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069. The Black Woman Brand: The Simple 4-Step Method to Branding Yourself

Black women are currently the most educated group in America, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. The report also shows that a higher percentage of black women (9.7%) are enrolled in college than any other racial or gender group, including white men, white women, and Asian women. This statistics is particularly worthy of note because it's the first time in American education history that black women are leading the way.

But the shocker comes from the fact that despite this admirable feat achieved by black women, their earnings is still substantially lower than either their white men or black men or their Asians and Latinos counterparts. This goes a long way to show that black women are grossly undervalued and underpaid in today's workforce.

Even though salaries earned by educated black women have risen considerably over the past two decades, the wage gap persists. So can we get a peep into how wide this gap is? On the average, an American woman earns about $39,000 per year compared with the $50,000 that an average man earns according to Upworthy. Experts opinion is that education alone cannot bridge this wage gap. In a study, The American Association of University Women found that college-educated women earn 5 percent less the first year out of school than their male peers.

So where do black women go from here?

The simple, yet very powerful and proven solution is Personal branding.

That’s right, brand yourself. Take control of your career, your success. Remove that cap off your earning potential by unapologetically branding yourself as a thought leader in your industry on your own terms because once people begin to identify you with a specific area of expertise, in no time you’ll become the go-to-person in that line or niche.

So what does it mean to “brand yourself?”

Branding yourself means making yourself visible, and communicating via all avenues your personal value and what you stand for, with total clarity and consistency according to Forbes contributor Martin Zwilling. It’s especially important to highlight your uniqueness in some easy-to-remember way, so people will think of you and what you do, in case they need your product or service.

So in which way can we black women differentiate ourselves?

Not only are black women considered the most educated group in America right now, but we also represent the largest group of emerging entrepreneurs.

Branding yourself as an entrepreneur can be overwhelming and often seems like a daunting task. As an entrepreneur you should be investing just as much time into marketing and building your brand as you do in providing your products or services because consumers want to identify and engage with the people behind the organizations they choose.

The workforce has become more competitive than ever with more and more individuals earning college degrees and leveraging their skills.

So how do you stand out amongst the crowd?

Learn to leverage your education, plus unique skills to brand yourself as a thought leader in your given industry. That’s right! You have to start viewing yourself as an authority figure in your industry and it’s not as difficult as you might think. Here’s my 4-step method for branding yourself in your industry.

Step 1: Find Your Purpose or Passion

The first step to branding yourself is to get clear on who you are and what value you offer to your customers or clients. Discover what it is that you are passionate about, pinpoint your expertise and how you can leverage them to add additional value to your workplace or target clients. Identify skills or things within your industry that you can be considered very knowledgeable or could become an expert. Determine who you help and why you help them. What wants or needs what you have to offer? Develop your sweet spot.

Step 2: Conduct research

Once you have your sweet spot and have identified your ideal client, it’s time to do your research. Take an intimate look at your ideal client. Get to know your clients or audience inside out. Who is your audience and what do they want? How do they spend their day? Who do they follow on social media? What do they need? What do they struggle with? Build a client profile, the more information you know and the better you understand your ideal client the better equipped you will be to fulfill their needs. Identify their burning problems and build more products and services with solutions to their problems. This is particularly important because having a special affinition with your customers can propel your business growth. According to Guy Kawasaki, enchanted customers elevate your brand, like advocating a good cause.

Step 3: Manage your Online Presence

The next step is to get online. Get busy providing quality content online. Start interacting with your target audience or ideal clients to establish yourself as an authority or thought leader within your niche. Get on social media platforms, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Periscope or wherever it is that your target audience hangs out; you should be there interacting with them; answering industry specific questions, sharing useful tools and resources that can help them, share your own personal successes and failures but in doing this, one key thing to aim for is consistency. Everything from color to descriptions to images etc. must exemplify your value proposition to your target market. Additionally, you can establish your own website with valuable content or a blog under your own name or brand. Another way to share content online and brand yourself is by hosting weekly/monthly conference calls or webinars for your audience. Be creative, the possibilities are endless.

Step 4: Get Offline

Aside from being present online, you need to establish an offline presence too particularly if you are targeting a specific location or geographical market. I know social media has become a popular tool in gaining leads, but the truth is old fashion networking still works wonders. Not to mention, even in the online space it is necessary to meet with your client face-to-face or via the phone to turn leads into paying clients. So get offline, get out there and network. Go to meetups, conferences, personal and professional development workshops, happy hours, etc. While you are out networking, your intention should be to generate brand awareness of who you are and what product or services you offer. If you are unable to locate events in your area to be afraid to branch out and travel to other locations where you know your ideal clients fellowship. If all else fails, hosts your own events and workshops.

We deserve to live amazing lives, despite what society would like us to believe. The world wants to hear what you have to say! Branding yourself allows you to showcase your talents and expertise as a thought leader in your industry. Make sure your brand and message you convey to your audience are congruent. Be consistent with your message and be an active contributing member of your specific community and your brand will thrive in no time.

**This article was originally posted in VEU Magazine.

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