Do you hate always comparing yourself to your competitors and feeling as if you need to level up to match them? Worry about failure? Hate being photographed and how you have looked in past photos?
Then Stiefel Creative has solutions to make it easier and more enjoyable to promote your brand.
“But wait,” you say. “I am not a brand. I am a person.”
If “corporations are people, my friend,” as Mitt Romney once asserted, then human beings most certainly can be brands.
I submit that you don’t even have to own a company to want to project the best possible image of yourself for that all important first impression.
Achieving the best possible presentation matters greatly whether you are launching a political campaign, building a website, setting up a social media profile, or putting yourself on an online dating profile.
With so much competing for our limited attention, your personal brand can seize the moment and get your “foot in the door” to sell ‘em on whatever you’re offering.
Defining Your Brand
The original use of the word “branding” was associated with burning an identifying mark or logo into the flesh of an animal on a ranch to let everyone know it was your livestock. More recently, the term “brand” refers to a particular identity or image regarded as an asset.
A brand is what people think of you when they close their eyes and imagine something about you. Is it positive or negative? Is it a good experience they want to let others know about? Is it some aspect of your process or style that was memorable and different from everyone else?
My company helps personal and company brands become strategic in developing these concepts, doing some deep thinking to identify who we want to reach, what message will be most welcome and effective to produce the result we want, develop your brand positioning, and stand out as unique from others amidst so much noise.
When thinking about your brand, understand that a lot of it relies on you. I can create an outstanding messaging strategy or unleash a stunning logo or website promoting you, but the formation of your personal brand also depends greatly on how you perform. Do you offer responsive service or do your customers have to hound you to get what they paid you for?
YOU are your brand, and everything you do shapes that overall perception of you.
Online Brand Management
I combine excellent photography skills with vast knowledge and experience of modern online marketing. This means I create the quality and variety of images an entrepreneur needs in order to elevate their online presence, attract more of their ideal customers and, ultimately, grow their business. I offer the full personal branding experience.
Go ahead and ask your web designer, business coach or professional peer: Quality imagery including a good “head shot” is a must in order to be taken seriously and progress in the competitive marketplace.
Branding can also include other graphic elements such as the attire you wear in photos (that’s what stylists and friends with clothes to borrow are for), the aesthetics of the font used, if any, the quality of the lighting in a portrait, your expression in photos, your presence on camera, etc.
It’s so simple, yet so complicated to put together in just the right combinations. These elements combine and conspire to communicate a variety of concepts like self-confidence, professionalism, personality, and likeability.
In an instant, people choose to like you, envy your style and wish they were more like you on a mostly subconscious level. They want to do business with you. They want to invite you to the party. They want to learn more about what you have to offer them to fill some want or need in their lives.
It’s not about faking it until you make it; fewer things are more critical to branding than authenticity. No, it’s about offering up the best possible version of you to the world.
Online Reputation Management Services
Among the services I offer is a strategic clean-up of your online presence, checking your social media reputation using reputation management tools.
Why do you need this? Maybe you’re looking for a new job. Maybe you did stuff when you were younger and immature that embarrasses you now. Maybe you’re starting a new relationship with potential to go somewhere and want to cover your past tracks to avoid awkward conversations. I dunno.
It’s been said that we change over time and become completely different people roughly every seven years of our lives. There’s no harm in making sure we are putting our best foot forward.
How to Clean Up Your Online Reputation
A person came to me with a tale of being at the wrong place at the wrong time and getting arrested among a group of people nabbed in a prostitution sting at a motel. With this came news coverage as the police and prosecutors were eager to share the results of their operations with a big catch.
Once the case was investigated, my client was cleared of any involvement and all charges dropped. Despite this, his name continued to be linked to the original online news story listing the arrested people.
He tried contacting the news channels to have his name removed, but as a former newspaper man myself, I know that reporters get calls all of the time from people claiming to be innocent and asking that their name be removed from the story floating around on the web. They don’t have time to track down every detail to see if anything has changed, and even if there is a new story written clarifying the updates, that original article still floats around the Internet forever.
The problem for my client was that whenever someone did a Google search of his name, the first result was this awful story in which his named appeared. Appeals directly to Google also failed to change the situation. As a professional applying for a variety of jobs, having his name linked to a pack of criminals was bad news, right? Getting a job is hard enough without adding that to contend with.
We attacked the situation with the aim of pushing the arrest story down to Page 2 of the Google search engine results page (SERP) when typing his name. Essentially, burying the bad mention under a mountain of other stuff that search engines would qualify as more relevant to a simple search query of his name by a recruiter. Making the water a bit muddy, you might say. There’s nothing unethical about it when you are doing it on behalf of someone who was wrongly accused and has a letter from a court officer saying as much.
