A Star is Born


By Tracy Ho | Personal branding is a strategic concept. It’s about creating and taking control of the ideal perception a person wants others to have of them. “Branding is not my priority” is something we often hear in the startup community. I hold a different view.


It’s essential for startup founders to build and strengthen their personal brand and the sooner, the better. A smart and successful personal brand will give you an edge to win more business and accelerate growth. If you ask any angel investor or venture capitalist what they look for in a winning startup, they’ll say that they invest in the person, not the business.


Communication is crucial


The first and most important part of personal branding is to find the niche that rightly positions you in the market and communicate it clearly, concisely, and consistently.


Proper brand positioning makes the promise that you can capture your target audience in ways your competitors can’t. Your personal brand positioning statement, if crafted and communicated well, sets you apart from your peers, helps you gain trust, and wins stakeholders over.


Not sure how to craft your statement? Try the simple 4W1H formula: in 150 words, tell others who you are, what you do, where your target audience is, why you started the business, and how you add value to the market and your audience.


Elevate your style


Looking good doesn’t have to mean dressing formally. Being authentic is the key to success. Find your style and be consistent in showcasing your individuality. Your outfits, hairstyle, and accessories can instantly make or break your brand. Make styling choices that allows you to feel like yourself while taking note of what the occasion dictates.


Let me share a client experience: we recently coached a startup founder for his pitch. Instead of his usual casual wear, we discussed what kind of brand personality he wanted to exude to investors. We added some orange elements to match his navy blue shirt and changed his black jeans to a pair of beige pants to show his warm, friendly, and sincere personality. He liked the outcome and thought the color reflected his character and helped boost his confidence during the pitch.


Personal network matters


If you want to build your personal brand for business growth, you must ask yourself whether you’re spending enough time reaching out to your audience. With the help of smartphones, online networking couldn’t be easier. In-person networking and relationship building is just as vital. I suggest to startup founders to ideally spend 20% of their time every day to build their personal and professional network, online and offline–no excuses.


Set a foundation


Lastly, make sure you’re knowledgeable and are in the right mindset to succeed. Be 100% ready, inside and out. Without adopting the ‘branding mindset,’  you may feel uneasy or insecure when communicating with your audience. Hence, be sure you know why you are on the personal branding journey. Once you start, there’s no turning back.


Back up your visual brand with a solid understanding of your industry, such as the latest trends, regulations, and competitive landscape. This is what we call ‘the meat,’ or factual knowledge. If you can articulate your knowledge clearly and directly, people will see you as the go-to expert.

About The Author

Tracy Ho is a leading personal branding strategist in Asia. She is the Founder and Managing Director of Frame and Fame, an award-winning personal branding boutique in Hong Kong. Tracy is also a personal branding coach for various MBA programs, startup accelerators, co-working spaces and universities in Hong Kong.


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