Each Athena Executive Club meeting includes Business Development Training. These short sessions are designed to share useful tips, facts and ideas covering a wide range of issues relevant to executives and entrepreneurs. Athena Executive Members come from a diverse range of backgrounds with an immense wealth of knowledge and experience which we all benefit from during these member-led training sessions.
At October’s Athena Executive Group, professional photographer Sheila Menezes, gave us all some excellent tips on ensuring we maximise each opportunity we have to create a consistent brand image.
The adventure starts when you know yourself, your business and the opportunities you want to create. The goal is reached when you are able to confidently represent yourself in a manner that enhances your brand.
In business and your personal life, there are opportunities everywhere to represent yourself – think about how many times a day you (and your brand) appear in front of other people via your website, social media, meeting people at events etc. Each of these interactions needs to be strong and consistent for you to take advantage of these branding opportunities – how is yours doing at the moment?
How do you know when an opportunity is there?
An opportunity can be described as a favourable juncture of circumstances. The great optimists amongst us recognise that opportunities are everywhere if we can only open our eyes and our minds to them. As Albert Einstein believed, ‘in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.’
What can we do to create a good image?
First of all, look at what makes a bad image – i.e. unfortunate design and content, unflattering photos on your social media profiles, or conveying a negative attitude. These all create poor brand images and often remain in people’s minds much longer.
So, flip that on its head and create the best brand image you can by:
- Investing in the best design you can afford
- Using excellent content in your social media and online profiles
- Having a professional photo for use across your online platforms
- Wearing outfits to suit your shape, style, personality and business brand (get advice on this if you’re not sure)
- Being kind, positive and flexible
- Developing networking and conversational skills
Once it is perfected, a good image works for you even when you are not there. Your image is an opportunity for your authentic self to shine through and create brand consistency.
What are the best ways to remain true to our image?
Be authentic. Do what you love.
When you are following your passion and doing what you love each day, your passion shines through and people notice this. It becomes part of your brand identity. Passion kick starts the whole process.
Remember these quick tips:
- Look consistently good, be consistently great
- Don’t let your online presence be a unicorn (a rarely seen, mythical creature)
- Be real
- Manifest experience
Once we have a good brand image, is the work done?
No! In fact it’s only just begun. But it is much easier once you have worked out what you love and how to project this in your brand image.
- Do what you love to do and do it well. If you don’t love it, or you’re not doing it well you need to change it.
- Produce an excellent product. And keep it excellent. Develop new excellent products too.
- Deliver an awesome experience. It’s not just your product or service which creates the positive image but the whole experience.
- Keep learning. Never, ever stop developing your strengths.
- Avoid the excuses – it’s never too late to work on your image.
- Be encouraged, not deterred by, failure – it provides a great opportunity to re-evaluate what you’re trying to achieve
Sheila’s 4 categories for evaluating a good brand image:
F1 – Forgettable (no one wants to be this!)
F2 – Friend (people like you but not as a client)
F3 – For now (one time client – this is ok but there remains something to fix in order to capture repeat business)
F4 – Forever (the ultimate in brand consistency and where you want to always aim to be!)
Final tips from Sheila:
- Continue to work on enhancing your brand!
- Get a great team around you who all work to their own strengths and complement yours
- A quick tip for your headshot photo: avoid just having one facial expression – be relaxed and get creative. During your shoot, keep in mind the words which you would like to represent your brand – i.e. ‘trusted, fun, light-hearted’.
- Don’t obsess. Just have fun!
A talented and sought-after international commercial photographer and photojournalist working across and within San Francisco and Singapore.
During her time in South East Asia, Sheila has further explored her fascination with and love for photojournalism and contributes regularly to volunteer photojournalism projects.
She has recently completed volunteer photography for the Tribal Health Initiative in India. Check out Sheila’s Facebook page to see her amazing work on this, and other projects.
Sheila is also a well established commercial and editorial photographer and has worked with international brand names such as Sony, RedEnvelope, Restoration Hardware and Coach.
Sheila’s commitment to her art saw her complete undergraduate degrees in both Arts and Science as well as a Master of Science in Commercial Photography from the prestigious Brooks Institute of Photography in California.
A postgraduate thesis in Breast Cancer and Women’s Self-Image further solidified Sheila’s appreciation for photography within society.
At the age 15, Sheila travelled from her native San Francisco to the Maasai Mara and Rift Valley in Kenya to capture the local culture and geography of the land. Since that time, Sheila embarked on a life-long mission to captivate, embrace and inspire through digital imagery. Anyone who has worked with Sheila can attest that she has certainly achieved her mission.