In celebration of the all-new charlotteargyrou.com, I’ve invited seven brilliant founders to share their expertise in seven areas of creative business. These are subjects I have found especially fun or challenging in my first 18 months since launching Charlotte Argyrou Illustration. “On the Sofa” invites creative, wedding and wellness entrepreneurs to join the conversation, each focused on personal branding, community, tech & SEO, mindset, design, self-belief and uniqueness.
First up is Maria Ure, founder of Luminate PR. Maria’s boutique agency helps wedding and consumer brands – often solopreneurs or very small teams – refine their messaging, build brand awareness with a target audience and secure press coverage. We discuss personal branding, and specifically what your brand is when you are just one person.
What is a Brand?
Charlotte: Does an individual creative business owner need to have a brand – isn’t that a bit Kardashian?
Maria: A personal brand is no longer just a logo, or a font. It’s everything around the person, which can be really confusing for creative business owners especially those with a single product or service. Your brand is not your product. Whether it’s jewellery or dresses, or just a great idea – your product alone can be a bit boring. Personal branding is trying to marry together the single person with a wider holisitic element, to best communicate what the customer will experience when they buy into you.
Maria: Everyone is over the heavily filtered Instagram of 2/3 years ago. Instead, try to think about the following four elements when you are creating content for your ideal client:
- Expectations of your customers. What are they looking for?
- Story behind the brand. Who are you? Why do you do what you do?
- The memories you create. What do you do best or that no-one else does?
- The relationship with your customers. What’s their takeaway from working with you?
Putting the Personal in Personal Branding
Charlotte: How do I know what to share and where to hold back?
Maria: As long as you are comfortable, there’s no right or wrong answer about how much of you should be in your branding. Not everyone has to turn the camera around and do Instagram Lives. There are ways around it and it not all your content needs to be about you or your product. Talking about brands, food, art, TV shows or celebrities you like still communicates your values to your community.
Maria: Here are three points to keep in mind about what to share:
- Tell your story.
- Refine your messaging. Be clear and consistent. Try to keep your design elements the same so your brand is recognisable and familiar, even if the content varies.
- Ensure your positioning aligns you with your ideal client’s values and goals. If you wouldn’t find yourself engaging, it’s unlikely your ideal client would either.
Maria: Here’s where to consider holding back:
- Try to be objective about the version of yourself your putting out there. Even though they may be adorable, are photos of your kids really relevant to your business and your client?
- Your brand is in your hands. You only have to share as much as you want. Don’t let yourself be encouraged to share beyond what feels right to you.
- You want your content to be real. Too perfect is boring because there’s no feeling. So if your content feels inauthentic to you, it most likely will to your audience too.
Presenting Yourself Online
Charlotte: How do I get comfortable with the idea of putting myself out there?
Maria: People are nosy and that’s the bottom line. So if you are happy to share the story behind your business, you will make connections with like-minded people, which is a brilliant way to build a sustainable client base.
Maria: How do you want to present yourself? There’s an aspect of you “presenting yourself” in any working environment if you work for someone else in a big office. But it’s the same in your own business. You decide where the line in the sand is. If public-speaking stresses you out, look for other ways of presenting yourself without the live element in front of a big audience. You deifnitely don’t want your customers to feel your discomfort, afterall.
You need to step outside yourself and do an audit of what you are presenting from an objective point of view – that’s where profession support can be game-changing.
Consistency in Communication
Charlotte: Do I always have to be “on brand”?
Maria: Have a think about what you like to see in other people’s content. Do you like an eclectic mix that’s refreshing, surprising and entertaining? Or do you like a cosy familiarity of content that sticks to a consistent theme?
Either way, aim for consistency in communicating your core values and design elements. But if you feel passionate and want to speak out about a current affairs news article, sharing your reaction portrays who you are. It lets your customer know about you. It differentiates you from your competitor, without competing on price or always focusing in on your product. Big brands cannot have a spontaneous reaction to a public interest story quickly, freely or easily, whereas when you are just one person in a brand you can.
So while you don’t only need to show professional images of yourself or stick to restrictive colour palette forever more, every communication should refer back to your key messaging and values.