295: Elevating Your Personal Brand DNA – with Suzanne Tulien

Meet Suzanne 


Suzanne notices a variety of creative ways people are branding themselves, both consciously and unconsciously, but is a successful business brand that results from powerful marketing. When the hype subsides, what keeps a good brand going strong? What is the real secret to consistent brand growth and advocacy? With over two and a half decades of strategic communication, employee brand engagement, and internal brand development, Suzanne’s inside-out brand-building strategy creates the clarity and actions necessary for her clients to drive consistency, distinction, and advocacy long term. 


In your terms, what is your definition of a personal brand?


So a personal brand is really just a perception. It lives in the minds of the owner and eventually to its market. So it lives in my mind and your mind and all of our audience’s minds. It’s based on experience, and emotion and then the products and services of that experience. So it’s really all about perception and when people realize that in the first seven seconds of contact with somebody else, others are forming 11 impressions of you through their sensory perceptions. So what do you want those perceptions to be?


Could you tell us more about the 11 impressions that you’re speaking about? 


We’re all human beings. So our ability to perceive and begin to judge and perceive things based on our own filters kicks in gear the moment we meet people. Social Capital is all about networking so we can dig into what that means when you’re out there networking. That’s really powerful to know and to get super clear on your personal brand value position in what you want others to begin perceiving from you right off the bat.


Let’s talk a little bit about the difference between marketing and branding. Can you bring some clarity to that? 


This is my favorite topic because this is why I’m in business. When I do a lot of my workshops and pieces of training, that this is the big “Aha” moment. One of my pet peeves as a brand expert is knowing that oftentimes marketing and branding are used in the same sentence for the same reasons and depicting the same meaning. If I could just explain that you market a brand. So marketing is this verb, it’s this thing, you go out and you disseminate and communicate information or the message of the brand. If you haven’t yet fully defined the brand, and you’re out there spending, money marketing, what are you actually marketing? So the brand is actually that perception. Have I stopped and defined those pieces and parts that helped create the value position perception that I want others to have of what it is that I do and who I am? So the effort for branding is really about the effort in assigning meaning. Assigning meaning to what that brand stands for and that’s what the book is all about. That’s what my whole last, basically 30 years, of being in this industry has been to help the client identify, define, and then align themselves into that value position so that they can become what they want to be known for. Alignment is a big piece and that’s about the experience, the delivery, the follow-through, the vernacular you use, your messaging. All of that is walking the talk basically.


How do you brand multiple sub-brand companies under a bigger corporate brand?


That’s a great question and I’ve had the opportunity to do that several times. It seems really complicated, but when you understand that there’s this mothership brand that should espouse a set of core values that all the other sub-brands should operate under. So it’s this section of the brand DNA process where we uncover those core values. That set of core values should be fluid and infused throughout all of the other brands to be a part of that mothership. But the caveat here is each of those sub-brands can then have values or have a set of personality attributes, a collective set of personality attributes. So that means that you may have a really fun, maybe it’s outdoorsy, love the environment personality of a sub-brand. Maybe it’s a product or a company within this, bigger mothership and then you might have something that’s a bit more luxurious or high end that’s still under that same company. Those two sub-brands will have different personalities, but they will all espouse the same values of the mothership brands so to speak. So there’s that connection, there’s that link, there still that resonance from the value position of the buyer, knowing that this mothership brand is this named company. You can look at Apple and all the different sub-brands that they have right now including electric vehicles. Google also, they’ve got their fingers in so many different things, but the value construct of the mothership company is really the glue or the coherence that keeps them all in alignment with that particular brand promise.


Can you share with our listeners one of your favorite networking experiences that you’ve had?


Well, I was invited to go to a small group of women who supported the franchise industry so to speak. Because I was new, I was able to get like two more minutes in what I call my brand identity statement which is basically your elevator pitch. This was on the fly, I had no idea that they were going to ask me to do this, but within that two minutes, I got one of my biggest clients from just being super clear on what it is that I delivered to that particular market. At the time I was very conscious that I was in a room full of women who ran franchises and that was the topic or the theme. So I had to on the fly adjust what my value position was to the franchise market. When you know your stuff and you’re crystal clear on who you are, you can do that in a heartbeat and within two minutes, you can land big-time clients. It’s a really powerful thing to spend time on, and get clear on.


How do you stay in front of them best nurture the relationships that you’ve been creating?


Well, I am quite the networker. I love getting out there and meeting people and I love speaking so I do a lot of that to networking groups. I also have a newsletter that I send out. I’m on social media and almost every day in terms of posting something in some social media realm. I also have a YouTube channel and I have a series now I started called 90 Seconds of Personal Brand Clarity and the videos are short snippets and tips and techniques to help you get more top of mind with your brand and ways to do that, from my books, specifically my personal brand clarity book. I also have a series called Brand Bites which I started several years ago. These are about three minutes and it digs in a little bit deeper with some examples of branding tips and techniques that I run. So people who subscribe to that it’s called Personal Brand Clarity on YouTube, then they’ll get all the new notices. So that’s nurturing a little bit, but I just like to be out there.


What advice would you offer that professional who’s really looking to grow their network?


I think that from the inside out, which is always where I start, it’s never about the doing, it’s always about the being first. Until you get super clear on who you are as a brand and personal brand and get consistent in building that trust in your value position. So once you figure out what your value position is, and you talk about it on a regular basis, you may sound like a broken record to yourself, but it’s reinforcement to your market when you do that. Even when you’re out there networking in person, constantly say the same things so that people get to know you, they carve out that superpower that you have that you’re super good at and that you are the go-to expert in your industry for that. So it’s really about staying consistent. The second thing is being authentic and this is about being authentic to who you are. I always say in my workshops, you cannot be authentic when you don’t know who you are yet. Who are you authentic to? When you do the work, then you have something to step into and stay aligned with. Then, of course, there’s always distinction. What is it that makes you different than your closest competitor? Maybe localize it and see what your closest competitor is in your area.


If you could go back to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell yourself to do more or less of or differently with regards to your professional career?


I would probably tell myself to start asking for the sale sooner. Really just get in that confidence space that you can solve that problem and ask for the sale. 20 years go by before you really get the feel for your level of expertise and feeling comfortable, but I probably should have done that earlier. But now I do it all the time.


Do you have any final words of advice to offer our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?


I would just go back to knowing your value position and live it consistently. And the way to do that is find that process find that way to flush that out, and which is you know, why I wrote the book, Personal Brand Clarity so that when you get more confident in that space, you can conquer anything and sales become so easy.


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