We launched a website about his professional and personal life with the exact spelling of his name as it appeared in the online news article, thus creating competition within the Google algorithm that sorts out one web site from another. We set up new social media accounts, we commented as him on a variety of pages and forums and social media interactions. We shared his Instagram posts as blog posts, always using his name with the precise same spelling as the news story. I did a ton of SEO work also, carefully naming website pages to target various spellings of his name.
And it worked. For a while. Such an approach requires ongoing maintenance and continuing to add spelling-specific content to make that old news story live on page 2 of the search results. Of course, the client wanted the story completely gone, period. But how often do any of us go to page 2 of SERP. Not many of us.
Unfortunately, once your name appears on Google, it really does become that “permanent record” your teacher warned you about.
How to Remove Personal Information from Google
It IS possible to get content deleted from Google Search Results. The first step is deleting the mention on a site page or deleting the page entirely. If you aren’t controlling the web site on which you are mentioned, you can take legal action to threaten the site owner.
Hopefully they are reasonable enough to avoid that. It’s important to update your browser cache so you aren’t continuing to see a page that has been updated with your change made for you. You will look foolish if you continue to be angry with someone who has done what you asked of them. Learn more about removing your personal information from Google.
Check Your Social Media Reputation
Let’s say you’ve interviewed for a job and have it in the bag pending the outcome of a background check that will include inspection of your social media accounts.
“Oh God,” you suddenly realize, “There are photos of you partying back in the day and blatant uses of profanity.”
Don’t panic. You can use Twitter’s Advanced Search features to enter your search terms into the search bar. Learn more about using Twitter’s Advanced Search. Have fun cleaning up all of those F-bombs you dropped… or you can hire me to do it for you.
You can delete your own Tweets and Facebook Posts, but it becomes more challenging when you’re tagged by friends. I keep my settings so that I have to authorize my account appearing elsewhere before it happens.
Be careful about those porn stars you follow online. If you need a deep scrub, your best bet may be to temporarily suspend your accounts. If you simply can’t stand not being able to blurt out what’s on your mind on Facebook or Twitter, you can always set up an account under an alias, the same way Mitt Romney used a fake name to post criticisms of President Trump that he could not do under his official account.
Online Brand Management
Another service I provide is monitoring your brand for online mentions. It’s so easy for competitors to seed negative uses of your name to discredit you. I’ve seen entire websites set up to mimic originals, essentially stealing your brand out from under you. It’s easy enough to steal images and paste over information to make a similar URL appear legit, siphoning off your sale.
And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve detected a local competitor leaving a terrible review on Yelp! or TripAdvisor, etc., trying to sway users of those third-party review sites and lower the cumulative rating. It’s a nasty rotten thing to do, but it happens a lot.
Clients pay me to check those review sites 2-3 times weekly looking for new reviews and responding on their behalf, using their brand voice. When people are angry or upset (which, really, is the primary motivation for going to the trouble to write a review), I can turn a negative into a positive by showing compassion. Even if the complaining customer isn’t totally happy because he or she couldn’t get free stuff, other people who are checking out a client company’s reviews see that the brand cares, takes the time to promptly address any issues, and wants to make sure all customers are happy.
Influencer Branding Toolkit
As I mentioned before, people can definitely be brands. So-called “influencers” are people who achieve a sort of status as authorities on a given thing, like being skilled fishermen or an expert on modern dance or whatever. If people seek you out to follow because you know your stuff, that makes you an influencer.
And the good thing about being an influencer is that companies are looking for people with an existing following to associate their brand name with, typically with compensation in exchange for promoting them.
My influencer marketing toolkit equips you with the assets you need (photos, bios, etc.) to grow more prominent by appearing more legit, then search out these companies and strike deals with them. That sort of thing begins with hype and appearing to be a bigger deal than you actually are. I help people do that without losing the authenticity that makes them worthy of following online.
Leveling the Playfield for Professionals
I’ve had several people who are within eyesight of retirement telling me they feel intimidated by all of this new technology and the way their younger, more tech-savvy colleagues use it to get an advantage.
They call on me to help them get some skin in that game and revive their relevance. I help them to navigate the often-confusing online environment. Let me tell you, it is constantly changing, which requires us to adapt and try new things as those changes arrive.
I continue my education in online marketing so that other people don’t have to be experts. They have other, better things to consume their time.
Older professionals tend to lack the same zeal to pat themselves on the back that younger people have grown up seeing done. My bio-writing service lets me craft a piece of copy that promotes them in the third person, the way a newspaper article would. Problem solved! They continue to appear humble while I, the interviewer, make them look awesome.
Stiefel Creative is Here to Help Build Your Brand
Ask me about any of the services mentioned here. I look forward to sitting down with you to chat about your aspirations, challenges and putting together a strategic plan to address your wants and needs.
© Blog 2019 Steven Stiefel
All Rights Reserved by Stiefel Creative