By Nancy Marshall, The PR Maven® 

Christine Tieri

  • Build your brand on a foundation of what drives you and your audience. Both sides of the equation are key to establishing a unique brand!
  • Get clear on your brand promise, then look for opportunities to show that you can make good on that promise through your branding.
  • Never underestimate the power of research when establishing a brand. Audience research, competitive research and brand perception research can all be helpful.

Christine Tieri never imagined that she would find herself working in advertising, branding or coaching. In fact, her initial career goal was to become an interior designer. But no great story is complete without a plot twist — and Christine shares all the twists and turns of her own story on Episode 141 of The PR Maven Podcast.

Christine was working on her interior design degree in college when she was assigned a restaurant design project. Students were expected to consider every aspect of the restaurant’s brand… and that’s where everything changed for Christine.

Rather than spending her time on the details of light fixtures and upholstery, she found herself more interested in focusing on how to brand and market the eatery. After completing the restaurant project, it didn’t take long for Christine to decide that advertising was her real passion. She changed her major and went on to work in the industry in New York City for several years.

Since she already had some experience making professional pivots, Christine wasn’t afraid to make a change when she started experiencing burnout from life on the “fast track” of agency life in NYC. At that time, she moved back to New England and started her own ad agency. During the next 24 years, Chris and her company continued to evolve and adapt to changes in the marketplace including weathering two recessions, the advent of digital advertising and the crossover from her advertising focus to brand development. And her evolution didn’t end there. Christine has since sold her agency and shifted her focus to coaching.

Christine’s unique combination of specialties and experiences have given her a real expertise in building brands, especially personal brands.

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Christine’s passion for coaching developed when she was running her own agency. At the time, she didn’t realize she was doing anything other than being a supportive boss!

“One piece of my business that I always loved was actually bringing along my employees and helping them develop their natural strengths … without labeling myself a coach or even knowing that’s what I was doing,” she says.

Christine also found herself drawn to doing the same for her clients, especially the CEOs of smaller businesses that had hired Christine’s agency for advertising work.

In her interactions with both employees and clients, she began using the Gallup Strengths Finder assessment (now known as the CliftonStrengths assessment), which analyzes individuals based on 34 specific strengths and aims to help people focus on their strengths rather than getting frustrated with what they might perceive as weaknesses.

“Why spend all that time and energy fixing your flaws, when if you spent that same amount of time and energy enhancing your natural talents, the sky’s the limit?” Christine explains.

When it came time to sell the agency, Christine decided to channel her love for the assessment by becoming a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach. Today, she uses her expertise to coach clients who want to embrace their personal strengths — and, combined with her background in advertising and brand development, it’s taught her a lot about effective personal branding.

Keep reading for a few of Christine’s best tips about building a personal brand based on your strengths and talents.

1. Figure out what drives your audience

While Christine is a pro at getting to the heart of the things that drive her coaching clients, she also knows that helping them build their brand has a lot more to do with what drives their audiences. A personal brand should be built around what makes someone different or unique, but it succeeds when it understands how to create meaningful experiences for its audience.

“If your audience of people who you want to influence or have in your circle is not resonating with what you’re saying, then either you need to change your message or you need to change your audience,” Christine says. “The audience is a huge part of that equation.”

In order for your brand to resonate with your audience, make sure your personal brand aligns with

their needs and motivations. This will ensure that potential customers walk away from every interaction with your brand with a positive feeling.

2. Design your brand around what excites you

Now that we’ve underscored the importance of being intentional about the way you speak to audiences, let’s get back to you. Your brand will be most successful if it’s designed around your personal passions. How do you see your purpose in the world? Your answer to that question should inform your brand. When you build a brand on purpose, you’ll stay motivated and enthusiastic no matter the challenges of your daily workload.

“If you answer [the call of] what drives you to get up in the morning every day, then you’re going to be satisfied within,” Christine says.

Thinking about branding in terms of your personal motivation will also help you differentiate your brand from others in your industry.

3. Show proof of concept

Successful branding needs to go beyond what drives you and your intended consumer base. It also must demonstrate to your audience that what you’re doing actually works.

“What’s your promise to your audience?” Christine asks. “How are they experiencing you? Are you delivering that day in and day out? Are you delivering on your brand promise?”

Look for opportunities whenever possible, not only to communicate about your brand promise, but to also prove you are truly “living” your brand. It will build trust with audiences and help you become a leader in whatever space you’re playing in.

This is based on episode 141 of The PR Maven® Podcast, a podcast hosted by Nancy Marshall. Weekly interviews feature industry leaders, top executives, media personalities and online influencers to give listeners a peek into the world of public relations, marketing and personal branding. Subscribe through Apple, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts.