By Nicole Nieves
I know, I know. It’s pretty presumptive of me to assume you’re making a few critical branding mistakes along the way to your six, seven, or eight figures. I mean, you’ve gotten this far right? Who am I to tell you what mistakes you’re making as a personal brand?
But what if I told you these 5 mistakes were admittedly made by a large majority of millionaire CEOs just the same? 🤔
Yeah … now we’re talking.
Because no matter what we think we know, entrepreneurs—especially personal brand entrepreneurs—can get so entangled in a web of distractions at every new level of building a thriving business. So keep reading (and save this article … you’ll want to come back to it) to find out the 5 biggest branding mistakes you’re likely making, have made, or will make if you don’t get ahead of the game.
Thank me later.
MISTAKE #1: YOU DON’T HAVE A BIG ENOUGH BRAND VISION
First up, you’re not acting like a true Visionary CEO. You see, your vision is a core part of your brand strategy. It’s bigger than what you’re doing today, next month, or even next year. It’s the driving force behind what you do and why you do it. Elon Musk. Steve Jobs. Oprah. The vision for their brands?
Tesla: Create the most compelling car company of the 21st century by driving the world’s transition to electric vehicles
Apple: To make the best products on earth, and leave the world better than we found it
Oprah: To inspire people to be the highest and truest expression of ourselves
Their visions were always bigger than the individual product, show, or accolades along the way. And their visions required each of them to completely redefine their limits, forcing these thought-leaders beyond the grips of settling for anything less than unparalleled greatness. But how did they do it?
You see, the issue many startup and scaling entrepreneurs run into with their visions is two fold:
1) It’s not big enough, or 2) they don’t give themselves enough space to execute, expand, or elevate the vision.
Most entrepreneurs allow limiting beliefs like imposter syndrome, self-doubt, fear of failure, etc. to well… “limit” their core brand vision. But I dare you to dream … and dream again … and dream even bigger.
That’s more like it! But don’t get caught in the next trap: working too far IN your business that you don’t give yourself time to work ON your business. Dreams don’t work unless you do, right? But are you working on your dreams OR pouring all your energy into pushing your client’s dreams forward?
So, instead of spending 95% of your time doing, spend at least 20% of your time being. Being a visionary, i.e. one who thinks about, and plans, the future with imagination and wisdom. Block off a CEO VIP Day with yourself once a month that’s fully dedicated to working on your brand vision. During this time, ask yourself:
1.How much progress am I making towards my brand’s vision?
2. Is my current activity today aligned with where I want the future of my brand to be?
3. What do I need to adjust to continue innovating + expanding the business?
So… dreaming bigger, yet? Good! Because there are too many people waiting on the impact of that vision of yours—and it’s time for it to show up and show off!
MISTAKE #2: YOU DON’T HAVE CLEAR BRAND VALUES
“If you stand for nothing, Burr, what’ll you fall for?” – Hamilton. Everyone loves a good Lin-Manuel Miranda Hamilton quote. But sit up, because this one is the real deal.
How confidently can you answer this question: What does your brand stand for?
Far too many people are afraid to stand loud and proud for the things they value most. Racial justice, equal rights, faith, work-life boundaries (vs. unlimited 24/7 access to you) … all worthwhile core values that shape who you are as a leader in your industry. But these are also highly controversial subject matters that could alienate people, or even clients, who may oppose your views.
If you’re “too” opinionated, “too” political, “too” polarizing, then others may talk, criticize, and maybe even avoid doing business with you.
True … and? Stop being afraid to stand up for something at the expense of offending the handful of people who were never your people to begin with. Instead, embrace what you believe as a brand, especially as a personal brand. Because if you’re serving someone who doesn’t respect the values you’ve set for yourself, they’re not your dream client. Period.
MISTAKE #3: YOU DON’T HAVE A DISTINCT BRAND VOICE
9 times out of 10, the thing holding personal brands back from owning their distinct brand voice is failing to embrace who they are and what they stand for. Read mistake #2 again if needed.
Your voice is especially critical as a personal brand in the online space. Why? Because people do business with people. They want to connect with so much more than pretty graphics and highlight reels on Instagram. They’re looking for connections with the person behind the brand—the thought-leader, the industry disruptor, the impact-first mentor.
