Written on the 28 June 2012 by Sydney Morning Herald journalist Jo-Anne Hui
An authentic personal brand puts the icing on the entrepreneurial cake
Jo-Anne Hui- June 25, 2012
Image: Pia Andersen maintains careful control of her image. Photo: Louise Whelan
Blonde bombshell and entrepreneur Pia Andersen could be patiently waiting in line at the grocery store and be approached for events work from complete strangers, largely because of her unmistakable glamorous style.
''A lot of my business is generated from the fact that I stand out in the crowd, but I accept that,'' says the founder of events and styling agency Vintage Allsorts. ''My image is my best source of advertising. I'm advertising my business every time I step out of my house.''
With her bouncy blonde curls, '50s-inspired frocks and signature slash of red lipstick, Andersen is one of Sydney's most high-profile vintage aficionados and her personal brand plays an integral role in her business. She is well-known for her vast knowledge of the vintage era and keen stylist's eye for detail. In the past, she has worked on events such as burlesque star Dita von Teese's performances for Cointreau and developed concepts for the Sydney Festival, the Museum of Sydney and the Historic Houses Trust.
Personal branding is all about making a human connection to your customers and clients by adding a human face and personality to your business, according to Rachel Quilty, chief executive of branding firm Jump the Q.
Steve Jobs, Richard Branson and Jamie Oliver are all entrepreneurs whose businesses go beyond just computers, planes and food.
One of the first steps to developing your personal brand is thinking about what makes you and your business unique, Quilty suggests. Perhaps you have a unique style or point of view. Maybe you have an interesting story to tell or life experiences you can share that add value to your business.
Quilty says one of the most effective ways of building your personal brand is to become an expert in your industry, as Andersen is.
Networking is a way to mark your territory in your sector, she says.''Become connected with your industry association, become a mentor and attend networking events. Don't be just one person that sits at the table, offer your services to sit on registration or become the MC,'' she advises.
Another way to strengthen your profile is to write articles or reports on industry topics, Quilty says. One place to start is by launching your own business blog and regularly posting articles that can generate discussion within your community. And if writing isn't your strength, hire a copywriter to give you a hand.
One of the challenges Andersen has found over the years is ensuring that her brand is maintained. In the past, she has turned down opportunities to avoid diluting it. Last year, she was approached by a washing powder company to act as a housewife in their marketing campaign.
''I just had to say no, because I just felt it took back everything I believed in as a modern businesswoman,'' she says. ''I didn't want to be seen as a stereotypical housewife. There's no way I would have been able to control how they used my image beyond that.''
Authenticity is key to building a strong personal brand, says Quilty.
''You need to deliver a level of expertise, show that you've got the necessary skills and attributes, and come forward with your true personality. When you don't come through as who you really are, the marketplace can see that.''
Andersen agrees. In the past, she has seen others in her industry latch on to the vintage trend, simply dressing up in '50s garb for a short period of time to make money, then disappearing from the scene.
''This is just who I am, and even if I was a lawyer working in the city, working on a criminal case, I'd still be Pia Andersen,'' she says. ''It just happens to be that I've been lucky enough to develop a business based on my personality, which allows me to be this person every day.''
How exciting to be quoted in the media! This week Sydney Morning Herald featured a great article on Personal Branding and quoted myself and a wonderful entrepreneur Pia Anderson.
While we are regularly quoted in articles and magazines I particularly loved this story and the images that supported the article.
Pia Anderson is a great example of walking your talk. Her personal brand is authentic and consistent with who she is and what she stands for.
Pia has what I call a very distinct signature style. This is not how she dresses to go to work or to a fancy dress party, this is how she dresses. She is her own best advertisement.
What is apparent is that Pia understands what suits her figure, her complexion and her style personality. Do you?
Within Jump the Q’s Brand Yourself Action Plan, specifically Action Step 6 we highlight the importance of developing your Signature Brand Style. Never underestimate the importance of your personal image in maintaining your personal brand as well as your professional credibility and authority.
Jump the Q has found some great online resources to help you develop your signature style.
Developing a Signature Style is about creating a look which reinforces who you are, what you do and what you stand for. We know that a celebrities influence increases when they have a definable style. Do you have a definable style? If not, check out Pia Anderson’s look and take some cues from her look. She looks great and her signature style identifies her interests and area of expertise. Does your look commend you, your services and your business?
Copyright permission: You have permission to use this article by respecting the copyright by publishing the entire article as it is with no changes and by agreeing to include the above reference at the end of the article. Alternatively you may quote the author from the about text and including quoted by “Rachel Quilty, Personal Brand Strategist from Jump the Q.