What is brand? Often even marketing professionals don’t have an answer for this simple question. Some define a brand as a name, sign, or symbol used to identify items or services of the seller to differentiate them from the competition. Others define a brand as a promise or a pledge to deliver satisfaction and quality. A brand has also been defined as a set of assets linked to a name or symbol that adds value to the end user. Confused? Indeed, the word “brand” has many definitions.To me, the best definition of a brand is “a collection of perceptions” that is designed to influence a customer or an end-user. As such, whether you are an executive at a Fortune 500 company, the owner of a small business, an electrician or a recent college graduate, creating a strong personal brand may be the difference between success and failure, between getting that job or not getting that job.No matter where you are in your career, with the surge of social media, you not only have the ability, but you have the need to manage your brand, both online and in real life. Remember, a brand is the emotional and psychological relationship one has with customers, employers, employees, etc. Strong brands elicit opinions, emotions, and physiological responses.Your goal in building your strong personal brand is to develop positive perception associated with your name. Perceptions such as honest, smart, eager, inventive, forward looking, team player, expert, etc.. are all important traits that employers look for in their employees. As you build your brand, think of your strengths and weaknesses, look at the traits in which you not only excel at, but need to elaborate on to enhance your brand.Even when developing a personal brand, logos are an important as they are a representation of the brand. Logos are the “shortcut” to the brand. Clearly logos evoke emotion, when we see the Starbucks circle, we think of freshly brewed coffee, looking at AFLAC, we think of that crazy duck, and so on. Think of a simple logo that you would like people to associate with you and your brand. Logos for personal brands should be simple, clear and understated. Most individuals choose to use either a small geometric figure, their initials or just their name in a particular font as their personal brand logo. A logo makes your card, CV and emails stand apart from the others. Remember, your personal brand is most likely your name, and perhaps a tagline, such as financial executive or marketing expert, and so on.Given brands are not concrete, but are the thoughts, feelings, and psychological relationships between two or more parties, your brand is the foundation of all your marketing activities, determining the position and strength of your entire marketing framework. Just like a house foundation needs to be strong to hold up a building, your marketing foundation must be solid. In other words, your brand must be the truth and it must be about you.Personal branding yields both internal and external benefits. Externally, you create an identity that resonates with employers, potential employers and customers. Your brand needs to form emotional relationships with the people you are trying to reach. This is important because often people don’t buy products or hire individuals based on logic, they often act based on their emotions and perceptions.Your personal brand should act as an internal compass, driving you in the correct direction in all your actions. Every action you take will either reinforce or weaken your personal brand. A clear personal brand will set a clear understanding of what you are about.Your personal brand is defined by all your actions. Your personal brand is the sum of many factors such as the clothing that you wear, your body language, the way you handle yourself in business and in personal activities, your personal style i.e. grooming, hair style etc.There are several key steps on how to successfully build your personal brand.Step one- Research and reflection. Before you develop your brand, you must define your core values, mission and goals. You need to analyze your audience and competition and establish your uniqueness, i.e. what makes you different from the competition. A solid brand will make you standout, giving you an advantage over competition. While this may be a subtle advantage, it is indeed an advantage.Your personal brand is defined by all your actions. It is the sum of many factors such as the clothing that you wear, your body language, the way you handle yourself in business and in personal activities, your personal style i.e. grooming, hair style etc. and the people who you associate with. Take care in this step, as it is the foundation to your brand. Remember, your personal brand is basically the way you market yourself to the world.In sum, the first step of developing a personal brand is simply defining who you are and what message do you want to deliver.Step two- Define your logo and tagline. Once you determine personal brand, including your unique selling proposition, then define your tagline and logo. As discussed previously, your logo should be simple and understated, preferably your initials or a geometric design. Regardless of what type of logo you use, once it is developed, use it everywhere and anywhere. Use it in all your social media profiles, use it on your letterhead, your business cards (yes, order good quality personal business cards), email signatures, any press releases, etc. Your goal is to have people recognize your logo, hence your brand and your name.Please don’t get hung up on finding and thinking about a logo, a monogram or your name in simple text may be perfect. Indeed, the simpler the better. No matter what you choose, it