Your voice isn’t just how you communicate your message. It’s how you personally (and deeply) connect that message to the heart of your dream client. It’s how you showcase what it’s like to work with you 1:1, be mentored through your mastermind, or learn from you in a course.
So don’t talk how she talks. Don’t do what he does. Do you and only you.
Are you polished and classy? Own it! Are you spicy and unapologetically controversial? Get it girl! Maybe you’re a cross of class AND sass … my favorite combination 😉
Regardless, be honest with who you are, write how you talk, teach how you want to teach (not how you “think” they want to learn), and talk about what you care about most. Invite them into the conversation with polls, lives, and clear calls to action.
Break away from the noise in the market with a refreshing dose of authenticity.
MISTAKE #4: YOU’RE NOT OWNING YOUR VIBE.
Speaking of authenticity, let’s bring it all together. 😏 Your brand is the essence of your business. And your vibe? That’s your authenticity—the heartbeat of your brand. If you thought this article was going to be filled with tips and tricks to stand out in a crowd visually, I’m glad you’re here.
When brand visuals are used to highlight your overall vibe, they are a force to be reckoned with. But too often, people jump to their colors, logos, or photo filters BEFORE establishing the steps above, which causes them to lose sight of the biggest game changer in their business—owning their vibe.
Authenticity is such a buzz word in this industry, BUT it’s critically important nonetheless. Guilty of comparison-itis? Been there. Totally done that. It’s only when I come back to embracing who I am at the core—the spicy, Puerto Rican mama of 3 boys who cares deeply about serving, creating impact, and building a business around my lifestyle (not the other way around)—that I snap out of it.
My clients work with me because I’m true to who I am. They connect with my story, my tough-love approach, and my over-the-top desire to have fun and enjoy the little things in life (oh hello, Enneagram 7 here. Have we met yet?)
That’s what makes me who I am. It shapes how I lead. If my client’s aren’t having fun in the work they do, we dive deeper into the root of the problem, press pause, and even pivot as needed. If they’re not embracing their story + authenticity, we call it out! Ain’t nobody got time for that.
“My message isn’t connecting with my dream clients, Nicole. Help!” The #1 reason people of all walks of business come to work with me (from the startup to the 7-figure earner). And we always start here: let’s define your vibe and own it. Everything else will fall into place.
MISTAKE #5: YOU’RE NOT SHOWING UP & GETTING VISIBLE
You didn’t think I’d let you read through this without challenging you to show up and serve, did you? Even if you don’t have everything together, show up anyway. Because the truth is, none of us have it all figured out 😂 We are always learning, growing, and evolving. C’est la vie!
So while you dream bigger as the visionary CEO you are…
While you establish and embrace your brand values…
While you confidently communicate your message and story with others…
And while you get more and more comfortable owning your vibe…
Get visible. Show up for others. Serve with all your heart. Don’t hide behind the “doing.”
Here are a few easy ways to increase your visibility + make a splash wherever you land:
1.Be consistent. Not “7 days a week” consistent but do find your flow and stick to it. Maybe it’s 1 email every Wednesday, 3 posts on the gram, 2 reels a week + a clubhouse room a month. Whatever your cadence, establish it and stick to it.
2. Serve first. Sales will follow. Give as much value as you can, teaching freely as you go, sharing insights you’re learning, and offering support each step of the way. But DO maintain good boundaries.
3. Be a thought-leader. If you’re going to show up, make sure you have a message that’s worth sharing. Go on a podcast interview tour, sign up for speaking engagements, and get visible as the industry-leader you were made to be.
So how did you rank? Were you making any of these mistakes?
I’ve been guilty of every single one at different points in my business, and spoiler alert: I’ll be guilty of them all over again, each time I level up.
But this is a guilt-free zone where we embrace the mistakes of entrepreneurship with grace, welcoming each bump as an opportunity to prepare ourselves all the more for what’s to come.
Your personal brand is unique—it’s who you are at the core and how you connect with your people. So, embrace it with care, dream even bigger, stand in your truth, and show up for your people with authority and confidence.
Oh, and don’t do it alone. This journey is way too crazy of a ride to go at it solo. It’s why mentors, masterminds, and community will always be a staple in the journey. So, I’m here for you! If you’re looking to elevate your brand and embrace your vibe to stand out, scale, and slay let’s talk.
You were made for this.
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