Treat Your Brand Like a Relationship: 8 Ways to Reignite the Romance

Growing and strengthening your brand requires intentional effort, fidelity communication and commitment.

learn more about Hume Johnson, Ph.D.

By Hume Johnson, Ph.D.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Building a personal brand is akin to building a romantic relationship. It involves being inspired to become the best version of yourself; fostering and maintaining trust between yourself and your clients, customers or employers; and delivering value on a consistent basis. Like romantic relationships, growing and strengthening your brand requires intentional effort, fidelity, communication and commitment.

In their book, Be Your Own Brand, branding authorities, David McNally and Karl Speak describe how "a brand relationship is like a bank account: When something strengthens the relationship, you're effectively making a deposit. The balance grows and accrues interest. Successful interactions build brand equity. When something goes wrong, on the other hand, the equity in the brand account is tapped and reduced."

Related: "Brand Equity' is an Intangible That's Worth Real Money

What is the state of your brand relationship? Is your brand withering from neglect? Has it lost its spark? As with romantic relationships, your relationship with your personal brand can slide into a rut for any number of reasons, but take heart! It may not be too late to salvage things. Here are eight ways to reignite the romance and revitalize your brand.

1. Invest quality time

Attention deficit is a relationship killer. It is essential to give your personal brand the attention it deserves. Paying attention to your brand means spending time getting to know your audience, as well as connecting and building your relationship with them. Knowing your audience is more than learning demographic information; it's about unearthing the deep, burning pain points of your audience — their challenges, goals and desires. In a congested digital environment, it is also especially important to resonate with your audience's core beliefs, values and attitudes in order to know what content and messages they care about and the appropriate tone and voice to deploy. In addition, quality time means assessing and filling gaps in your brand strategy. The reward for this investment of quality time is more leads, referrals and customers, as well as audiences who now feel like you understand them.

2. Keep communicating

Communication is the oxygen of a relationship. If the parties in a relationship are not communicating, the relationship is suffering, losing pulse. Although "we need to talk'' are the four most dreaded words in any relationship, it's critical to communicate and engage with your customers and other stakeholders to keep the relationship strong and sustainable.

Experts agree that social media is a great tool for brands to communicate, build brand awareness, gain recognition for their products and services and reach broader audiences. For example, the 2020 Digital Report, Think Forward says people are placing higher value on digital content and on content creators, and are more likely to evaluate solutions from people they follow on social media channels. This presents a great opportunity to genuinely connect with the public by creating and sharing content like your brand story and expertise.

Bear in mind that, for engagement to be effective and useful, you must offer value and genuinely engage in conversations with your publics, exchange ideas, listen and respond to feedback.

3. Make dates

Just as going communicating is crucial in strengthening a romantic relationship, networking and collaborating with others is essential to fortifying your brand relationship. Thanks to an expanding digital landscape, there are a plethora of ways to network virtually with professionals in your industry, as well as forge stronger relationships with customers, clients, colleagues and partners. Go ahead: Make in person or virtual lunch or coffee dates; participate in online industry events and webinars; take advantage of opportunities to network and engage such as in new chat rooms such as Clubhouse; or create your own virtual special events.

Whether you are networking virtually or in person, see it as taking your personal brand on a date and being your very own external relations officer. Having a strong collaborative mindset, building horizontal relationships with professionals in your industry, learning about them and their work and bringing value to those relationships is fundamental to the health of your personal brand. Afterall, the future of business is personal. Entrepreneurs and executives must now get from behind their product and services and engage with those they wish to serve, lead or impact.

4. Get a brand makeover

When romance hits a snag, the go-to advice is often to get a makeover. Similarly, it may also be time to spruce up your brand. No brand identity can stay relevant forever. As you introduce new products or services or make a substantial change in your business, it's important to signal a new direction with a brand makeover.

This may include updating your brand identity such as taking new photos, upgrading your logo, tagline and brand colors or overhauling your website. It may also include refreshing your image across your social media platforms. A new header that communicates what you are about, along with your display photo and bio profile, can do a lot to convey your brand renovation.

A brand makeover should involve developing and refining your brand voice. Sprout Social defines a brand voice as your distinct personality that's revealed in your communications — words, videos, posts, blogs and graphics — and the specific, authentic and relatable language in which you speak to your target publics. It matters because you want your personal brand to be recognizable, relevant and consistent and stand out from the crowd of digital chatter.

Related: 4 Simple Tips for Finding Your Brand's Voice

5. Be consistent

The strength of a relationship depends on the work and effort put into it on a consistent basis. Relationships featuring unpredictability and inconstancy rarely last. How many inconsistencies in a brand would you tolerate before you abandon it for another brand? Not many.

Being consistent means living your brand everyday — walking your talk and consistently delivering on your brand promise, or the unique value and experience your publics can expect to receive every single time they interact with you or engage with your products or services. The more you can deliver on that promise, the stronger your brand value will be in the minds of your customers or clients, and the stronger your relationship with them.

6. Build trust: Are you a safe harbor?

Just as feeling safe is monumental to the health and longevity of a romantic relationship, a strong brand relies on trust. Trust provides a safe harbor in a brand relationship. It is the glue that connects your personal brand to the myriad relationships you have with others, whether personal or business.

Providing a safe harbor means you have established a brand relationship built on professionalism and integrity and you consistently deliver products and services of the highest quality. This gives others the confidence to want to work with you or do business with you.

7. Be "equally yoked'

Like building trust, a successful relationship depends on shared values — being "equally yoked," or lining up your values with those of whom you work or do business with. It also means your personal brand should be consistent with your values and in sync with your actions. Make sure your brand is communicating the values that mean the most to you, and that they are clear and recognizable.

Related: 5 Tips and Tricks to Improve Your Brand Trust and Equity

So go ahead and tie the knot; make a lifelong commitment to your brand. Like a romantic relationship, building a powerful and compelling personal brand takes time, hardwork and commitment. The ones that last are the ones that put in the time, intentional effort and stay for the long haul. It's time to renew your vows and reignite the romance with your brand.

Hume Johnson, Ph.D.

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

Executive Leadership Coach and Personal Branding Strategist

Dr. Hume Johnson is a leadership coach, personal branding strategist and political scholar. She is currently an associate professor of communication at Roger Williams University. A former TV journalist and political speechwriter, she's the author of 'Brand YOU: Reinvent Yourself, Redefine Your Future.'

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