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Personal Branding, Authenticity and Trust

By Steve Ancheh

What is branding?

Branding is all about promoting your product & services, or even your business, so they stand apart and above those of your competitors, and will get noticed in a crowd. There’s a lot more to it than just being noticed. A business can be noticed for good reasons as well as bad reasons. Branding is about how you want your business to be perceived, known, and remembered.

Branding is a form of communication with your target audience; telling them not only what products and/or services you are providing, but also the level and quality of that service you are promising. Therefore, every time your customers are engaged with your business, they can expect a definite level of quality. In other words, branding is the promise regarding the quality of a product and/or service that your business is offering.

The customers will continue to engage with your business as long as they continue to trust your brand. Hence, the trustworthiness of a brand is the most important asset of the business, because it is a reflection of how much confidence customers have in your product and/or services. Your capability in building and sustaining that trust will result in your customer’s loyalty to the brand. Building trust is a conscious and planned effort that must be executed continuously.

Today, very often, we hear about the importance of personal branding, especially in the real estate industry. In the same way, as products & services brand themselves, personal branding helps you be recognized. However, personal branding differs from product and services branding, because it is an authentic image of yourself.

It is made up of what makes you tick, your values, your aspirations as well as your imperfections as a human being. This combination of your various attributes (including your human imperfections) is your image, and it is about projecting and planting that image in a positive light in the minds of your target audience. For example, according to Jonathan Jackson (2015), Kim Kardashian’s brand is perceived as that of “D list celebrities who have no talent and contribute nothing to society,” but the brand is, nevertheless, very successful worldwide. The key to successful personal branding is sustaining your perceived image, maintaining consistency in your behavior and service delivery. This is important because branding is about your customer trusting your brand or trusting your ability to deliver your promises consistently. It is less about selling your product and/or services, but more about drawing your customers to you and letting your personal brand sell your product and/or services for you.

Authenticity is what holds your unique features to becoming a personal brand. It is about the genuineness of your absolute self. It’s about not being afraid of showing your true self and being sincere about who you are. According to Michael Hunter (2017), authenticity is a reflection of three major values you have; namely, transparency, vulnerability, and integrity. These are the values that a sales person must demonstrate, especially when they are engaging prospects.

Transparency is about being open and having nothing to hide. For example, whatever the sales person says to the prospect should be backed by real data.

Vulnerability is about your imperfection as a human being. For example, if mistakes have been made, the sales person should own up, apologize for it, and take the initiative to correct them. A genuine apology is always appreciated and usually forgiven.

Integrity is about how honest you are, standing up to what you believe in and not cheating or deceiving the prospects. Without authenticity projected in these three major values, it would be difficult for prospects to relate to you, because they want to be comfortable in relating and engaging with you as a person as well as a professional.

Trust is a huge boost to personal branding. It does not happen by accident, and should not be allowed to just happen by coincidence. It should be a value you hold dear to your heart. In business, trust must be crafted with clear communication. Thus, it is important to understand the elements of trust, or more specifically, what Charles Green (2017) described as the “Trust Equation.”

Trust =                                                           Creditability + Reliability + Intimacy

Self-Orientation

Victor Antonio (2013) said “if your prospect agrees that your product is great, and can see their need for it, agree with the urgency of acquiring it, but still does not buy it, then it is because they don’t trust you.” You can strengthen your trustworthiness with your customers by applying this equation.

Creditability is about establishing your expertise in your area. In the context of real estate for example, it is about demonstrating your knowledge of the industry and saying something believable about the property you are proposing to your prospects. This includes knowing everything about the property and the location.

Reliability is about consistently excelling and going beyond the expectation of your prospects. For example, a prospect would appreciate your reliability if there is zero down-payment given when they come to buy the property. They will be delighted if you now inform them that there is a 10% cash-back too.

Intimacy is about putting the needs of the prospect first and being transparent with them.  A good example is when an IQI top seller quotes “I am from the Top Agency in Malaysia, IQI Realty. This year I want to be the TOP AGENT in our agency, and I can only make it by recommending you something that is worth investing in. Then you bring me tons of referrals.”

Self-orientation is about focusing on oneself and less on a prospect. For example, being concerned about how you look to the extent of not focusing on the needs of the prospects.

Therefore, according to the trust equation, the more a sales person focuses on enlarging creditability, reliability, and intimacy and minimizing self-orientation, the greater will the prospects trust in you and the more your personal branding stands out.

In conclusion, personal branding is a powerful asset that can help you succeed in achieving your goals. It allows you to stand tall amongst the crowd and reach a higher more sustained level of confidence and trust with your clients.

At IQI, you can learn everything you need to know to brand yourself like a champion, grow your skill-set and expand your network. IQI provides you with a platform that can help you reach your potential in the real estate and even go beyond. When you think of growth, think IQI.

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