You never get a second chance to make a first impression. How you look, how you speak and how you behave really determines how you are perceived by other people. With so much competition out there, how can you stand out from the crowd?
Whether we are talking about senior executives with a public profile, online KOLs – key opinion leaders – seeking new followers, or young graduates looking for their first job, personal branding can help.
“Putting effort into developing your own personal branding can bring your career to the next level,” said Tracy Ho, Founder and Director of Frame & Fame Ltd.
Frame & Fame is a personal branding and executive coaching firm for clients ranging from entrepreneurs and corporate executives to start-ups and SMEs. It specializes in providing brand strategy and messaging, image consulting, personal branding and communication coaching, etiquette training, portrait photography as well as brand identity creation.
“Good personal branding does not just mean being a LinkedIn KOL. It consists of different levels, like how well you deliver your brand message, how you develop your style and pick outfits that show your best self, and how strong is your executive presence,” Ho explained. “It is useful to strategically frame your own brand message and image, so that people’s perception of you matches what you want to deliver.”
When it was first founded in 2015, Frame & Fame focused on start-ups. After a couple of years, Ho decided to change the scope slightly and reposition the business towards more senior professionals.
“We now focus more on providing services to business executives and higher-level executives, especially for those who have been working for around 10 plus years and are ready to step up their game in the workplace. After working for a number of years, and being in middle management, these executives are no longer purely evaluated by their performance and qualifications,” she explained. “I believe that personal branding is a good way for them to escalate their career or business growth and stand out from the competition.”
Frame & Fame is an industry pioneer. It was the first personal branding consultancy in Hong Kong when established in 2015. The sector, to date, is still a fairly new phenomenon in the city, and Ho has found that many local people lack awareness of how personal branding works and how it can help with career and business development.
There is also the cultural factor in Asia that values being polite and not being aggressive in promoting yourself. But such a belief can stop people from reaching their full potential, Ho explained.
“In Hong Kong, people may have a traditional mindset that focuses on being humble and hoping that finally your efforts will be noticed. That can hinder them when it comes to speaking up for themselves in the competitive corporate environment,” she said. “Therefore, I want to run a coaching and consulting business that helps people gain the self-awareness, shift their mind and take charge of their personal brand.”
Personal branding can enable people to strike the perfect balance, helping them to become more visible and get ahead, without being too pushy.
Ho explained that Frame & Fame services consist of three levels – be seen, be heard, and be known.
“The first thing is, you need to be seen,” she said. As a first step, you should ensure that you have decent, ‘on-brand’ portraits for any public profiles, such as a company webpage or on networking sites like LinkedIn.
“Mixing and matching the right branding materials like colour and clothing can instantly increase your whole charisma,” she said. “For example, I like taking outdoor portraits for clients at a location they feel connected to, they will therefore look much more energized in the pictures, so that others can perceive them as someone with an engaging, passionate personality.”
When it comes to being heard, Frame & Fame provides communication training to make sure you get the right message across in business situations.
“We teach things such as what to avoid in workplace communication, and how to present yourself in meetings,” she said. “Notably, we also provide executive presence coaching, which is not commonly offered in Hong Kong and Asia. This can be particularly useful for those executives who have a more senior ranking or aspire to rise to the top levels. Executive presence is crucial to building strong internal and external relationships. It is how you demonstrate to your supervisors and work contacts that you are the real deal!”
Being known is perhaps the most complex of the three. Ho explained the concept as ensuring that your audience, customers or colleagues really understand and relate to the message that you convey.
“A successful personal brand makes other people feel exactly what you want them to feel,” she explained. “We try to narrow the gap between people’s perception and reality.”
Personal branding is obviously crucial for entrepreneurs whose name and personality is intertwined with their company. It is also key for people in sales and other roles that are highly visible.
But personal branding can also help all types of employees to make sure they are making the best impression in front of their target audience, be it bosses, colleagues, clients, business partners, investors or recruiters.
“One of my clients was a very loyal employee who had been working at the same company for over five years. However, she didn’t know how to show her efforts and present the results,” Ho explained. “The employee eventually realised that she had not only had a much bigger workload than her counterparts, but also a lower salary. That prompted her to work on building her personal brand.”
“We therefore tailored an executive presence coaching programme for her. We first raised her self-awareness on her strengths, then we coached her to reframe her mind into taking control of her brand presence. We also advised her on positioning herself in the workplace, supported her to revamp her CV and LinkedIn profile, and trained her to articulate her messages in the boardroom.” Ho said.
This rebranding and confidence boost paid off. After her personal branding experience with Frame & Fame, the client went on to have a number of interviews, resulting in four job offers and a significant salary raise.
Ho has been an active member of the Chamber’s Young Executives Club over the past few years. She has organized and participated in a number of coaching programmes, and shared her tips with the Chamber’s other young entrepreneurs.
The first thing a Frame & Fame consultant will ask a client is, whether an individual or corporate, what is their key differentiator. The next question is about the client’s own personality. What are your experiences and strengths that make you unique?
“If you know what your own differentiator is, are you sure that people can see it, hear it and feel it?”
From this starting point, Frame & Fame enables its clients to create and refine their personal brand to ensure that their public profile reflects what they want to portray. So if you are keen to escalate your career or business growth, or simply want to ensure that your professional image is well defined and presented, developing your own personal brand might be a good place to start.
Company：Frame & Fame Ltd
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