Personal Branding is a term that is thrown around a lot in the world of small business and entrepreneurs. Most of us now understand how important Personal Brand is and whether you like it or not, you have a Personal Brand and if you don’t put some thought into making it authentic it can all go wrong very quickly.
However, for me this has been even more important, this is because I share my name with someone who already has a strong, international Personal Brand that is instantly recognisable. And for all the wrong reasons, certainly not ones that I would like to reflect on me.
If you aren’t familiar with the other Grace Mugabe, she is the wife of former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. Grace and her husband are notorious around the world for their controversial activities and unlawful dealings. Her husband, often referred to as a dictator, ruled the country for 37 years and was forced to step down in November 2017. Suffice to say, this is not a brush I want to be tarred with in my personal or professional life.
Often when people hear my name they will do a double take because the image that comes to mind is a strong one and one that has nothing to do with me. It’s quite usual for me to walk into a room and at least one person becomes distracted by my name tag. Obviously I am not the same Grace that is all over the media but I guess any famous name will elicit a bit of confusion in the brain at first glance.
Often what comes next are the inevitable questions eg “Are you related to the other Grace Mugabe?” followed by side remarks and whispered comments. It can be super frustrating as I have an important message to share and I always want that to take centre stage and it feels like this is a barrier that I always have to get past first.
This is why it has become super important for me to be proactive in building my own brand – the Grace Mugabe who is a Financial Literacy expert and passionate about contributing to the community and empowering women.
Creating a visible online presence as well as an in person one in the Perth community has been vital to the success of my business and in getting my message out there. I needed to create a Personal Brand that would overcome the brand of the other Grace that is so easily recognisable.
Of course I have achieved some of this through social media – Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, all the time ensuring that my message and the visual aspect of my brand was super clear and recognisable. From my business name “Financially Empowered” right through the images on my website I had to make sure I differentiated between the 2 of us.
This was helped and supported by my in person efforts. I have been a part of many Not For Profit boards and whilst the motivation with these board positions has been meaningful contribution they have certainly helped me build local business connections as well as show my knowledge as an expert in my field.
It helps that many of these boards have allowed me some online exposure too which helps put me in front of a larger audience.
I have been an active member of the Perth Small Business community since before I launched my business. I knew that Perth was a small city and an even smaller business community so I made it a priority to ensure I met and got to know as many people as possible. Every person that recognised my “Grace Mugabe” was one less that confused me with the other “Grace Mugabe”.
Over time through both my online and in person efforts my community has built and now I feel like I have a wonderful group of clients and business contacts who immediately know who I am and recognise my Personal Brand with the other “Grace Mugabe” barely a consideration.
My Personal Branding story may be more extreme than many other small business owners but Personal Brand is always going to play a role in any entrepreneur’s success and it’s something that needs to be a part of the foundations of any business.