There is so much out there today about self-care, especially in the current climate and situation we all find ourselves in. Is it okay to fill in the blank: go to a spa, get a pedicure, get a facial, get your hair done….and the list goes on. What is the “right” thing to do today? As a result of this, so many products and solutions have come into the marketplace, but let us all be honest for a minute. There is nothing like going to your favorite person for each of these services and putting yourself into their hands, knowing that you will leave looking nothing short of fabulous. (Thank you, Melissa at Spa Melissa Allen and Hannah at Soap Box Salon! You save my life on the regular for these things…)
And as always, in paying attention to what is going on around me in an effort to find my next blog topic, it just so happened that between personal appointments and a new aesthetician client for our business, (Hi, Daniela at Addo!) I feel like my world has been inundated with conversation around branding within this space, and specifically, personal branding.
During my recent facial with the lovely and talented Melissa, we got to talking about finding and keeping clients and ultimately the conversation ended up in a personal brand space. Melissa knows - and I believe her, because I am one of the case studies - that she and the client know within the first 30 minutes of their first appointment whether it is going to be a long-term fit. She has never been wrong, and as her list of clients grows, this happens more clearly for her each time. And the secret? She is so secure in her personal brand and who she is that she knows the types of personal brands that work for her. Now, is she using that language? Of course not. That wouldn’t be natural human conversation. But what she does speak to is complementary personalities, the balance of strength and vulnerability, and an overall authenticity and alignment of “just being a good person” as she calls it. (We share the “now that we work for ourselves we will never work with another a**hole in our lives.” Kindred spirits over here…)
And then, Melissa recommended me to her business and marketing coach, who grew up specifically in the aesthetic space but has carved out a niche for herself, helping aestheticians become entrepreneurs and starting and owning their own businesses. From my very first conversation with Daniela, we talked very honestly and overtly about how it is a service business, but that with that comes a lot of responsibility to be true to yourself while helping others grow their businesses, and also being honest with the people that you are coaching. With the goal of authentically helping others build their businesses, Daniela uses the essence of who she is - her personal brand - to give just the right amount of guidance to build confidence and then cheer her clients on as they go out into the world on their own. (Of course, always being there for them when they come back for additional assistance.)
And then there is Hannah. We were meant to be connected from the day my son, Sam, turned up from an outing with his dad that resulted in such a terrible haircut that at 2 years old he knew to be embarrassed. Terrified of sending him absolutely anywhere looking like that, (yes, I admit it and yes it is an extreme reaction), I raced him around the corner to a salon owned by a friend of a friend and discovered Hannah. She fixed him right up, and by the end of that 20 minute appointment they were such good friends that he threw his chubby arms around her and she was his. (He has been telling everyone that will listen for the 3 years since that his girlfriend “cuts his hair and her name is Hannah.”) And you know what that resulted in? When I was looking for someone new for my hair I transferred, which led to both my mom and sister transferring and now our little Mia, at 2 years old, goes to Hannah too. And you know what? We aren’t the only ones. Hannah arguably has just as many little clients as adults, and many of them share the story of using her for their kids and then themselves. And with her southern accent, big dimples, and heart of gold, it is easy to see why they love her so much.
So what is the point of all this? Well, I would argue that since each of these ladies are so entrenched in their personal brands and who they are at their very core, they attract the right people to them as clients, and often at their most vulnerable. (I can attest - telling Melissa that I was too embarrassed to leave the house without face makeup because of my dark spots and flaring rosacea - all in the first 30 minutes - was not a comfortable situation.) With their caring nature and overall grace, lots of people are attracted to them. But don’t be fooled - their strength of conviction leads to only the right ones staying the course. (And in my mind, being lucky enough to have them.)
And what, exactly, do they do for their personal brand that allows them to get it just right? Let’s jump in, shall we?
Know your personal brand characteristics. For each of these ladies, their profession is their calling. They profess to be non-judgmental caregivers that are exactly what their clients need and nothing else. But the ways in which this comes to light for each of them is really different. For example, Hannah is a nurturer. She is as selfless as they come, and takes on much more than hair woes when dealing with her clients. She cares deeply about them, and gives of herself at each visit. Daniela is a teacher. She has found a way to channel her natural tendencies and skills in a way that shares with others how to use what she knows to build their businesses. And Melissa is a protector. She takes looking out for people’s skin very seriously, and in doing so becomes protective of her clients as people as well. These are all different brand characteristics that are unique articulations of a caregiver personality that can be used in defining one’s personal brand.
