Today, I want to share some of my insight into branding and just how important it is. The first thing you have to realize is that YOU ARE A BRAND! In fact anyone and everyone is a brand. Many times I’ve seen aspiring artist show up to an event looking like they just rolled out of bed. They had no personal style or identifiable branding, yet they are trying to “make it”. If you think about successful bands and artist over the years, you’ll realize that branding is so important.
For instance, think of the band Kiss, they didn’t dare be seen without their makeup, in fact if they had, nobody would have known who they were. This being said…I’ll tell you about the decisions that I’ve made throughout my career that have helped shape my personal brand and give you advice for shaping yours. Use these examples and consider your experiences, and hopefully it will guide you in defining your own brand.
Branding yourself or your product is an important part of your professional career, whether it’s your personal brand and how people come to know you as a professional, or the brand of your product. It’s all about what people think about you and the product your offering. It’s the personality, and most importantly the look and the feel of how you present and position yourself or your product.
Building my personal brand is ongoing, and it’s something that I've been working on for years. I’ve accomplished several things in my career that I’m very proud of, like making myself the face of Lamborghini Toronto and coining the phrase “Music’s Favourite Pin Up Girl”. I’m also working on other things that I want to associate myself with: I want to create great music, sell books, and most importantly motivate other aspiring entrepreneurs but these are things that millions of others are trying to do at the exact same time, so you have to be smart about branding or you’ll just blend in with the many.
I’ve worked hard to make my name synonymous with hard work. At my dealership, I’ve accomplished sales numbers that have been recognized internationally. I attribute that to my drive, my team, and also a desire to build my personal brand. Because it’s personal it matters that much more to me. So it’s important that you’re brand be truly yours. If you’re a poser then you just won’t care, make it personal and it will automatically matter to you.
Earlier on in my career, I met a salesperson at a dealership, when I asked him a question, he responded by saying “I’m sorry Ma’am, I don’t have an answer. I sell several brands and it’s hard to keep them all straight”. To me, that was just such an unacceptable answer! He wasn’t knowledgeable on the product he was supposed to be selling. So at that moment I realized I couldn’t trust him and was turned off regarding the brands he was representing. It occurred to me that it didn’t make sense to be in sales and not specialize in something. When I started selling super luxe cars, I decided that I was going to specialize in only one brand of car and that I was going to know it inside and out. Why not do one thing and do it really well? That was an ‘ah ha’ moment for me, and because of it, I’m happy with the hard work that I’ve put in to brand myself as the Lamborghini sales specialist for my province and my dealership. It’s helped me stand out. When people want to buy a Lamborghini in Toronto, they will likely think of me, and that’s because of the branding that has been established.
In the beginning of my career, my former boss was deciding whether or not I would specialize in selling Lamborghini’s or another brand. They were both stunning and breathtaking brands, but I had to dig deep and decide which one really suited me. Initially, he tried to convince me to sell the other brand. He said the brand was polished, put together, and it would be a great fit for me, because I was a woman. Right away, I told him that my personality was more aligned with Lamborghini but he resisted in the beginning because he I believe he felt a man should be selling Lamborghini. I fought for the brand and said, “I can be myself with the Lambo clients. It’s a very laid back rockstar sort of brand and the clients are never pretentious. I know that I can speak their language.” So after a few days of holding my ground he allowed me to choose Lambo. Once I thought about it, I knew I had picked correctly. I chose Lamborghini, and I’ve never looked back! It’s been the great fit for myself and my clients.
In branding, you need to develop strong opinions about how you feel about a product. You need to determine what exactly it is that you believe about it that will make it successful. Sometimes it's just so obvious, but other people might not see it. Brands definitely have a personality and each brand has a certain type of buyer. Whether or not it’s your personal brand or a product of a brand that you’re representing, the personality of a brand exists in the mind of the consumer. However, you have influence and control over how to position that brand. The way you associate yourself or your product, how you talk about it, how you present yourself or said brand… all of these situations shape how others perceive the brand.
For me, as a salesperson, it's not always even what you sell, it's how you sell it. I’ve worked hard to build up my clientele and they know that I’m a straight shooter. When I first started out in my career, I was out every night in Yorkville, buying people drinks, handing out cards, meeting potential clients, and telling people about what I did. When I was building up my client list, I would take business cards from people that offered, but more importantly, I was prepared and gave them my card as well. I would capture as much information about them as I could – where we met, what we talked about, etc… then I would reach out by email and start building more of a relationship with them. Basically, I put the time in and hustled to build my clientele. To date, I have close to 700 buyers that I’ve dealt with! And at this point, I don’t need to go out and work for clients anymore, because now they come to me. That’s the beauty of branding.
Personally, I have a competitive nature. Whatever I do, I strive to be the best. This reminds me of a great story about an opportunity I saw at work. When I first got my job, I asked my boss if I could start taking the cars out in public rather than leave them sitting static in the showroom, hoping someone would walk in. I told him “I’ve got to be out with the cars. People need to see me out with them. They’ll see me and want to talk to me”. Eventually, I convinced him to let me take a car to an event I was attending. It was a car meet with roughly 2000 young kids. Most of the cars attending would be inexpensive cars that had been modified, but I knew every kid there would have a cell phone and would be posting on social media. So I asked to take the most expensive car we had. It was new and priced out over half a million dollars. He was a bit reluctant at first, but ultimately, I persuaded him that this would be a good thing for the dealership, and boy, was I right! At the show, people were coming up and taking pictures and posting them all on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Many of the people at that event hadn’t had a chance to see a Lamborghini Aventador up close, so this was a shock to their system. The next day when I came into work, people kept telling me “Heather…You’re all over the internet!” It was a great way to get out there, meet potential clients, and make a great name for our dealership, myself as a saleswoman, and Lamborghini. And all those kids told their parents and word spread like wild fire, at that point everyone knew Lamborghini Uptown Toronto existed. The brand was on the map!
So to sum this up…I’ll leave you with a few key thoughts about branding for you to think about:
1. Your brand needs to reflect something that you’re passionate about. People are good at gauging if something is authentic or not, so promote what you love.
2. You must be on social media. Social media is huge. I met a client who ended up spending $2 Million to date with me through Instagram!
3. You need a team that knows what they’re doing. For example, I trust that my photographer is going to capture great photos. I trust that my accountant will keep me forging ahead for another month. I trust that my manager will book me for the right events. The team you surround yourself with will be your support when times are tough and ultimately help you take your brand to the top.
Consider some of these tips and examples as you think about where your brand is headed and where you could tweak it to make it stronger. And ultimately forge ahead with confidence. You’ll never get there until you start, but if you start you will get there…and that is the beauty of branding!