These days branding is an essential step for nearly every business. Sheila Coates, the creator of BYOB (Be Your Own Brand), helps people do just that. With two decades of entertainment experience behind her, Coates uses her expertise in branding, marketing, artist development, lifestyle and business strategies and creating great images to help companies and individuals—even celebrities–to brand themselves .
Her clients have included Diddy, Babyface, Mary J. Blige, Monica, Angie Stone, Faith Evans, Lenny Kravitz, Deborah Cox and Barry White. On the corporate side, she has held executive positions with Sony/BMG, EMI/Capitol, Arista, Virgin, MCA, Perspective and Hidden Beach Records.
Here, Coates gives some advice for small businesses.
TNJ: What are the first three steps in branding yourself?
Sheila Coates: Define it. Be it. Look it.
Define It – Define yourself – for yourself or someone else will.
Be It – Every verb that you use to define yourself requires an action. If you’re detailed you must be detailed, if you say you’re humorous you must make people smile. If you define it you must be it.
Look It – Every action has a reaction (a look to it). If you get the first two correctly, you’ll do it authentically and consistently and then be able to put a look to it that confirms numbers 1 and 2.
TNJ: What are the biggest mistakes people make when trying to brand themselves?
SC: We brand ourselves on what we do as opposed to who we are. When the ‘what’ is gone, we’re lost. Remember “who” you are will outlast “what” you do. You can become known for what you’ve done but it won’t necessarily make you who you are. Michael Jordan is a prime example of that. He became known for playing basketball but who he is has carried into his other business ventures and he now makes more money off the court than he did when he was playing basketball. He didn’t brand himself as a great basketball player – he branded himself as a 1st class, hard working, professional. He can take that –who he is– everywhere.
TNJ: Can everyone brand themselves?
SC: Yes. Everyone is already a brand. They just don’t know it, control it or know how to maximize it. The hardest part is #1: defining yourself because we all want to be more than we are and branding yourself requires you to really define what makes you unique (not necessarily better than). Project that to the world.