Be aware of your appearance. Being a caregiver is no easy task, even when you are meant for it. But your appearance is a reflection of your personal brand. And this is why it is important to be in tune with your appearance - which is much more than your physical appearance but your image as a whole. We talked about the type of caregiver each of the ladies are above, and this means the way in which they appear is different. I mentioned Hannah’s easy smile, dimples (ok...God gave her these but she uses them!) and upbeat attitude as a whole, as well as her loving attitude toward her clients. This is the whole manifestation of her image, which is key to reinforcing her personal brand. She is herself to her very core each day, and she owns that image of herself.
Get a handle on your behaviors. Our behaviors are what people use to define our reputation. So, it is important to reflect on how our behaviors are supporting (or not supporting) the personal brand we desire. Daniela talks all day long about her behaviors, and how they ladder up to creating the best version of herself each day. As a caregiver, she shares her ways with others, encouraging them to do the same. So while she starts her days with a walk with her infant son, she encourages others to find the way they can best center themselves for a good day. She is a planner right down to the weekly meals, and this helps her feel in control, so she shares her calendar as food for thought. And her greatest joy comes on coaching calls with others, but she knows she has to mentally prepare for each because they take a lot of energy. All of this is Daniela managing her behaviors to consistently reflect her personal brand and reputation.
Take planned and conscious action. Melissa loves what she does and she cares for her clients, as we mentioned. But she also has big goals for the size and impact of her business and she makes huge strides on a daily basis. This is because the key to her personal brand is the need to make an impact, and so she sets her goals high and then sets about achieving them. This is her way of taking action. And while she takes careful care of each client throughout her day, she always has her eye on the bigger picture of why she is there and what she is trying to achieve. This allows her to use each “mini action” (or appointments with clients) throughout the day to better herself in order to achieve her bigger goals in an authentic way.
Own it. Own all of it. And finally, and perhaps most importantly - personal brands aren’t perfect, because people aren’t perfect. Be who you are, warts and all. When Hannah has to cancel or reschedule an appointment, (which by the way has happened twice in the 3 years we have been going to her), I am fine with it. And mostly more concerned that she is okay. When Melissa had surgery I found her on my mind over the course of that time and marveled over the fact that in 8 short months we had formed a bond that had me silently rooting her on. Daniela talks about her family being the most important and she does not apologize for managing her work day around her new son learns to take on the world. And what do they all have in common? They do not apologize for who they are. (Not that they don’t have their bad days. I would be remiss to overstate this and they would be mad. But in general, they own it.)
So, what is the point of all of this? Well, hopefully you have taken away that your personal brand is dependent on your interactions with others, and your interactions with others are dependent on the clarity and consistency by which you communicate your personal brand. Made up of your characteristics, your appearance, your behaviors and actions, your personal brand is a sum of all of the parts of you rolled up into one that helps others learn about you and ultimately build a relationship with you. In the self-care space, this is hugely important, as we all share our most intimate concerns with these folks. But it is important with any client relationship, or really any relationship at all in your life, as your personal brand lives within you at all times and can either help or hurt your mission in life.
Now, more than ever, it is essential that you know who you are, you embrace it, and you continue to work on yourself. Take a cue from these ladies, and find what really moves you, and waste no time going to do it. But also do the hard work that they have done to find themselves, know themselves, and be vulnerable enough to be authentic and make changes when needed to their personal brands.
Looking for a referral for hair, facials, or business coaching? Send me a DM and I will connect you to these wonderful ladies.
And, as always, if you find yourself having a hard time or getting stuck on your personal brand, give us a call. We have been there. Being honest with who you are and then being brave enough to put it out there in your relationships is tough. And in all honesty, reflecting on your personal brand doesn’t come naturally, not even to those of us that are in the field. Reach out, and we can help you figure it out and get you on a path to your own success through your personal brand.
Anne Candido and April Martini are the Co-Founders of Forthright People, an On-Demand Marketing Agency focused on helping start-ups, small and mid-size businesses quickly capture the hearts of their customers without breaking the bank. They believe in “real-time brand-building”, which delivers strategically-informed execution, creating immediate business impact while also developing equity for systemic growth. And since their team consists of an extended network of talented freelancers and boutique agencies, they do not require hefty retainers and contracts to do it. Contact them via email: Anne@Forthright-People.com and April@Forthright-People.com.