sweaters. Those are three key points that will attract new customers; other moms, Texans and parents raising twins.
  • A college student, who is extremely passionate about the environment, uses her blog to educate people on the topic before leading them to a store full of Earth friendly soaps and household cleansers.

With one paragraph, I introduced you to a store and a store owner. I’ll bet you already have an affinity for one over the other and you haven’t even seen what they’re selling. That’s the power of personal branding.

Woman holding peppersWhat’s important is that you make it, don’t fake it.

Our city girl farmer might not actually cook while wearing high heels but she really does grown her own veggies and she has a closet full of Louboutins. Never lie to your customers. Never pretend to be something you’re not. A little dramatic license is fine (For many years, I used a sketch of a much thinner, “Hollywood” version of me for my brand), but don’t get carried away. If you wish you lived in the South of France, make that wish part of your brand. There are plenty of potential customers who wish they lived there, too.

Branding yourself begins with an introduction and continues with a conversation. You don’t have to reveal all of the intimate details of your life, but coming across as a real person – not a faceless company – will lead to more sales and is essential for customer loyalty.