There’s certain visual branding you can’t fool around with – and that includes the colors and fonts of your logo. Let’s face it, your logo represents you or your company all the time – and online, you’re always on.

When we were just a print world, it was fairly easy to identify colors with the Pantone® matching system color chart or PMS colors.  Red might be a fire engine red, warm red or cool red.  And, the finished product and color from any press might look different.

Today, every designer worth their weight in gold, should provide you with a color brief, which outlines your exact colors, fonts and symbols so you’ll never go wrong – or forget what you’re using.

It’s important to know for PR and marketing, because you always need to be consistent in your branding and messaging, including your visual presence. And how you look is critical to your success.

Let’s take a look at the color brief Colleen Davis from Intentional Branding provided me when she designed my new logo.  Click here to see what the RobinSamora.com color brief looks like.

You can see it’s very specific and there’s no question ever on my colors, fonts and what my symbols of tagline looks like.

If you’re thinking of rebranding or designing a new logo, be sure to get a color brief. It’s the only way to go, and be sure to share it with your team.

An extraordinary personal brand is a set of messages, attitudes and behaviors that come together synergistically to help you enjoy better opportunities, make more money, command more influence, and help more people. What’s more, it helps establish you as a role model and leader in your field, which elevates you to a whole new level.

Of course, those are the benefits of an extraordinary personal brand. Most people don’t have one at that level yet; and some might not even have a personal brand at all (or at least not one that they’ve ever noticed). However, if you fall anywhere on this spectrum, then don’t worry. When it comes to improving – or possibly re-inventing – your personal brand so that it’s extraordinary, there’s no need to go searching for clues on where to start. You can simply borrow the playbook from the corporate world.

Indeed, have you noticed that the most trusted, valuable and beloved corporate brands share certain key characteristics? It doesn’t matter whether they’re established in the consumer retail space, the medical field, the IT industry, or anywhere else – when you set aside all of the differences, the best brands are always: unique, expressive, authentic, consistent and confident.

1. Unique

A “generic personal brand” is a contradiction in terms; yet this doesn’t stop many professionals from having one that is virtually identical to many others. This is a mistake of profound proportions! Your personal brand is your “professional DNA.” It should be all about you, and only you. Don’t be afraid to be different; on the contrary, leverage your differences to stand out from the crowd for all of the right reasons.

2. Expressive

Your personal brand should convey key messages that express who you are, where you’ve been – and most importantly — where you’re headed tomorrow. Be willing to communicate your personal brand in a variety of ways, and to a variety of audiences. If Shakespeare was right and “all the world’s a stage,” then your personal brand is a microphone. What will YOU express?

3. Authentic

Make your personal brand attractive. Make it engaging. Make it interesting, unforgettable and bold. But no matter what, make it authentic! And you achieve this by embracing and expressing your values and principles. What do you stand for? What do you care about? What do you consider essential about you, and about the contribution you aim to make? Let authenticity shine through your personal brand, and you’ll be amazed at the impact you have on like-minded people who want to be part of your story.

4. Consistent

Whether you’re presenting at a conference, enjoying a casual lunch with clients, creating your LinkedIn profile, or doing anything else where your personal brand makes an appearance, ensure that you’re consistent. This doesn’t mean that you must choose the exact same words and repeat them mechanically. Rather, it means the core, underlying message should be consistent in look, tone and style, and that your visual should match your verbal. Here’s the litmus test: connect with 10 different people in 10 different settings. If all of them share the same impression of your personal brand – not the exact words, but they feeling, the impact and the key takeaways – then you’re being consistent.

5. Confident

As a corporate A-player, you’re certainly “in it to win it.” But is your personal brand in alignment with that ambition; or, could it be undermining your aspirations? Ensure that your personal brand is confident and self-assured. Clearly convey that you believe in yourself and in your potential. After all, if you don’t, how can you expect anyone else to?

The Bottom Line

Provided that the quality of your work is excellent, and that you’re committed to adding value to everything you do and everyone you meet, an extraordinary personal brand can take your career to unimagined new heights. But it can only start with you. So ask yourself: are you ready, willing and able to be extraordinary?

Have you ever read a bio and thought you knew the person?  What they’re like, how they think and if you like them or not?  A well-written bio can influence a prospect to buy or not buy, continue reading to hear more or pick up the phone, right then and there. Why miss an opportunity to present your best self and brand with a poorly written bio?

So, how do you write a compelling bio?

