Welcome to the blog

Welcome to the blog

        I love the idea of having a little space to yourself, a little nook, a corner that is all your own to make what you want of it. That’s the way I look at branding, and that’s the reason I prefer the word niché. Not only does it sound really rad, but it can be traced back to the French word “nicher” which literally means to “make a nest.” Isn’t that just the coolest? The way I look at it, that’s quite an accurate way of describing what it’s like to build your brand. You gather all these little leaves and twigs (little bits and pieces of who you are and what represents you) and you piece them together in such a way that just screams you. Like a bird knows its nest and like other birds can recognize a nest not their own, so also creatives become intimately acquainted with their nests because they often are the ones who built it from the ground up.
        I’m already in love with my classes this semester, and the reason isn’t that they are particularly easy or that my teachers cancel class all the time. When I chose to be a communications major as a freshmen, I could never have dreamed of opening my own business over a year later. But I did! And I never imagined taking classes while simultaneously using the knowledge I gained in class to further enhance my business strategies. This semester I am in a graphic design, marketing, management, and persuasion class. And so much of what I learn has applied directly to my business already. That’s the great thing about a small business. Oftentimes, you can take what you learn in your everyday life and apply it to your endeavor without paying an arm and a leg to invest in education for hundreds of employees.
        On the flip side, though, being the only one in your business can also be intimidating. The business world is like a bottomless pit with new ventures starting up every day. It can get super overwhelming. But grasping a clear idea of what you want your personal brand to look like is the best and most crucial place to start. Once you adopt a signature calling card of sorts by which clients can recognize you, marketing becomes way easier.
Start with what you know. Everyone has a personal brand whether they realize it or not! I know it’s hard to make accurate universal statements, but I am certain of this one. A personal brand is definitely a prerequisite to opening a business, but a business is not a prerequisite to creating/building a brand. This is good news! While realizing that everything you say, do, or post online has an effect on your personal brand can be intimidating, it’s actually an empowering truth! It means that building your brand doesn’t have to mean starting from scratch but rather cleaning up the cloudy places and rounding out the edges. What’s your style? How is your home decorated? What are your favorite accessories? Everything from your new-found hobbies to your makeup bag gives you a clue as to what your unique brand is. 
         I’ve been going through a hardcore 80’s phase and have been watching a bunch of movies and TV shows from that decade. One of my all-time favorites is Magnum, P.I. basically because Tom Selleck is such a heartthrob, and I’m just a sucker for detective shows especially if they’re funny. But here’s my point. When I say Magnum, P.I. what comes to your mind? That classic red Hawaiian shirt he wears all the time. His thick manly mustache that is signature Tom Selleck. The bright red Ferrari he drives. You know he’s Thomas Magnum not only because of the way he acts but also because of the things he wears and the all-around image he portrays. Get the idea? What would come to people’s minds if I said your name?
        Discover stuff no one’s thinking about. How did Crocs become a thing? Why did Facebook get so popular so quickly? When did #ManCandyMonday catch on? Every fad that has ever come to be has started with something no one was thinking about. All it took was one person to have an idea and to present that idea in a creative way to get people to notice the thing they had been overlooking and join in with the crowd. 
        Give it time. This is closely linked to the one above. By virtue of the fact that you’re drawing attention to places where it hasn’t been directed before, it will take some time for people to notice. Your brand might the most unique or eye-catching thing the world has ever seen, but like any genius that ever lived, you don’t become a Mozart overnight. Vincent van Gogh’s first painting was not The Starry Night. In my opinion, though, patience is one of the hardest parts.
        Surprise and delight your followers. This is one of the most basic marketing secrets in the book. Think about the biggest and brightest brands, the ones that have your undying loyalty. Most likely, they caught you by surprise with the way they did something at some point when they interacted with you and charmed their way to a spot in your heart. Do that with your followers. Audience analysis is an important thing. Who are you talking to? What do they need? How can you deliver in an exceptional way? It’s a foolproof formula!
        You do you. This single principle is the most important and the reason you even began this adventure in the first place. When you set out to build your little nest, your niché, you did so because you believed that the world needed a little more of you in it. You had something to tell the world, and you wanted to say it so that people would listen. Don’t ever lose sight of that. Don’t ever get off the path of your YOU-ness. Because when you sacrifice your individuality for the sake of blending in, you lose much more than just a personal brand. 
        So here’s my charge to you for this week. Know who you are. Become intimately acquainted with what sets you apart and the experiences that have molded you into the person you’ve become. Then, let your mind wander to imagine the world of possibilities that comes with presenting yourself creatively to your audience. Stay sweet, friends! You’re doing great things! 

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September 13, 2015

Building your niché | Personal Branding

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Nichole Lauren is a photographer & business coach in Greenville, SC & available for travel worldwide.

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