is important that you stay consistent. For instance, if you determine your name will be in a certain font in a certain color, make sure this is the case all your communications i.e. your letterhead for your resume and cover letter, your digital signature and so on.As stated earlier, a logo is a shortcut to your brand. Just think of logos, such as a swoosh, an apple, and good ole Col. Sanders, and think how quickly Nike, Apple, and KFC come to mind.Your tagline should be several words that you believe describe you, professionally. Your tagline should be a very brief title or summary. In my career, I use several taglines: global financial executive, global banking expert, an accomplished author, or cost-saving specialist depending on the audience I want to reach. Warning: It is imperative to use this approach with extreme caution, as you do not want to confuse your audience, which may dilute the power of your brand. Your personal brand statement is merely a more detailed tagline, a sentence or two describing you and how you want the public to know you.Step three -Develop your online reputation. Create a personal website tied to your first and last name. Use your logo and branding here. If you do not have a personal website, this is a must. It is cheaper and easier than many people think. Please look to future newsletters on how to create a personal website. As sure as the sun is going to rise tomorrow, your potential customers and employers will search your name to gather information on you, your personality, your career history, education and personal life, etc. After all, we all “Google” the people that we meet or speak to over the course of the day, especially those whom we want to impress or get to know better.Build a solid brand name with online activities that will promote your personal mission, highlight your career achievements and illustrate your goals for the future. Just as it is important to build a positive brand, is equally, if not more important to protect yourself against any negatives factors influencing your brand.Scrub your name, clean. It never ceases to amaze me how many people ignore this very important step. Start by reviewing the various social media sites in which you participate. Remember, you are no longer that 16-year-old wanting to impress your friends, enemies, and the “love of your life”. Make sure that these sites are scrubbed of anything, repeat anything, that could negatively influence your reputation. Look at postings, pictures, tweets, and any other activity that would be viewed negatively. Remember, potential customers or employers may not look favorably at that picture of you and your buddies guzzling beer out of a funnel at that frat party, wearing togas. My motto is when in doubt, hit delete. But remember, once things enter cyberspace, it really never leaves it. So going forward, do not post anything online that you do not want to see on the front page of the Wall Street Journal.After that task, search your name in various search engines and look to address any negative items that you can. While I’m not suggesting you should represent yourself as PollyAnn on social media, because people won’t believe that either, it is however important that you stress the positives and minimize the negatives. Most people want to hire the boy or girl next-door or someone that reminds them of themselves or someone they wish they were at your age.Step four -Write a blog. Find something that you are interested in and write about it. It does not need to be a work of art, another War and Peace, but it should be a short and pithy posting that informs the reader about something that you know, but they may not know. This is your chance to express some personality, so that potential employers can see another side of the multidimensional you. A word of warning, play it safe. Avoid controversial subjects in your blog in order to limit the chance of offending potential employers. Unless it is important to your career, do not touch on hot subjects such as politics, religion…Writing a blog does several things, it is a source of information for your connections, it establishes you as a knowledgeable well-rounded person, and it keeps you in the forefront of people’s minds. Do not underestimate the power of a short one-page article.In addition to the external benefits, writing a blog keeps you interested in current events, develops your writing skills, and provides a level of discipline, assuming that you committed to writing your blog several days per week (which is highly recommended). Now that you wrote your blog, post it anywhere you can. Post it on your website, your social media activity pages i.e. LinkedIn, Facebook, twitter and post it to as many blogs as you can find.The fifth and final step discussed in this series is participation. Now that you have a brand, an outlet for your brand i.e. your website and the blog, you need to get as many people as possible to see you and your work. There are many ways of accomplishing this, one of the easiest ways is commenting on other people’s blogs, most likely they will return the favor. Moreover, it is yet another way to get your name out in social media. It is important however to keep your comments short, to the point, and non-confrontational especially if you have a different point of view. While you may add additional facts to support your point of view, it is likely better not to comment on that particular post. There are always other ones.Now that you have your brand defined, your logo and personal statement developed and an active website you have completed the first steps in creating a brand. Going forward, think of everything you do as influencing your brand.
