How to Differentiate a Franchise Business: Build your Personal Brand
One of the chief reasons that people invest in a franchise business is to benefit from an established brand. On the other hand, many aspiring small business owners are concerned that there won’t be enough opportunity to put their own stamp on a franchise unit.
It’s true that many franchises have a fairly rigid set of operating procedures and don’t allow much in the way of deviation. Others, including FPC, expect you to learn and use their proven system – in our case, for executive recruitment – so that you have the best opportunity to succeed. However they also allow you the leeway to personalize your business. FPC owners can institute their own office policies and individualize other elements of their businesses.
However, regardless of how rigid or flexible the rules, you can make any franchise business your own by building your personal brand. Even though as a franchisee you greet customers or walk into a potential client’s office with the credibility of an established brand behind you, in reality your business is you.
What is a Personal Brand?
Just as in a corporate brand, your personal brand establishes an expectation of value and differentiates or positions you in the marketplace. It embodies your personal qualities and your character, as well as your knowledge and expertise – just as a corporate brand incorporates a specific culture into the creation and delivery of products or services. While a company’s brand may be represented visually by a logo, sometimes a personal brand is symbolized by a physical characteristic – like a big smile — or a style element – like a bow-tie or a particular type of eyeglasses.
Building your personal brand happens over time. It’s what you become known for. It’s also your own commitment to continuous improvement.
How do you Build a Personal Brand?
There are many ways to build your personal brand. Here are a few that we’ve found productive.
- Establish thought leadership in your industry. This means sharing your expertise and ideas generously. One of the best ways to establish thought leadership today is to write a blog – like we’re doing here. Writing useful content that helps others understand your business, industry and services not only establishes your credibility but can also lead to actual sales. If you’re more comfortable with the spoken than the written word, do a video blog – or vlog – instead.
- Be visible in the social media that your key audiences frequent.
- Have a good professional portrait taken to use as your ‘avatar’ – the image that represents you online. By the blank squares that show up next to so many LinkedIn profiles and social media posts, many people still don’t know how important these are or how to create and launch them. Go to www.gravatar.com to upload your avatar for free and create your gravatar, or Globally Recognized Avatar. This allows your image to follow you around the internet, to come up next to your name when you engage or comment on blogs, websites and social media. Your gravatar can also come up on many smartphones when you call someone who has you in their contacts, constantly reinforcing your image.
- Become known for one particular aspect of your industry that reflects a specific expertise that you’ve developed. Be the go-to guy or gal for that. Create content around that expertise – write an eBook or record a podcast. You can also create an online radio show on a platform like blogtalkradio.com. Interview other experts and authors. This can really boost your visibility and your credibility at the same time.
- If you do have a style element or physical feature that you’re known for, emphasize it. If you’re known for wearing hats, for example, wear one in your avatar photo. You could use that element in a personal Twitter handle – @hatman or @hatlady. Be a bit careful with this aspect of personal brand building, however. It has to be authentic. Don’t all of a sudden start wearing a bowtie or a strand of pearls just to create a style element that’s identified with you. It will seem strange to those who know you already — your core audience.
- Become active in some industry organization related to your business. Get on a committee, host a webinar, be a speaker on a panel discussion, sponsor an event or program. It will serve you well.
Your franchise business doesn’t have to be ‘cookie cutter’. It can be as unique as you and your personal brand.
If you’ve ever considered – or never considered – exploring a career in executive recruiting, download our free eBook and get an inside look at a typical day as an FPC executive recruiting franchise owner.