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Networking 101 – More on Branding

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Following on from last week, I promised to continue this section with Branding. What is branding? I don’t believe that there is any functioning human being on the planet that does not understand what Branding is:

You need only look at the adverts on products like Coca-Cola, with its unique logo – it is instantly recognizable anywhere in the world.

But what does Branding mean to you as an SMME and to you as an individual?

For me, branding for my business is all about my logo, the name of my company, the layout of both of these. For example, if you had a business that deals with plumbing you wouldn’t have a picture of a mother and a baby. Similarly, you would not call yourself “Mother and Child” – you would have something more appropriate like “XXX Plumbing”.

Once you have decided on the name of the Company, the logo, or any kind of artwork that you have, this should be visible and attached to any and all correspondence that you may have with anyone. Even if you are just sending an e-mail to your buddy down the road, this should be attached – this is advertising for your business. If your buddy down the road, forwards your message, your joke, and/or whatever – your advertising goes with it. So please remember to only use this email for ‘appropriate’ correspondence.

Use every opportunity available to you, to get the name of your business out there. Don’t go anywhere without your business cards. Not to the cricket game, or to the pub down the road, or to your buddy’s braai. Take your business cards with you – you don’t know where the next opportunity is coming from and you have to be ready.

Now on the personal branding: How do you brand yourself on a personal level. Well, this is the “image” that many people have a huge amount of stuff to say about like you have something like 8 nanoseconds to make an impression, etc, etc, etc. Not being a professional on this subject, I will not make any further comment on this. What I can say though is . . . yes! You need to make an impression and it needs to be something that will stick in the minds of people, long after they have forgotten your name. Now that doesn’t mean to say that you need to do a dance naked on the table in front of whoever it is that you are meeting. It just means that for me, it’s just about being myself, which means “Always”, and I mean “Always” thinking out of the box.

For those of you who know me, you know that I am a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl. I don’t subscribe to the fashion magazines and quite frankly it is far too hot to dress in the obligatory corporate suits that most business women wear (I’m not knocking them you understand – I’m just saying that it’s just not me). So I wear jeans and if, as in the case of the Business Engage dinners, my friend Geraldine does not allow me to wear jeans, I still wear my golf t-shirts! I also love bright colours and designs. Personally, I don’t think that we have enough colour in our business lives. To me, business does not have to be dull and boring, in fact, it is fun, interesting, and exciting!

The result of course is that I go to the Business Engage ( dinners and everyone is dressed to the hilt! The women all look so gorgeous and stunning in outfits that cost the earth and. . . . they all look just the same. Me, well I stand out in the crowd because I am different. Ok, before I go any further with this – you also have to comfortable with ‘different’ – if you aren’t, then standing out in the crowd is not going to be comfortable for you! Anyway, the point is that people remember me because of this.

I am not advocating that everyone looks like me either – heaven forbid. What I am saying, is find out who “the you” is that you are comfortable with and go with that. We are all unique individuals and our own “inner selves” will shine our own particular light out.

I have asked my good friend and colleague Linda Hart from Image Craft, who is a Branding Specialist, to make a few comments that can assist you all, with finding out who and what your own particular brand is. So continue to watch this blog, and get the opinion of an expert. Thanks in advance Linda.

I will continue this saga next time, with why we need to Network.