What ever happened to the plain, brass door knob on your entry door? Well, to be honest, it is becoming as rare as brass in decorating new homes. Nickel and chrome are the new bright or antique brass. You can have polished nickel, brushed chrome, or a clear chrome that adds to the look of your new home.Where browns and creams were once the color scheme of choice, we now have shades of white and black, making brass handsets a faux pas. Your door entry handlesets should represent your style, and show off the rest of the metal in the home. You want a complimentary color and finish to your decorating theme, so if you want to choose the right handleset for your new home, then you need to look at the other colors in your home.If you have a lot of stained wood, hard wood floors, and an ‘autumn’ color scheme in your home, bright brass or antique brass are definitely a must. If you have a log cabin style home, look at antique or distressed brass. If you have a modern style of home with sharp angles, and blacks and whites with modern art in the living room, a front door that screams new and fresh, then a chrome or nickel handleset is appropriate for you.Those who find themselves somewhere in between need to look at a high quality, oil rubbed bronze handlset for their new home. Oil rubbed bronze starts out nearly black, and as it is used, will eventually have hints of bronze peak through the finish. It gives the dark, matte colors of a modern home, but also allows for a touch of old world class in the bronze seeking to appear through the rest. If you are looking for a handleset for a modern home and are looking to save some money, then your option may be a simple, matte white handleset. White, like Black, will go with most hardware styles, looks OK on painted wood, or vinyl (but not so much as stained wood), and is typically significantly cheaper than a metallic finished handleset.Lever handles are becoming the rage over knobs, too. Whether you want an old world look or something new and modern, the lever handle can accommodate you. It brings more attention to the handleset, and lets the visitor’s eye travel to the different uniting themes in your decoration.
Knowing how to increase website traffic and actually achieving it aren’t necessarily the same things. Does that seem like an obvious statement? Perhaps it’s not as obvious as it appears. Although there are a multitude of ways to increase traffic to your web site many of the most common methods are now really only short term.Short term methods are okay if you’re only looking to promote a product for a quick marketing fix; such as a new affiliate product. But then you have to make a choice; continue with the original promotion or move onto the next one. Generally most people will move onto the next one.This in fact suits quite a number of people more because they enjoy creating new promotional campaigns, setting it all up and driving traffic to it. But then they get a bit bored and want to move on. So instead of focussing on what they know about how to increase website traffic they prefer to start again on a new project. This is great for people who know how to get traffic on a scale large enough to generate sales.But not everyone can do that, it’s especially difficult if you are a one person business and have to do everything yourself. Plus there is a fair bit of competition in that market which makes it difficult to break into straight away. If it’s going to take time to build a profitable business doesn’t it make more sense to concentrate on long term methods to increase traffic to your web site?Generally there are two specifics involved here:
You already have a reputation for being very good at what you do and therefore have a number of followers who will link to and promote your online endeavours.
You write something that is so compelling, authoritative and unique that others pick it up and spread the word. This is known as linkbait.Both methods are extremely liked by Google and will generate quality traffic and push you up the search engine results. But naturally the first one takes a little time and will only manifest if or when you get good at the second one. Is it a double edged sword? I guess the answer to that depends on your own point of view.Ideally to run the type of short term type business mentioned above you need to have both one and two specifics at your disposal. That means you have to work hard to increase the traffic to your web site or know some heavy duty marketers that can post your promotional content out for you. In most cases people will fall into the first category and have to work hard.Fortunately you don’t have to work that hard and there a re few little tricks you can use to increase to power and reach of the content you create.How To Increase Website Traffic With A Linkbaiting Strategy.To some people the linkbaiting idea can seem a little complex or even unattainable but that’s to do with mindset and you must change that. Anyone can write linkbait articles and content. It’s just a matter of creating something that others will want to read or view; something of interest to the market you are involved in.Examples of this could be:
Top tips about how to achieve a specific goal.