The first step is to identify who you are, what you’re selling or promoting (even yourself) and present a background that’s not B-B-B-Boring.  It’s also helpful to include a few interesting facts so readers will have a sense of you as a person – inside and out, including what you like to do, off hours.  Even if you’re a workaholic, you still have hobbies or interests that you enjoy or are important in your life.

When I’m working with a client and we’re reviewing their bio, I ask, “what do people not know about you?”  After they make faces, or I hear them making faces with a gigantic pause at the other end of the phone, they tell me about their passions and reflect on their lives.

  • I collect vintage Corvettes
  • I’ve been to every continent in the world, except Antarctica and I’m planning a trip there now
  • I’m leading a volunteer vacation with my church to Africa
  • I’m writing a book on XYZ and it’s being published in the fall
  • I’m a clown at hospitals and make kids laugh

For me, it might be that I live on an island in the summer, was a beekeeper for many years or am a Travelzoo® fanatic, always dreaming of my next vacation. To mix it up, I might add that my 1983 Check Cab Marathon with opera windows was the best car I ever owned, I love Greek meatballs or I’m a Reiki Master.

Bios will change like you and your website, and eventually you may have 3 bios or more; one short (50 words), one longer (100 words) and one by-line or speaker intro bio, but that’s for later.

Your Bio = Who you are + what you do + how you help others + a dash of personality.

It’s Your Personal Brand and PR.

The content of a bio can be like an elevator pitch, but remember with an elevator pitch you’re presenting in person and have the opportunity to influence others with your voice, behavior and body language.  And, in person, you can turn on your charisma. Again, you marketing you.

If you’re looking to refresh your bio, take 30 minutes and copy and paste ones you like in a document. Try out different versions and send them to your inner circle to review.  It’s hard to judge your own bio sometimes. We’re typically shy, don’t think a phrase is important, or don’t want to toot our horns too loudly.

But, “if you don’t toot your own horn, who will?”

Think of your bio as a soft toot, written to inspire people to want to know more. It’s not bragging, it’s not hard selling or reciting your credentials as a Harvard MBA and every degree you’ve earned since high school. It’s a story of your past and present, credentials and a few tidbits that make you interesting.

Granted, you’re smart. But, you’re also human. You’ve lived a story to tell.

Tell it like it is, but position it in a way to better your brand.

Summer reading isn’t just for kids, though every parent and interested adult might ask their favorite little one(s), “what’s on your reading list this summer?”

So my question to you is the same.  “What’s on your reading list this summer?” Here are some recommendations from Richard Feloni and Shana Lebowitz with Business Insider, and members of the Young Entrepreneur Council – for the best business books to read this summer.

Top 23 Best Business Books to Read This Summer

I’d love to start a book club and read of copy of every business book listed here.  Granted, I’ve read a few already, but certainly not all 23! 10 top picks on their list include:

  • Sprint by Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky and Braden Kowitz. What’s the process to launch amazing new product at Google? Take a deep dive at Google’s venture capital firm and see what their 5-day “sprint” method is all about.
  • Shoe Dog by Phil Night. When Phil Knight graduated college, he sold running shoes out of his parents’ garage. He also happens to be retiring as chairman of Nike this summer. Here’s his story from laces to going places.
  • Originals by Adam Grant. Grant is the highest rated professor at Wharton and the youngest to date, to reach full professor. In this book, he looks at daring thinkers over the last century and inside their minds. What makes them “original?”
  • O Great One! by David Novak and Christina Bourg. Novak is the retired chairman of Yum Brands and left the company with more than a pension; 41,000 restaurants across 125 countries. The #1 leadership lesson he teaches?  Show employees appreciation for great work.
  • How to Have a Good Day by Caroline Webb, CEO of Sevenshift. Webb shares practical best practices and tried and true career advice from her 16 years as a consultant – including how to deal with annoying coworkers (and so much more).
  • Grit by Angela Duckworth. Duckworth, a psychology professor at U Penn and winner of the McArthur Genius award, believes that true grit – a combination of passion and perseverance – will lead to success. She thinks in fact that it’s often more important that talent or intelligence.
  • An Everyone Culture by Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey. Two Harvard professors wrote this book citing that employees work two jobs; the one they signed up when they joined and one they battle in office politics. Select companies avoid this by creating Deliberately Developmental Organizations. Who are they? Read the case studies and find out.
  • Quench Your Own Thirst by Jim Koch.  The story of how a consultant, thought crazy, left his $250,000 a year job and started Koch’s Beer Company, competing with the likes of Budweiser and Heineken. You may know the brand, Sam Adams?
  • Deep Work by Cal Newport. Georgetown professor Cal Newport argues that some of the greatest output is the result of deep work. This book tells you how you can build deep sessions into your day to accomplish top quality work in a few hours or less. Sign me up.
  • Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday. Find out how acting on ego can prevent learning opportunities and similarly, how it can prevent successful people from adapting to change. Holiday uses lessons from history and philosophy to show how to master the ego. Read to see how this applies to New England Patriots Head Coach, Bill Belichick and first lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Hmmm.

