Individual branding, more than any other form of branding requires probing questions, sometimes to the point where the subject feels uncomfortable. This delving in to personal values, motivations and hopes for the future is becoming increasingly important in social media driven world. In 2012, superficial brands are spotted very quickly. It is simply not realistic to put yourself ‘on stage’ 24/7/365 – attempting to do so will be counter productive.
As part of our individual branding processes rt Strategy asks questions that provoke responses from the heart and runs clients through online tests that identify their instinctive method of operation. This forms a foundation on top of which an the brand can be built.
In 2011 rt Strategy worked extensively with three individuals to develop their brand.
S3 Consulting – The Beginning
When Shannan Schimmelmann of Absolute Business Consulting approached us for help with branding she was facing a dilemma many solopreneurs face – do I spend my time, effort, energy (& money) building recognition for my company name, or my own name.
Often this question can be answered by asking another question. Do your business plans include expansion of your client- or public-facing team beyond yourself? Or, to clients and the public, is your business simply YOU.
If the answer is the former, the business brand should be given more focus and attention. If the later is true, then the focus should be on the individual.
The answer, however is not always clear cut. A consultant that flies solo most of the time may add temporary team members for specific projects. There may also be issues in using a person’s own name as the name for a their business activities. Examples would be a name that is particularly common, perhaps even duplicated within their industry and community; or a name that is particularly complex, difficult to pronounce or easily misspelled.
After exploring motivations, values and business plans with Shannan, a decision was made. The brand would move towards a much more personal brand, but not go the whole distance to Schimmelmann Consulting or similar.
An iterative naming process was engaged in and, after careful thought, S3 Consulting was born – the name representing Shannan’s initials (her middle name also begins with an ‘S’) as well as the consultancy’s new tagline – Strategy, Solutions, Success.
S3 Consulting – The Roll Out
Following the naming decision and a documentation of vision, mission, values and positioning, rt Strategy set about creating a visual style for S3 Consulting. This included logo, logo variants, colour palate and typographic guidelines.
Of particular note is the S3 Consulting logo which includes an abstract icon that some interpret as 3 sails catching the wind to provide direction. Others interpret it as it was intended – as 3 feathers which (a) give a nod towards the First Nations communities that S3 Consulting often works with and (b) represent ‘feathers in your cap’ i.e. success and achievement.
Further roll-out included a professional photo shoot directed by rt Strategy, stationery and website.
Bernard Schilles – The Beginning
Bernard Schilles is the Founder and President of Corvalis, a consulting and training firm operating in Europe and North America since 1997. Bernard initially approached rt Strategy for help with localizing French content for his consulting firm, but after some initial conversations it became apparent that a different strategy was required to achieve Bernard’s objectives: the development of a personal brand that would bring out Bernard’s true character and allow him to connect on a more personal level with a C-Level audience.
Through a series of meetings and iterations a brand platform document was developed. To a great extent this simply articulated the thoughts, vision and mission that Bernard already held within him.
Additional components to the brand platform document included a simple signature, colour palate and typographic guidelines. A professional photoshoot was also commissioned and directed by rt Strategy.
Bernard Schilles – The Roll Out
Most implementations of Bernard’s personal brand are customized for an individual recipient in the form of introductory letters and proposal documents. rt Strategy provided the tools to allow Bernard to create these on an ongoing basis.
As well as the Brand Platform Document rt Strategy designed an example mini-brochure for an educational target market, providing the document in both Adobe In Design and Micorsoft Word formats in order that Bernard could individualize each implementation and either print in-house or output as a PDF for electronic distribution.
Nick Kellet – The Beginning
Nick Kellet is an innovator in the fields of technology and gaming. In January 2011 Nick approached rt Strategy with a desire to bring structure to his online presence and create a visual identity for himself.
Nick’s new personal brand was to be one that would help him explore opportunities rather than help achieve specific personal and business objectives. This was not to be a brand for ‘a consultant’, ‘a writer’, ‘a developer’, ‘a community leader’, ‘an investor’ or ‘a photographer’, but one for an individual who combined characteristics of all of those. One for an individual who had recently left a C-level role and was embarking on a year of discovery and change.
Deliverables were to be a logo, a website and new, professional photography particularly for social media use.
Nick Kellet – The Roll Out
Nick’s logo uses orange and purple colours to reflect energy and wisdom. The icon consists of a scribble, loosely in the shape of a light bulb to represent the rabble of ideas that is within an innovator. There is then a white ‘spark of genius’ within that rabble of ideas. This is all wrapped in curly brackets, as often used in website/database code, to represent the arena of technology.
Nick’s website is a simple WordPress implementation with a focus on a multi-streamed blog. Imagery from the professional photo shoot commissioned and directed by rt Strategy is also featured. The site serves as a co-ordinating hub for Nick’s online presence, which also includes Twitter, Linked In, Facebook, Foursquare, Pinterest, List.ly and various other platforms.