Dear Africana Woman,
Hey Gurly. How are you? This week has been epic. Check out my social media for pics. I am not going to get into it because I am bubbling to get out my thoughts.
I have been thinking a lot about personal branding. Most people will talk about your physical appearance and making a positive first impression. Because we all judge a book by its cover. To be honest I struggle with this definition because I have a care free spirit. I am not about being dolled up or putting myself in uncomfortable clothes, which is probably why I have never really worked in a corporate setting. Fortunately all my jobs have been semi formal where I have been granted the chance to express my personal sense of style. However, if getting dolled up is your jam good for you.
But may I propose another definition of Personal Branding. I define it as the way people FEEL when they are in contact with me. Let us be honest, as humans we are very emotionally charged beings. It is not as dramatic as you think. However, 90% of our actions are based on our feelings. For example, why did you choose to eat your last meal? Possibly you felt like you needed comfort food or you felt guilty so you ate a ‘healthy meal’. When you are making a purchase of a car, and you are perusing through your options, in as much as you are looking at mileage and price range you are also considering how that car will make you feel. Will you feel like a boss in that 4x4? Will you feel cute in that mini van? Will you feel confident or proud when you roll up to a function? Listen even when you start dating someone you are looking to validate your feelings. For example, on the first date you are checking whether he eats with his mouth closed so as you can feel confident to present him to your girlfriends. My point is people are usually wrapped up in their feelings. I love this quote
"People will not remember what you did, they will remember how you made them feel."
It is very important to me that as a human and a personal brand that people experience me in a very specific way. In my presence I want people to feel validated, to feel heard, to feel included and to feel safe. I want people to feel like I am their best friend who they can confide in and know that your secrets are safe with me. I also want people to feel like they are not judged in my presence. All of this is not limited to someone’s personal experience of me as an individual. (This is for people with businesses) As a personal brand this also extends into everything that is attached to me. It is my responsibility to train my staff to embody the feelings that I want customers to experience. When it comes to the products every little detail counts in ensuring that people are feeling what I listed above.
In my case, my products are group coaching packages. So let me break it down for you:
Feel Safe - I am very deliberate and intentional about selecting who can be in the programmes. Just because you have money does not qualify you to be in the space. You may have ‘mean girl’ tendencies that would harm the other women in the space. In my groups the women are very open and vulnerable so I cannot afford to have some one lash out with their words or break the privacy of the group by sharing the information with people outside the group. So all the women are vetted and again reminded when signing up what the expectations are. Also some women may need to do work with someone else before they come to me.
Feel Included - The groups are deliberately small so as you do not feel like a number in the crowd. In the space there is no where to hide and you are called by name. In the exercises I encourage each woman to participate, for example on a group call, every single person is allotted time to speak. You know how you go to conferences or are in meetings and there is always this loud person who gets all the attention. In my spaces, I am intentional about giving everyone a chance to participate, whether you are gregarious or introverted.
Feel Heard - there is an art to actually being a good listener. Especially when someone is being vulnerable with you. The first thing you DON’T do is make it about you by always giving an example of how you can relate to them. I think the first thing you have to do is identify what the other person requires from you. Sometimes they just need to vent and not receive your opinion. So you can follow up with a question about how they feel after speaking out their thoughts. Sometimes they need counsel and will specifically ask a question, at which point you can offer an answer, being mindful that your answer is something for their consideration and not the Law of what they must do or believe. Another thing you can do is repeat what they said so as you can determine whether you correctly understood what they were saying. All this to say in my programmes the women have the freedom to speak. Sometimes this may be the first time they are saying something out loud. So it is not my place to dominate the conversation but for them to use their voice as their heart or spirit leads.
Feel validated - validation is about acceptance. You hear me say this all the time. Love yourself flaws n all. So I will love you despite your mistakes. I will love you despite your thoughts that may not always be ‘good’. The things that you think have ostracised you in the past are the things that I will love you most for. I remind my ladies that they are unique. I remind them of the greatness that is in them. I constantly speak life into them.
So you see my clients may not complete my programmes and say the exact words of I felt safe, included, heard and validated. However, their spirit recognised the intention behind the space I created which allowed them to feel comfortable in sharing freely. This gives them permission to experience transformation. Which all goes back to my personal branding and being intentional about the experience that I am providing on an emotional level. Of course when you talk about a physical product, then you look at all things from colours to shapes to texture as they all evoke certain emotions.
In conclusion, in as much as you want your physical appearance to draw people to you, I also want you to seriously consider what they will feel when they do come within your proximity. This is what I want you to do:
Ask yourself, “What experience am I offering to the world?”
List down the emotions you want to evoke in people when they come into contact with you or anything & anyone that is an extension of you
Figure out how you can evoke the emotions.
I hope this helped you today. For whatever reason it has been heavy on my heart this week. Please remember that you need to be genuine in your intentions. People can see when you are faking it from a mile away. I would love to hear what you thought about this topic of personal branding. What has been your experience of it? Let’s talk. You can drop a note in the comments or you can come on over to the Africana Woman Facebook group for a deeper dive into the topic. If you are new here, Hey Darling, so nice to meet you, I cannot wait to get to know you better. Go ahead and subscribe so as you can receive a love letter every Thursday right in your email. Thank you to all my amazing Live-Hard readers. Thank you for coming back week after week. I appreciate you. May I ask a favour? Please share this with a friend or two. Remember, the Africana Woman is trifold; a podcast, a blog and a tribe. Feel free to experience all of them. You are always welcome and free to be you. Catch me during the week on Instagram @Chulu_bydesign. Like I said I would love to get to know you. Alright Honey, love yourself flaws n all, and attract the life that you desire. Have a fabulous week.