Interested in other top business book touted by the Young Entrepreneur Council?  Check them out here.

And, what’s on Bill Gates’ reading list? See what he’s recommending for the Summer of ’16.

You got it, right here.

Live a lot. Learn a lot.

LinkedIn has so many opportunities to showcase your skills, expertise and talent. And, one of the most underutilized PR and marketing opportunities is publishing on LinkedIn Pulse. It’s a platform to write about your expert topic, repurpose your blogs and presentations and engage an eager audience who want to learn more. Posting on LinkedIn Pulse increases your credibility, reputation and ability for others to like, know and trust you, as well as share and comment on your work.

Publishing Articles on LinkedIn is Easy – Here’s How You Do It

  1. First, you need to have a LinkedIn account which can be as simple or complex as you want, but please make it key word rich and complete in all categories – highlighting your experience. Thumbs up to everyone who takes more than 30 minutes to create a compelling profile and posts a professional headshot. (A high resolution photo is always preferred for when you’re picked up by the media.)
  2. There are two ways to publish on LinkedIn Pulse, but the easiest is to post an article from your home page where you see “Publish A Post”. You’ll have an opportunity to write about your signature topic in depth, create a catchy headline, upload a recent image (or create your own graphic on Canva) and then post your The format is user-friendly and whether you know anything about WordPress or not, it should be a breeze. (this is the end)
  3. Consider writing at least two times a month, but weekly is even better. A longer article with about 500 – 750 words is preferred to provide valuable information and insight on your expert topic, and aim to pen at least five paragraphs. Remember, this isn’t a sales pitch. Publishing on LinkedIn is all about showcasing your knowledge.
  4. If you’re short on time, it’s possible to repurpose older blogs and change up the titles, intros and outros, but only if they’re not already posted on Pulse. You probably have a wealth of digital assets and information in your head, so plan to get it all on paper/online and create an editorial calendar to stay on target and for tracking success. Be sure to vary up the times and platforms posting your articles so there’s consistency but not duplication.
  5. Need Inspiration? Even the best writers get stuck for ideas. Feel free to check out topics that are trending on LinkedIn and Twitter, research BuzzSumo, refer to questions clients and prospects are asking, dive into Quora to see what others are inquiring about – and always be listening to what’s going on in your industry and what your target audience should know to stay ahead of the game.

One of my clients is having great success with LinkedIn Pulse. She blogs regularly and writes a weekly article about her expert topic. I love how she’s built her credibility and reputation from writing and engaging with her readers, as well as networking to the max. She’s taken what’s in her head, put it on paper and tweaked it multiple ways to reach a wide and growing target audience.  Always improving her analytics to match leads and sales, she pays attention to the various groups she’s a part of, listening then writing.

Now, if you’re wondering what days are best to post, recent research has shown that it’s typically Thursday and Sunday, but you should check with your own industry trends. Again, don’t send your blog and post your article the same day.  Mix it up to get the max.

Be strategic in your thinking, writing, and sharing.

You’ve worked hard to write outstanding content. Now promote it via LinkedIn Pulse and other social media platforms to reach your target audience, and turn prospects and customers into raving fans.

And the good thing is, it’s all free!

Hopefully, wherever you are, it’s spring and a perfect time to clean out (or as my stylist says) edit your closet. Take advantage of this newfound energy and direct it to your online assets.

Online assets are properties you’ve created on social media platforms you’re using (or not).  My recommendation is that you’re always consistent with your branding, message and voice. That may seem like a given, but you’d be surprised at what we still have “out there” but may have forgotten!

 5 Tips to Refresh Your Online Presence

1)  Keep Your Website Current As You Grow Your Brand. Many entrepreneurs are ahead of their website by at least nine (9) months because change is a constant. Some have had websites from 2008 without even a refresh. Consider moving to a Word press format for updating copy, blogs, photos and simple SEO. Keep your look and feel current with where you are now. Change happens. You either go with it, or it goes without you.

2) Get a List of All Your Digital Assets and Passwords. Yes, you have a website, but what about your owned media (blog) and other social media channels? LinkedIn, YouTube, Google+, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest. Should I continue? Keep this list updated and handy and every once in a while, consider refreshing passwords. If you do, please tell your team!