Something funny.The main thing to consider is that anything you create is unique, useful and actually works if its tip based. It’s of no use to anybody if it’s just a bunch of theoretical or untested ideas. That sort of content won’t build a reputation.Another important factor to consider is remaining unique. Don’t copy what others do. Yes you can and should emulate quality but don’t just copy what someone else does. It very seldom works and you’ll never really achieve the same results as the person and site you copy. That is in fact the major downfall of most internet marketing products. It’s the same reason why so many people struggle to increase site traffic and generate any real money (if that’s what they strive for).Linkbait content is most often talked about as an article or articles that you post on a site and submit to other sites like social bookmarking and article sites. They are the types of places that you can generate interest and pick up followers. But you can take it much further than that.Once you’ve written (or had written for you) some quality content you don’t have to stop at just posting them as articles to your site and various other relevant places. You can create free reports and post them to directories, create videos, put together a power point presentation and pretty much do whatever you can think of to make it all go further.Another very good option is to begin collecting names and e-mail addresses. You can do that with the free reports you put together. Having a list of names available to you is free traffic whenever you have something new to say or promote. You can give your subscribers your free reports with giveaway or resell rights and allow them to promote for you. This is known as viral traffic and is a highly effective method to increase traffic to your web site.Many successful marketers focus heavily on free report marketing because it is very effective. Unique and quality content is always the key to success in any of your promotions. Follow the crowd and you’ll likely get the same results as them. Veer off slightly and forge your own path and its much more likely that you’ll achieve better results. You’ll also learn how to increase website traffic in a way that makes you an authority in your field and picks up the followers that will promote you further than you ever could by yourself.
Our pets are now suffering from many of the same chronic health problems that we see in our own bodies, and for the same reasons, an accumulation of toxins that from various sources that our bodies are unable to get rid of. Many of the conditions now affecting our pets hardly existed 40 years ago. Their immune systems are breaking down due to poor diet, over vaccination, overuse of medications and antibiotics, and exposure to environmental toxins inside and outside the home.There are many sources from which these toxins come, and as responsible pet owners, we need to be aware of them and know what we can do to help our pets by reducing exposure to these harmful toxins and also by cleansing their bodies naturally to help them eliminate the accumulations of these toxins that cause disease.Common Sources of Toxins Exposed to Our Pets:* Commercial Pet Food filled with chemical preservatives, many of which are cancerous
* Drugs and Antibiotics – including flea collars and drops
* Plastics in chew toys and food & water dishes
* TAP WATER
* Grooming Products that contain chemicals
* Fertilizers & Pesticides
* Home Cleaning Products
* Teflon Cookware – the fumes when cooking are toxic and can kill birds
* Fire Retardants and Antimicrobials in pet bedding and accessories
* Excessive use of “antibacterial” cleaning products and soaps cause resistance to common bacteria and increase the development of “Super Bugs”.Signs to look for that your pet is toxic include; constipation, diarrhea, skin rashes, allergies, hot spots, cancers, parasites, urinary tract infections, kidney and liver problems, etc. Any chronic skin and coat condition is a sign of toxicity because toxins accumulate and are stored in fat and skin cells.What Can We Do to Protect Our Pets?1. The most important step that you can take immediately is to begin giving your dog or cat purified, ionized alkaline water instead of tap water. Alkaline water is simply water the way it was intended before our environment became what it is. It will help your pet eliminate toxins, absorb nutrients properly, and keep more toxic wastes from building up. It should be the only water your pet (and you!) should ever drink.2. Make sure your pet is eating a high quality, ALL NATURAL food. Consult your holistic veterinarian for the recommended food for the breed of dog or cat that you have. Only feed all natural treats and avoid feeding table food to your pets.3. Do not use antibiotics or other drugs for your pets unless absolutely necessary. There are many natural treatments available for common health conditions in pets, especially when it comes to allergies, rashes, hot spots, ear and eye infections, and other skin and coat conditions. This applies to topical creams, ointments and sprays as well. Instead of an antibiotic, use an all natural first aid spray for cleaning wounds or to stop itching.4. Speak with a holistic veterinarian regarding what vaccinations are necessary and which are not for your dog’s or cat’s breed and lifestyle. Over vaccinating can cause life long health issues for your pet.5. Lastly, there are many products available now that are made to be safe and non-toxic for our pets including their toys, bedding and accessories. There are all natural home cleaning products, specifically designed for pet safety, that are also much safer for you and your children as well. With the growing concern and awareness regarding toxins that are destroying the health of our pets, many new all natural and non-toxic products have become available.To most of us, our pets are a part of the family and their health and well-being is very important to us. Let’s do our part as responsible “pet parents” in finding natural solutions to treat our pets!