13 personal branding insights from Kelly Cutrone

If you want to read a straight-talking overview on why you need to think seriously about your personal brand, you should grab yourself a copy of Kelly Cutrone’s book If You Have to Cry, Go Outside: And Other Things Your Mother Never Told You

Cutrone is one of fashion’s most successful publicist whose business People’s Revolution has offices in New York, LA and Paris. Known for her renegade, ballsy and honest approach in an industry full of falsity, her reputation is unparalleled. Her book reveals her journey from small-town US school girl to NY PR maven told in a reverent, funny shooting-from-the-hip kind of way.

But that’s enough of the intro. The reason I’m sharing this with you is because she has dedicated a whole chapter to personal branding “YOU are the brand: normal gets you nowhere”. Her insights and stories should be enough to persuade anyone who needs to earn money that personal branding is here to stay and should be taken seriously. What happens if you don’t take it seriously? Well… you go nowhere, fast.

But there are some of you out there who would prefer the shortcut right? And, as someone who loves giving everyone else shortcuts, here is my list of personal branding insights as shared by the wonderfully inspiring Kelly Cutrone.

1. Personal branding is about figuring out who you are and what turns you on then monetising it.

2. The people who are actually making a difference in the world are people who are not like everyone else.

3. People become successful because what they’re selling is authentic and consistent. They found jobs that aligned with their skills and passions, and they brought their true selves – idiosyncrasies and all – to work every day.

4. Everyone is selling something these days, and if you don’t have a clear point of differentiation – something that makes you special, unique, effective – you won’t get far in fashion, or any other creative industry, and you certainly won’t succeed as an entrepreneur.

5. It’s time to figure out what you are selling and how you are going to make people want to buy it…. Consider your whole self, and don’t be afraid to embrace everything that makes you unique.

6. Your point of differentiation does not need to be edgy or groundbreaking, it just needs to be different, and it just needs to be you.

7. Follow you inner voice away from what feels wrong and towards what feels right.

8. When you find something that feels right…. commit to it. Doing one thing well will open doors for you. A plant won’t grow as high if it’s reaching toward five or six suns.

9. Successful people, and brands, are usually highly specialised. They do one thing, and they do it in a better or more interesting way than anyone else.

10. Every successful brand has a message, and that message must be painstakingly driven home, in both appearance and substance.

11. Good brands are authentic, consistent and focused.

12. Be careful not to let your personal brand overwhelm your expressed desire to learn. The point is, after all, to make people want to work with you.

13. Don’t think that creating and promoting your brand is a 6-month programme. I’m forty-four years old and I continue to build my brand… and it is much more powerful than it was when I started.

Nothing there I’ve not already said, but it’s always nice to hear it from someone else, don’t you think?

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Why personal branding isn’t all about the digital space

throwingsheepI met up with Matthew Fraser last week, author of Throwing Sheep from the Boardroom, during his recent visit to London. We managed to find a quiet spot in the Mayfair out of the glare of the paparazzi (who were there for George Clooney and Elton John, not us!)

Matthew is a fascinating guy who has been fortunate to hold many interesting roles, one of which was as a talk show host on CBC Newsworld. He was keen to point that last one out as he felt it explained why he was asking me so many questions!

mfraserAs a thought leader in the world of web 2.0, Matthew knows a thing or two about engagement and connection. And, with another book on the way that expands on the engagement theme, we could have quite easily just talked all things web 2.0 and engagement. But, intrigued by the fact that I specialise in Personal Branding, he was keen to share his advice, advice that I’m happy to share here.

Matthew was very open about what his advice would be for anyone: if you want to be known for anything, write about it! And he doesn’t mean a blog, but a book. Yes, write and launch a book. As the proud author of five books, this guy knows what he’s talking about.

I know that some of us have probably heard this before but, for Matthew, the book launch is only the beginning. A published book is a great way to position yourself as a thought leader on a topic that you want to own. Not only that, but it is a solid platform on which to launch yourself as a speaker on the international circuit. Within 6 months of his latest book coming out, Matthew, now firmly positioned as a web 2.0 guru, was touring the world doing talks on the social web. And, from our quick chat, it sounds like it’s a nice little earner.

Other titbits of advice that Matthew kindly shared include;

2588186224_b97d6feaa3Differentiate
Obvious, but easy to forget. Review the others books that exist on your chosen topic and make sure that the angle you’re proposing is unique. It can be too easy to just verbalise your content without thinking about how it fits into the competitive landscape.

chinese-takeaway-food-001Make it a take-away!
Publishers love it when you offer the reader some exercises and actions for them to take away. Of course, you might prefer to intellectualise and stick to theory, but exercises and actions are more likely to get you the deal.

Don’t expect to get paid!
Really? Yes! The book is a tool. It’s a marketing brochure, a sample of you. The payment comes afterward in the form of speaking gigs, consultancy and the occasional opening of a supermarket!  You might be offered money, but if you’re not, don’t worry.  Do it anyway!

The thing that strikes me from this whole conversation, is that a thought leader in web 2.0, is encouraging the use of non-web 2.0 methods to build your personal brand. Of course, social media is still critical, but it’s in addition to what we do in the real world. And, we must remember that for most people, you just can’t beat the things that you hear, see and touch.

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