3) Make Sure to Have Consistent Profile Information. When you look on LinkedIn or Google+ do you cringe when you read your old profile? It happens. Getting into the zone of writing about yourself takes time and effort. And your photo? Lose or gain 20 pounds? Sporting a shaved head or gone red? Now’s the time for a new headshot. And make it, high res, please. The media will love you and so will I.

4) Look at All Your Landing Pages and Autoresponders. If you work by yourself or on a small team, it’s almost impossible to keep track of everything you do. Look back at your marketing and PR calendars to see the projects you’ve worked on. Where do you have links? Are they all working or are some broken? Do your autoresponders need a rewrite? Now’s the time for spring cleaning!

5) Give Your Email Signature Permission to Work 24/7. I was just featured in Fit Small Business for contributing top ideas for email signatures. Since you’re always updating your image and work, your email signature should keep pace as well.  Are you a new author? Share a chapter. Have a freebie? Provide a link. Work globally? Include your time zone. Won an award? Tell the world. It’s easy peasy and free!

Refresh. Renew. Revitalize. And maybe even – Reinvent yourself.

I’m all for it!

PS. I’ll share some great news next week about a new partnership I have that can help with your marketing and provide even more tips, tricks and tools to engage your audience. Stay tuned for the announcement and keep promoting yourself and your brand!

Want More tips for Spring Cleaning Your Personal Brand?  Email me here! 

This morning, I got up at 6:00 am to launch my Q2 PR and marketing strategy and attend a Boston University Alumni breakfast networking event.  It’s part of a heavily promoted month-long career month to bring alums and professional together – and connect recent grads with seasoned professionals. (Did you like how I said that)?

It was my first networking event sponsored by BU, other than going to cheer on the Terriers in hockey, and I’m glad I went. Why?

Networking Opens the Doors for Opportunities

  • First, how great to see someone who knows and respects your work. A genuine smile and hug in a room full of strangers is almost always welcome. I’m a hugger, but if you’re squeamish, keep in the comfort of your own boundaries.
  • Networking gives you a chance to hear what others are doing in the marketplace and notice opportunities to connect, partner, refer, work or collaborate together. There were quite a few COM (communications) grads there and possibilities are brewing!
  • Meeting face to face with a brand new circle extends your promotional reach in ways you can’t imagine. It also reinforces your expert status with a whole new group that may one day –become raving fans.
  • There are no rules to revising your elevator pitch. Modify your message according to what you need in the present moment, and the crowd. The elevator pitch police won’t have a warrant out for your arrest if you change it up.
  • Talk with people who may not be your target audience, because they might know someone who might be the perfect fit. Profiling isn’t always in your best interest.

My colleague, who I met while speaking at the Small Business Expo and at the Boston Business Journal enthusiastically endorsed me in front of a room full of strangers. Love that! Thank you, Joy! She’s involved with a new venture working with entrepreneurs and small business owners, and it happens that I’m speaking with her mentor on a national level this week.

From my meeting this morning, I already got invited to speak on a panel in early April and begin preliminary discussions of a potential world-wide tour.

If I didn’t get up at 6 am I would have missed this. Will other opportunities to increase my PR and marketing expertise show up?  Definitely.

Say yes more often than you say no and see what happens.

Oh, and set your alarm clock.

PS:  Sign up now for the Digital Marketing Weapons Event at  Sleek Marketing University on Saturday, 3/26. I’ll be speaking about How to Get Free Publicity for Your Business and Grow Your Brand. Use the code CONTACT for 50% off – since many of you were at the Constant Contact event where I spoke on March 1.

Want more info? Read these other articles on improving your online presence. 9 Cool Free Publicity Tools and Tactics,7 Easy Ways to Get Attention Without Selling Your Soul and How Do I Get More PR and Online Visibility  We’re all experts in training!

This is a story about an amazing 15-year old girl who wanted to go to private school. Almost everyone told her she couldn’t do it. She’d never get it in and it was way too much money. Impossible and unrealistic they told her. “What was she thinking?”

It was late July. Summer vacation was in full swing. She had no transcripts, notes from her teachers or experience in applying to a coveted school.

One thing she did have though – was a dream.

Two or three times a week, my niece took her boat to town and walked up a long hill to say hello to the Admissions department. Piece by piece she hand delivered her application and asked what she needed to do next. Day by day we talked about what she wanted to accomplish, not worrying about obstacles.  They were clear – lack of financing, tight deadlines and fear of the unknown. “Don’t worry about the how,” I’d tell her. “Anything is possible.”

