“Corporate portraits are boring”
This was Yasmine’s attitude and if you think the same is true, read on…
I’m an entrepreneur, managing a language school with a team of teachers. For many years I focussed on the branding of my school because, well, it was not only my livelihood but my passion project too. One day, I met Nicole, a woman who challenged me to think differently for my business and its visibility.
We all meet people that influence and impact our entrepreneurial journey and Nicole was one of those
Nicole asked me why I was so intent on promoting my school when it was obvious that customers connected with me because they trusted me, sharing the same values and they knew that by reaching out to me in my role as my school’s business manager, they would get the results they wanted : to speak French. Even if I wasn’t going to be teaching them myself, they trusted me for matching them with the right teacher.
In 2013, I never made a wrong pairing between client and teacher. I strongly believe that the teachers I work with are the best and my clients do too, they trust my judgement.
Nicole asked me why I didn’t use personal branding to promote my school and my team.
She was right, why I was wasting my energy to promote a school when I could easily promote myself? At the end of the day, it was only me promoting and working on the visibility of my project.
Personal branding as an entrepreneur
Customers want a trustful relationship with companies, organisations and entrepreneurs. My company is based on these principles and as the face of my company, this is how my client think of me. It was clear I needed to present my face to the world, as the spokesperson for my school!
My personal branding plan included visuals; professional portraits – but not boring ones. My desire was to educate my audience about my personality, my services and why they should work with me. It’s easier to increase an impactful pitch, when customers can link it to a person or a brand.
What is the problem with some personal branding
When I met Nicole, the only personal branding pictures I saw on social media were just ugly. Let’s be honest. Companies don’t promote their new headshot on their social media, for a reason, because they are not inspiring. Corporate and professional portraits were not inspiring at all. I couldn’t identify myself and my brand with what was available on the market. Am I picky? I don’t think so. Do I have good taste, I’m convinced of that, yes.
I didn’t forget this project but I had to leave it on a side until I developed a crush on a photographer and their style. Unfortunately, many photographers try to attract as many customers as possible offering corporate, personal branding, maternity, wedding, baptism, school, engagement, product and food…
I’m personally not a big fan of super top multi-skilled businesses. I consider them like restaurants offering Chinese, Japanese and Korean food at the same time. As a client, it’s difficult for me to trust a photographer who can do everything and who are cheap on top!. You can’t be professional and provide quality doing so many different services. I’m sure of that. As a consequence, I left the personal branding project on the side and left my reflections and thoughts about it on hold.
Finding the right personal branding photographer is a challenge
I’m convinced that we don’t meet people randomly. Each person has a purpose in your life. One day, a potential customer reached me for a few private French classes. Her level in French was already very good, she just needed to brush it up a little bit. I met Rachel and I found out that she was a professional photographer. This is a sign, isn’t it?
I loved her style, it was very similar to me and my identity. I could identify with her portfolio.
In summer 2018, we planned our first photoshoot in Paris. I told her I wanted to have professional portraits but without a plain grey background!. So we decided to shoot on location and she knew exactly where in the city were the most authentic and refreshing spots.
The results of the photoshoot was stunning. In June 2020, I’m still using the portraits.
I used different pictures for each account with the same style so customers and partners can easily recognised me, my school and my business in general without getting bored of my images.
I was so happy with the positive results of the personal branding that I offered a personal branding portrait to each of my team of teachers in Brussels and in Paris. Every single teacher working with me has a portrait by Rachel and they can use their picture for their own personal branding.
This photoshoot project strengthened my business relationship with my teachers. I’m the only school in Paris and in Brussels investing in beautiful portraits for her team. I’m very happy I did.
Rachel’s personal branding gave my business project a pivot that I can’t be thankful enough for today. The results work in my favour in the long term and this is why I believe that every entrepreneur, with a big or small project should definitely work on their personal branding.