“We’re all entrepreneurs now, whether we have a business, or work for someone else.”
– Catherine Kaputa, author of Breakthrough Branding
One of the first things Catherine Kaputa told me, when I interviewed her over the phone, was that everyone is an entrepreneur. She pointed out that, even if you work for someone else at a more traditional job, you still need to brand yourself and think like an entrepreneur. “My philosophy is that you are a brand,” she continued. “Everyone should get into the branding game.”
That’s the idea behind Kaputa’s book Breakthrough Branding: How Smart Entrepreneurs and Intrapreneurs Transform a Small Idea into a Big Brand. You can become a brand, and that can carry over into your home business (and your other) ventures. However, you don’t need to start out with a huge concept in order to succeed. Kaputa’s book takes you through the steps to create a great brand, starting with an idea, to sharing your brand, to developing into a big brand player.
What is Your Brand Personality?
Kaputa pointed out that your brand needs a personality. “People see attitudes in brands,” she pointed out. “Think about it like a person. How do you describe it?” When you think about brands like Apple, Trader Joe’s, and Target, very specific things come to mind. I think that Kaputa’s right when she talks about brands.
Your brand needs to have a personality. If you are basing it on your own personality, as part of your efforts to start a home business, then that personality should probably be similar to your actual personality. If you are creating something to sell, though, you need to think about how you want to portray that brand. What do you want that brand to say? “Know who you are, and how you bring value. Have a clear identity, and the value that you bring to the table,” Kaputa advised. This is helpful when choosing a brand identity, as well as branding yourself as a person in your career or home business.
You really do need to promote yourself if you want to grow your brand. Chapter 6 in Breakthrough Branding is called “Pimp My Brand!” You really do have to figure out whether or not you are properly promoting your brand. And in today’s technological age, that branding starts with the Internet. “When you have a weak footprint on the Internet, you are at a disadvantage compared to someone who has higher visibility,” Kaputa said. “You need to build yourself, and show your quality.”
Some of the ways that you can do that, Kaputa suggested, include:
- Start a blog
- Connect on social media
- Build community (incidentally, I co-authored a book on the subject of building online community)
“You have to get out there and connect, sell yourself and not just your product or service,” Kaputa said. I really think that she has a good point. Whether you want a promotion, a new job, or to start a successful home business, you really do need to make solid connections.
Kaputa pointed out, too, that you need to be ready to pitch yourself in any circumstance. Put together an elevator pitch that can be used to quickly raise interest in you, and what you do.
Re-Branding When Things Go Wrong
What about if something goes wrong? What if you have been branded badly? “If you want to make a change, create a game plan for what you want your brand to be,” Kaputa advised. “You can achieve almost anything if you have something in mind, and put together an a-b-c of what you’re going to do.”
She used Martha Stewart as a great example. “Even after Martha Stewart went to prison, she was able to re-brand,” Kaputa pointed out. “She had a plan to get back on top of her game, and now she’s successful again. … In America we like a good comeback story. People are willing to let you change your image.”
In order to change that image, though, you need to think about why there is that negative perception. “Figure out what they think about you, and how that differs from what you want them to think. Ask yourself, ‘What do I have to do to get the reaction that I want?’”
“Too much of the time we feel like victims, and branding is about taking charge of your product, your business, and yourself,” Kaputa continued. “Maximize what’s difference and good about you, and the value you bring.”
In the end, I found Breakthrough Branding a great read on what you can do to better position yourself. The book follows a natural progression through ideas that can help you create a brand strategy that works for you and for your business, no matter how small you think you are right now.
You can find more from Catherine Kaputa, and learn more about her book, at selfBRAND.com.