Our next door neighbor had children attending the same school and offered to talk with Admissions on her behalf. My niece didn’t know this. She went on her merry way visiting, collecting letters from teachers and pursued her dream.  I went to visit the school, to say hello as an unofficial ambassador for the cause and it was clear, they were impressed with her initiative, determination and cheery can do attitude.

You know the “Little Engine that Could”?

It wasn’t a total surprise that “The Teenager Who Could” was funded last minute by an incredibly generous scholarship that made attending possible. Bright and bold, this 15-year old who had never slept away from home got accepted.  She knew she wanted something big for her life – and wasn’t afraid to go for it.

In her first semester as a sophomore, my niece made MVP in JV soccer. In the second, she was asked to join the Varsity Ski team.  She’s a part of a vibrant community and loving it.

PR and Marketing lessons from a 15-year old.

If there’s something you want, give it your best shot. Meet people in person. Get to know them. Just be you. Surround yourself with believers who will go to bat for you, because they want to, not because they have to. Freedom lies in bold actions. You never know what’s going to happen. The power of intention can be magical. Make your follow through rock.

On Spring break she’s going to meet Donald Trump in Florida.

Who are you going to meet?

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Save the Date: Tuesday, March 1 – Join me and #branding experts, Christina Inge, Jeannette O’Neil and Heather Jackson at a Mastermind Workshop on How to Develop and Manage Your Online Brand at #ConstantContact Headquarters, Waltham MA.  Here’s the link to register. It’s from 10a – 2p. Attend one session or all 4.  Let me know if you’re coming! PS – it’s also free.

Ah, the year in review! I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the Top 10 of a few categories in 2015.

The top 10 business lessons compiled by Fastcompany, top 10 leadership stories by Entrepreneur.com and for visual learners in the public relations and marketing world – a look at the top 10 infographics by Marketingprofs.

In this article from Fastcompany staff, top business lessons from 2015 are shared from a variety of leaders and entrepreneurs. What were they? Calling yourself a freelancer might not be such a good idea, world travel can teach you how to expand your comfort zone and stepping back from the CEO position may actually prove to be the best leadership move.  Other lessons? Alone time works, crisis can help your company and more.

Could you have improved your leadership this year? Entrepreneur.com’s Laura Entis shares top 10 leadership stories worthy of mention and each has a valuable lesson. What’s important to note is that successful entrepreneurship starts with successful leadership and we can all learn to be better communicators and more effective leaders.  Worth reading — 50 Rules to Be a Better Leader, 7 Toxic People to Avoid When Starting a Business, 10 Examples of Companies with Fantastic Cultures. All here.

And where would we be without visual stimulation? Marketing Prof’s Editor, Veronica Maria Jarski gives us insights of her company’s top 10 infographics of 2015. Take a look at 12 Secrets of Human Behavior to Use in Your Marketing, The Only 10 Slides You Need in a Pitch and Best Days and Times to Post Content  — and how could we forget the Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Social Media.  These are great infographics to post on the wall (if you like doing that sort of thing).

A year in review by observers, seasoned marketers and entrepreneurs.

All good for your business. All good to keep in mind for the New Year!

As a business owner, your website is your ‘hub’. It’s where you show off your goods, products and more importantly – yourself. The more people see your website, the more they know about your awesomeness!

Are you thirsty for web traffic? Let’s explore the concept of SEO juice, especially with 2016 just around the corner!

The first way to get more SEO juice is to squeeze more juice out of your current content.  That means you should always be linking back to the content you’ve written or shared before. It’s called internal linking and should be done deliberately and often.  KissMetrics wrote the Seven Commandments of Internal Linking.  According to the author, “It’s not overwhelming, complicated or difficult.”

So, what are you waiting for? Start learning the rules of internal linking and may the traffic begin!

Besides linking to previous content, there are several other tactics to rev up your SEO juice. Here’s an article by Hello Spark’s, 4 Important SEO Tips for Your Website. It’s easy to read, to the point and actionable.  Their tips are really call to actions and everyone who owns a site can benefit from these suggestions.

And, marketing veteran Carrie Morgan shares 3 Ways to Transform Your Blog Into a SEO Machine.  She talks about installing a great SEO plug-in like WordPress SEO by Yoast and using keywords efficiently. By choosing one keyword and including it in your post permalink, title and first sentence, you’re sure to get more juice. There’s more of course and you can read it here.

Lastly, what happens when you move or overhaul a site? SEO juice can and will spill all over, without a plan.  James Archer writes about the importance of the ‘301 redirect’ in this article on Forty.co. Read, bookmark and apply when needed!

Squeeze the SEO juice so traffic flows to you!