Today, I spoke with Karen Post, who is a fellow branding expert, author, social media entrepreneur, speaker and businesswoman.  Karen talks about how she’s established her personal brand, while building the brands of other companies and gives some insight into how she’s created a community around her brand, while explaining the importance of brand symbols and what we can learn from leading brands like Coca Cola.

What does branding mean to you and how has it helped shape your life as well as your clients?

Branding to me is the sum of what any entity, a company, service or person does.”

It’s what the market thinks, feels and expects. Branding has shaped my life in a profound way. My personal/professional brand The Branding Diva® has brought tremendous opportunities into my world, being a published author, a highly compensated speaker, a business expert who have been featured on hundreds of International media venues and the ability to raise money and grow my social media start up, Oddpodz.

For my clients, whether it be from a speech I delivered that inspired some on-brand action, or empowering organizations to think in a more distinct way, by embracing branding principles and practices, I have contributed to many successes because of stronger brands.

What role does a profile picture play in branding a person? Can you explain the strategy you’ve used (email/website, etc)?

A profile picture is a surrogate brand symbol when you can’t have a live connection. One’s photo or image should communicate who they are. Mine that I post in SM profiles is cropped to symbolize my creative spirit, my big smile further projects my high energy and direct style. On my website, I’ve chosen fun, again energy-driven shot of me on a bike, moving, going places and not your typical speaker head shot. All strategic. When I send email out, I use a graphic icon, my logo which is a stylized treatment of a photo, kind of Any Warhol-ish. I’m consistent with my colors, use my real signature and include a phrase that again supports my style, a bit in your face and bold.

How does one build a community behind their brand?

For over 25 years I’ve been a branding professional, focused on helping people, entrepreneurs and businesses grow and prosper. In 2000, when I started speaking on an international stage, writing for Fast Company and selling my authored works, my fan club started to blossom. In 2006, I founded a social community for creative-minded business people and professionals.

The site is a compliment to my work and preaching. It was designed to be a place where my supporters and new folks could feed off each other, share ideas and experiences around marketing, branding, creative thinking and other biz stuff. We are still a work in progress, but today have over 10,000 people in our community. Our goal is to be an alternative to the mega social platforms by keeping our content and community focused on growing businesses and careers. While my brand has certainly helped Oddpodz take off, some day soon, it will have it’s own place in social media brand world.

What can we learn from big brand name companies like Coca Cola?

Funny that you mention Coca Cola. One of my key angel investors in Oddpodz is the part of Coca Cola family. I admire the Coke brand a lot. From the beginning they have protected their brand assets, graphic marks, slogans, packaging etc. They have also leveraged all touch points in their brand communications, been consistent with messaging and voice and continue to evolve as the world does.

How have you built your personal brand to what it is today?

In 2000, when decided to become a professional speaker and author, I wrote a biz plan for me, just like I suggest companies do. Almost ten years later, I update my plan quarterly and work it with strategic, thoughtful decisions. I’ve also invested about 6-10% of my income in developing me and my brand. I’ve hired coaches, professional photographers, engaged web designers, attended expensive conferences and read great business books (like Me 2.0). You can’t ever let up on the peddle, great brands evolve, grow and sometimes stumble, but should always keep them fresh and moving forward.

Karen Post has been developing solutions and implementing methods that make things happen for more than 24 years. She is the author of Brain Tattoos: Creating Unique Brands That Stick in Your Customers’ Minds.  She started her first business at the age of 22, and built two successful companies: an award-winning ad agency and a legal communication firm specializing in high-stakes litigation. In 1999, she also raised millions for a start-up she’d like to forget. However, she believes that what does not kill you adds to your value and, in 2006, got bit by the start-up bug again and founded Oddpodz, a community and idea engine for creative professionals and businesses.  Her branding work has benefited Fortune 500 organizations and emerging small businesses in both consumer and business-to-business sectors.