Branding was, for a long time, associated exclusively with companies. As businesses develop and work becomes more individual-centered, branding has spread to each of us and today, it seems, the importance of personal branding is huge and nearly everyone has their own personal brand! This concept has expanded from nothing more than a business card to your online presence, both on your website and in the numerous social media outlets, brochures and pamphlets, news and media, publications, and more. A Richmonder who has taken all of this to heart is Tammy Brawley, a personal chef and caterer in Richmond. She’s the owner of The Green Kitchen, offering personal chef services, cooking instruction parties, and catering. Having dreamed of being self-employed for years, Tammy knew she had something to offer. Striving for success in her efforts, she knew she had to dig deeper in marketing herself with the company. It was time for her to explore and leverage her personal brand.

When we first met to discuss her best options, we initially had headshots in mind. However, after fleshing out her goals and desired uses for these new images, Tammy decided that having a Personal Branding Session was her best choice. This would allow her more variety and the ability to showcase more interaction with her medium — food! When asked why having a personal brand is important, Tammy replied, “It distinguishes you from your competition, from others in the market,” and I couldn’t agree more. Putting yourself out there, humanizing your company or your service, providing a face to which people can connect and relate is what makes certain businesses stand out above the rest. Beyond the numbers, figures, and services, business is about human connection and enacting your personal brand is an opportunity to convey your personality, values, character, skills, talents, and passions — the things that make us all human.

It distinguishes you from your competition, from others in the market.

The first step in establishing your personal brand is determining how you want your brand to be perceived.

Begin by asking yourself these questions:

  • What do you want people to think of when they think of your name?
  • Is there an industry or field in which you want to be perceived as an expert?
  • What impression do you want to make?
  • What target audience do you want to reach?

After you have a grasp on how you want your name and your brand to be understood, you can begin the journey of being strategic in getting your brand to the marketplace. That’s where I come in. The human brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than the time it takes to interpret text — and it happens in 1/10 of 1 second. It’s for this reason that the quality and style of your images are of utmost importance. Thought needs to be put into the lighting, colors, textures, posing, and facial expressions. All of these variables will differ depending on what you wish to convey and where those specific images will live.

When it comes to Tammy, she wanted people to know that she is the person behind the cooking, not just the owner of the company. This is the chef. “Part of what I do is cook for clients on a weekly basis – people who don’t like to cook, who don’t know how, who don’t have time,” she says. “I’ve also found a niche for specializing in diets specific to clients with illnesses.” Tammy doesn’t just stay in the kitchen, though. “Not only am I cooking the meals, I’m also coming to the door.” From planning, preparing, cooking, and delivering, Tammy is the woman behind The Green Kitchen, so it was very important to her that she convey her approachability.

A benefit of having a Personal Branding Session is that you leave with a collection of varied images. This has given Tammy the opportunity to showcase different sides of her, to use distinct images for her array of marketing materials, and to switch them out when she wants a change. The photos she left with have been used for her printed materials including rack cards, business cards, and postcards as well as for her online presence, filling out her website, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. “I still have several in my Dropbox folder that I haven’t even used yet,” she says.

In case you’re still unsure, here are a few reasons having a personal brand is important:

  • Industry recognition
  • Establish authority in your field
  • Expanding your network of clients and contacts
  • New job or promotion

Invite your clients and potential clients to invest in your service by leading the way and investing in yourself first. By taking the steps to amplify your personal brand, you show your network that you believe in yourself and that they should believe in you, too.

With all of the introspection it takes and exploration of yourself and your work, as you find your authentic voice, you will undoubtedly build confidence and belief in yourself and your ventures.

3 final tips to consider when approaching your personal brand:

1. Be authentic.

2. Be consistent.

3. Be intentional and prudent in what you share.