Eitan Chitayat is an Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO) member in Tel Aviv where he served as a founding member of the EO Israel chapter. As the CEO and creative director of the international natie Branding Agency, Eitan has been delivering brands for companies and entrepreneurs for over 20 years by focusing on their authenticity, differentiating factors and relevance. We asked Eitan how he advises clients around personal brands. Here's what he shared:
Why do you believe entrepreneurs should not create a personal brand?
I don't think that entrepreneurs should create a personal brand because the takeaway is that they might present who they think they are or want to be (or who they think their audience wants them to be.) And it's not a creation. A personal brand needs to be an authentic representation of who you really are, not a role you are playing. You can't just make something up. You should develop your personal brand based on who you truly are. You have to be that personal brand.
At the end of the day, when people engage with you, the business world is just like real life. Your customers, clients, vendors, prospective employees or employers want to know the real you. Not a persona that doesn't stand up to who you are.
In short, I advocate that you don't create a personal brand but that you develop the brand of your own true self. And then put it out there as the authentic you.
I've outlined why it's important not to make up your personal brand in the video that follows.
You say that when it comes to personal brands, we're archaeologists rather than creatives. Will you explain that?
It's not being an archaeologist in terms of going into the past and exploring your history. It's being an archaeologist in terms of digging deep, uncovering and discovering those things that are true to who you are. It's really not much more complicated than looking in the mirror. You need to dig deep. You are putting your own personal brand out there, so it needs to reflect who you are. Are you funny? If not, don't try to make the impression that you're funny. Are you intellectually curious? Great! Show that, because you are that. If you're not creative it doesn't mean that you can't try to be creative. But maybe try to be creative in a way that feels natural without trying too hard.
How do you help clients pinpoint their personal brands and decide which aspects to focus on?
The keywords here are focus and pinpoint. We can't all be good at everything. Harness your strength and hone in on it, shining the spotlight on what you're really good at. When we're developing brands for companies, we try and get to the bottom of what is their authentic and true self. What makes them different from the competition? What are their values? What's their personality? Who is their messaging relevant to? And all of that builds toward the one core promise that you will communicate to your audience. Not many different promises--just one. Focus, focus, focus. It isn't a shopping list--you cannot be everything to everybody. So, as you're working on pinpointing and defining your personal brand, focus on your true value.
What components do you analyze when helping clients in this way?
First, what we do is try and understand what the client stands for. Why do they do what they do? What turns them on? How are they different from their competition? Who else out there is doing what they're doing, and how do they present themselves? What's their vision, what's their purpose? What contribution will they have in the world, or where can they make a difference? We even talk about where they're weaker than others. What they don't do, what they're not into. All of this sharpens the focus to further build that personal brand. Knowing what you're not is just as important as knowing what you are.
What personal branding pitfalls should entrepreneurs avoid?
- Don't try too hard. Too often, you sense when someone is trying too hard. Just way out of their comfort zone and following some guidebook for how to make an impression. Don't do that. Be yourself and get guidance on how to portray yourself, but don't invent some new public persona.
- Avoid the hard sell. Don't try and sell people on something with a hard sell. Don't be pushy. That's a bad idea.
- More is not always better. Especially now, with personal branding being the latest and greatest thing and "professional" videos posting all the time, there's this aspiration to show and deliver more and more. That's the trend. But more is not always better. Overexposure is a thing, and it can be a real turnoff. It can harm your brand.
How do you balance timeless versus trendy?
People value integrity. They can sense when you're not being genuine. That's human nature. That's the way it was, that's the way it is, and that's the way it always will be. Eventually, people find out. So it's a good idea to speak and act with integrity. That's timeless. Integrity bleeds into everything--your tone, copy and messaging, your website, how you speak to people, and the way you treat employees. Fads and trends come and go--leverage them to suit your goals, but not at the expense of who you truly are. Don't let the bells and whistles take center stage. Don't cling to trends for the sake of "keeping up with the Joneses." Integrity and authenticity stand the test of time.