As a speaker, your brand is the key to your success and what sets you apart. Starting out as an emerging speaker can be tough.
You have the subject matter and a desire to change the world with your message, but you may not have considered the creation of your brand or how it will determine the future success of your business.
Knowing what I now know about starting a business, defining a personal brand, and getting started in the world of professional speaking, I would say this to those starting out: don’t waste too much time and money on creating a logo, business cards and a website. Instead, develop your brand and focus on getting it to work for you.
Create a recent, professional-looking profile page on LinkedIn and capitalise on this social platform to build relationships and share valuable content so that people will be able to find you. People will be drawn to your story and find it easier to relate to you as a result. A business card or logo is pointless unless you have a following.
So, how do you get started building a brand?
” A brand is much more than a logo. It is a way of being, what you stand for and how you make a difference in the world. “
This can be tough for people entering the speaking business. According to Lois Creamer, an expert in the speaking industry, the US Meeting Industry Association reports that inquiries for speakers have increased by 5% in the last twelve months. Whilst this may be cause for optimism, it means that competition among speakers vying for platforms will also have risen and will become as challenging as ever.
A simple Google search for keynote speaker or professional speaker will produce thousands of results from which to choose. If you are a speaker who has a broad topic of expertise (e.g. leadership or culture), then creating a stellar brand and consciously positioning yourself will set you apart from those thousands of others.
So, how do you construct a personal brand that enables you to carve out a niche, create a reputation, and make a positive difference with your message?
” It takes nothing to join the crowd. It takes everything to stand alone” – Hans F Hansen
If you have only a bland or static brand, you will blend in and be hard to find. You will get lost amongst numerous others out there, despite the importance of your message.To construct your brand needn’t be expensive or seem gimmicky. Your brand should be authentic; it is your essence, and it constantly evolves. That’s why I love the concept of the brand tree.
Introducing the brand tree
The brand tree is such a simple and wonderful metaphor to use to describe an approach to building a brand as a speaker.
Consider your brand as having the same essential components as a tree: roots, trunk, branches and leaves. If you invest time and energy in the different parts of the tree, it will, at the right time, thrive and become easily differentiated within the forest of trees, whilst others, left untended, will wilt and wither.
Brands, like trees, depend upon a healthy seed and root system. This is the foundation from which everything springs. This solid foundation is required to support the life and growth of your brand. If a good seed (your ideas and purpose) is planted and well-nurtured, it sprouts and develops roots which, if strong, will take hold. Conversely, a weak root system will result in a weak brand.
What is your purpose?
Your purpose is the brand’s seed. This is where your story begins to take shape. This is the human element behind your brand. People are fascinated about your why, and so your purpose becomes the essence of your brand’s personality.
What are your roots?
Your vision and your values make up part of the root system. This is the heart of your brand. Take the time to define each of your personal values and use those values to guide your decisions. Once the roots are established, the rest of the tree begins to flourish. In other words, the purpose and personality of your brand must be communicated and understood.
As you begin your speaking career, be clear on your purpose and your values, because when things get tough, you need to be willing to persevere, to be prepared for setbacks, and to do the hard work. There is the skill of speaking and stagecraft to consider, but there is also a lot to learn about business.
Your values are the compass that guides your brand as a speaker
Begin by identifying your values because they will be the compass that guides you.
When roots become anchored in soil, the trunk of the tree then forms. The trunk gives the tree its structure, strength and shape. The trunk of your brand is your positioning; that is, how you differentiate and set yourself apart from other brands. This part of your brand will shift, evolve and adapt to better fit the environment.
The trunk is can be understood as the how. It is your methods and processes and the way you act to consistently achieve results for yourself and your clients. Your processes and methods should be versatile and adaptable.
As a speaker, you will need to adapt and to evolve at all stages to avoid becoming stale and irrelevant. Understand what is going on in the market. There is an abundance of speakers, and there are self-appointed experts who appear; unfortunately, there are also people who may copy your ideas. Don’t be disheartened – a copy-cat will not be able to copy your essence, as that is unique to you. There is no need to lose sleep over it. If someone copies you, create something new and better.
The final component of your brand tree is the leaves.
Think of the leaves as the decoration or the first appearance. This is what people see and what draws them in initially. Although they are highly visible, unless the leaves have a solid structure and root system, the overall brand tree will be unsustainable. Shiny, perfectly formed leaves may catch attention as they blow in the breeze, but without the solid foundation and support structure of the other components, the leafy visual brand will soon fade. You must be able to back up style with substance; there must be more to what is seen on the surface.
The leaves include elements of your brand’s appearance, such as how you dress, the way that you present and handle yourself, the level of service you provide, the value and content that you deliver and the materials you use, such as brochures, slides, cards, images and social pages, etc.
Now, picture your brand as a tree. What sort of tree is it? Does it blossom and bloom? Is it resilient to environmental changes?
The seed and its roots determine the health of a tree. The same goes for your brand, so lay a solid foundation. This part cannot be hurried. Tend to the roots and be patient while they take hold.
About the author
Lisa Evans helps leaders and entrepreneurs to craft compelling business stories and become exceptional speakers. Lisa is a certified speaker coach, TEDx speaker coach, four times author, NLP practitioner, graphic recorder, sketchnote creator and improvisational actor.
She has coached thousands of leaders across a range of industries, including resources, banking, finance, engineering, retail and sales as well as not-for-profit and community associations.
If you wish to access a complimentary session in order to chat about how you can become an exceptional and successful speaker with a stand-out brand, then use this link to book a time to chat.
My services include:
Business Storytelling Coaching – together we can get started to create your suite of stories. A minimum of three sessions is recommended 1:1 in person or virtually via Zoom.
Executive Speaker Coaching – if you have an upcoming guest speaking opportunity, funding pitch, conference talk or you want to be an outstanding speaker, we can work together on your technique. You will see the results after one session.
Storytelling for Leaders Interactive Workshops – I can come to you, or we can host a workshop offsite for your team. From half-day to two-days immersive, this customised workshop is an ideal way to kick start your business storytelling strategy and get the whole team telling stories.
Keynote/Guest Speaking at your next conference or event – I have several topics to choose from ranging from a 30-minute talk up to a 90-minute interactive session.