Wondering what is branding? As an influencer and blogger you need to know your personal brand and the components that it consists of.
IE 94: What is Branding with Phil Pallen
I met today’s guest at the Everything Food Conference where we served on a panel together and he kept us all in stitches the entire time. Phil Pallen is a brand strategist who works with television personalities, politicians, and business owners.
As a brand strategist who is focused on personal branding, Phil focuses on 3 things
Phil is always working in one of these 3 areas with his clients who range from a shark on Shark Tank, to a dentist, a jeweler and a Nobel peace prize winner.
What Is Branding?
Have you ever felt confused about what branding actually is? What is it? Could you give me a simple explanation in your own words of what branding is?
If you can’t quite nail it down, you are not alone. Phil says that there are so many definitions of branding floating around that it becomes quite confusing to try to get it into one easy sentence. Phil prefers the definition by Jeff Bezos, founder, chairman, and CEO of Amazon –
“Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
In Phil’s world of working with individuals, he defines branding as achieving consistency between who you are in real life and how you present yourself online. In other words, it is recreating the in-person experience online every day. You present two pieces of yourself online:
- Content – what you say
- Personality – how you say it
Phil uses the latter, the personality, to keep people coming back to you and only you, for more of the content you share. Now, more than ever, you need to incorporate personality in order to stand out from the crowd. You can’t be satisfied with merely “existing” online. If you don’t stand out, you are dead before you start.
Why You Don’t Want Everyone to Love You
In my work with bloggers, I see it all the time. A blogger who is distraught because someone unsubscribed from her email list. And yet, this is a good thing! Why?
If you are really putting your own personality into your content and showing the real you to your audience, it will be just like real life: some people won’t like you.
Is that too harsh for you? Listen to me, your job is to attract and repel. You want to attract the people who want to hear what you have to say in the way you say it and you want to repel the people who don’t like your style.
If everybody loves you, you aren’t being real. If everybody doesn’t love you, congratulations! You are doing it right.
Here’s the thing, you don’t have a product that your audience can’t find somewhere else. Think about that for a minute. You don’t. There isn’t a product in the world that you can’t find in more than one place. So why does your audience keep coming back to you to purchase the product you sell or read the content you create?
That’s where your personality comes into play. It’s the secret ingredient that keeps your audience coming back to you, and only you, for more of what you have.
Why Brands Need a Face (Your Face)
If you feel like there is no room for you as an influencer; if you think that you can’t reach out to the same brands that your blogger friend is reaching out to; if you think that the online space is too small for you; you just need a mindset shift.
The fact is, influencers are a group that is growing every day. Brands have marketing dollars to spend getting their name out there. People don’t even think about engaging with a logo but they do engage with other people.
Brands are looking for more influencers because they need the personality behind the influencer to reach their audience. And since nobody else in the world has your face or your personality, brands want you to represent them to your audience.
Don’t ever feel like you are competing with other bloggers for brand sponsorships. Brands need many faces and specific audiences to sell their products. Stop thinking of it as competing and begin to think about collaborating.
How to Be a Superstar on Social Media
Is it just me, or does anybody else feel pulled in a thousand different directions when it comes to social media? There are so many options and how are we supposed to know which way to go?
We see what other bloggers are doing and we feel the need to copy them so we start looking at their social media posts and 4 hours later, we’ve made zero progress but we know which website theme they use, what their 3 branded fonts are, and their branded color palette.
As Phil puts it, “We are facing 100 doors but we walk through exactly zero of them because we are too busy standing there staring at them.”
What is the solution for this? It’s actually pretty simple.
Choose one platform and slay. Don’t just be a rock star on it; be a superstar. It is much better to own one platform than to be mediocre on 3.
How do you choose which platform to slay first? Go where your audience is. Look at your Google analytics and see where your audience actually is and then show up there consistently. Show your audience your brand by being consistent with your visuals.
Teach your audience what to expect from you by being consistent in what you show. On Instagram, you can even use your branding in your stories. You don’t have to think about your main feed only as the place to be consistent with your branding. Your branding should be consistent everywhere.
Why You Absolutely Have to Be on Instagram
Phil says that if you aren’t on the Instagram train, you need to get on it. Instagram is taking over social media and brands want to see bloggers and influencers active on the platform.
He has spent the past 12 months actively working on his own Instagram account; working on that consistency and branding. When it comes to an Instagram strategy, you’re thinking about 4 different areas:
- Your feed
- Your stories
- Your IG Live
- Your IGTV
If you find yourself spending a lot of time on Instagram, be okay with that. The way you learn a platform and get good at it is by spending time there and playing around with it. The more you practice, the better you will get if you have the right strategy going in.
One of the things Phil said that I absolutely loved was about repurposing content. Do you repurpose your content? I have talked about this before because this very podcast is repurposed from my weekly Facebook lives inside my Jenny Melrose Facebook group. It then gets repurposed into a YouTube video and this blog post.
Phil has been experimenting with repurposing the content he uses in his Instagram stories. The thing is, if you are sharing valuable content in your stories, which you totally should be doing, that is content that you could use at other times and on other platforms. This requires planning ahead for what you share in your stories which is also important.
Think about something you want to share with your audience and try to grab a bite-sized piece of it out for an IG story. If you can do that, you will be able to develop it into more long-form content to share elsewhere, whether that’s on your website, on Facebook, or in a video you post to YouTube.
Recreating the In-Person Experience
We talked earlier about the need for faces in order for brands to be able to sell their products. When it comes to specific niches though, should your face be your brand? Does it matter what photo is associated with your brand if you are, say, a food blogger?
It absolutely matters, according to Phil. It all goes back to recreating that in-person experience. Remember, your brand is simply giving anybody who comes into contact with your online presence the same experience they would have meeting you in person.
What makes you stand out? Is it what you say or how you say it?
It is actually always a combination of both but if you think about certain people, they are known more for what they say than how they say it. Think about Anderson Cooper, host of the CNN news show, Anderson Cooper 360. When he was given a daytime talk show, it flopped. Why?
Because his brand is to give us the news. He does news and he does news interviews. It has nothing to do with how he says it, it’s all about what he says.
But take Ellen. She could read us the phone book and as long as we’re giggling along, we’re happy. Because it’s all about how she says it.
The question is, what does your audience associate with your brand? If it’s you that they know, then you should have your own photo as the profile image. If it’s more of a branded entity that’s content-driven, it could be a logo. Just remember, companies are looking for ways to make their brands more personal and put a face to them. Humanize your brand in every way you can and that usually works out best for you.
Get Phil’s Free Guide to Branding
This PDF download walks you through the formula for positioning your brand, building it out (having something to show for it like photography, brand identity, and a website), and then promoting it.
It’s the kind of thing you would want after hearing Phil speak and merely scratching the surface on branding. This is the next step, the next level. It is a compilation of many of the things Phil and I covered in this episode but on a more actionable level.
It’s great to talk about strategy and planning but if you never put any of it into place, you haven’t gained anything from all the talk. This guide will help you take action on everything Phil taught us today.
And before we go, I absolutely have to insist that you check out Phil’s podcast that he does with his business partner. The podcast is called Brand Therapy and on each episode, Phil and Lauren take an anonymous guest and walk them through a specific problem in their business. I highly recommend it to get even more help and tips on branding.
If you got as much help out of this episode as I think you did, be sure to grab your free guide and then go binge the podcast like I’ve been doing.
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