Have you found yourself asking questions about branding? It’s to be expected. I coach and teach on the topic of branding, and I’m often grilled with questions similar to those below.
What’s a brand and why do I need one?
Okay, brand me — in fifteen minutes.
I don’t think I have a brand.
I think I’m just one of those people that can’t be limited to just one thing.
I don’t really need a brand, do I?
If you take away nothing else from this blog, take this—YOU are your brand. You (fill in your name) are your brand. I, Suzanne Brooks Kuhn (or SuzyQ), am my brand. Intentional or not, your brand is already defining you. Embrace it.
Today, I am an author, speaker, and entrepreneur who is in the midst of a company rebrand. When I launched SuzyQ more than eight years ago, I had no idea what a brand was. I chose a company name that played off the pronunciation of my last name Kuhn, pronounced Qune, and gave a nod to my childhood nickname, only used by my dad, SuzyQ. That was my great master plan. Eight years ago, I also only envisioned working with authors who were also speakers to assist them with their live interactions and sales at their book tables. Unbeknownst to me, I launched a brand limited to me alone with no vision beyond that moment in time. My original tagline, making your words an event, fits better now. It was a confusing tagline with no indication of what exactly SuzyQ offered. My tagline was so misguided that when I was initially recommended to Carol Kent and Bonnie Emmorey as a potential faculty, I was passed over—they “didn’t need event planners.” But here’s my good news—it requires less effort to right a ship in motion than it does to move one from a standstill. And here’s your good news—if you have no brand, are misbranded, have a confusing brand, you’ve got all you need to launch or expand your brand.
Let’s start by taking a look at the three key elements to discovering and developing your brand.
- Who you are.
Who are you at your core? Who are you as a writer and speaker? Who are you personally? Who are you professionally? What are your core topics? Do you have a catchphrase or favorite words? What do you like? What don’t you like? Do any or all of these preferences show up across your platform?
- Who you want to be.
Every one of us, no matter how amateur or accomplished, are where we are today. Profound, I know. But in our hearts we often have a God-given dream or aspiration of the direction in which we are going. Today you might be a speaker. But in five years you may want to be an author of three books. Or maybe right now you are a blogging pre-school mom but in five years you want to be writing parenting books. Today you may be writing devotionals and occasionally keynoting for your church’s women’s ministry but you desire to be writing and teaching women’s bible studies. Who do you want to be? What’s your big, secret wish that you haven’t even dared to think or whisper out loud? Today’s the day to shout it out.
- Who you are perceived to be.
What those around us, in our audience–our target market, think of us is crucial. Ever heard the saying, “can’t see the forest for the trees”? We are in the thick of our own call, leaving us blind to perspective that can only be revealed by others. What do others say about you? What words do you often hear when others describe you? What descriptive have you heard from a brief encounter with a stranger? Pay attention. Write these gems—these key words and phrases—down.
Ultimately, your brand is your promise. Your brand allows your audience–reader, listener, publisher, agent and anyone else, to know what to expect when interacting with you. That means your speaking, writing, blog, social media, videos, and photos—all of you. You want your brand today to grow with you in the years to come.
You are your brand. With prayer, God’s guidance, and the help of those who do and do not know you well, you can not only embrace a brand, you can find freedom within its parameters.
Meet Suzanne at the Speak Up Conference