Pia Silva is a partner and brand strategist at Worstofall Design, speaker, and author of Badass Your Brand. She is a Forbes contributor and has spoken at a host of entrepreneurial organizations including Goldman Sach’s 10,000 Small Businesses and the Million Dollar Women’s Summit and has been featured on MSNBC’s Your Business. In this interview, we talk with Pia about the importance of personal branding in the digital age, naming, domain names, and what are the most common mistakes entrepreneurs make when it comes to building a brand.
What inspired you to create your brand and why did you name it after yourself, Pia Silva?
I originally started my branding agency with my husband under the name Worstofall Design. Over the years part of how we built that brand was through my writing.
At one point I decided I wanted to write a book, and that was when I realized I had to start putting my face and personal brand out there. I wanted people to connect with me and the personal and professional stories I was sharing in the book, so in preparation, I started putting my name and face out there.
Well, it worked even better than I expected! I couldn’t believe how much quicker people connected with my writing when it was connected to my name and face, as opposed to the company brand. In retrospect it makes sense, it’s much easier to connect with a person than a company.
So over the years, I built my personal brand Pia Silva more and more and realized it was easier to get clients for Worstofall Design through my personal brand than without it. Eventually, we stopped doing much marketing directly for Worstofall Design, and instead put all the marketing through my brand. I’ve found it is a great and much easier and more effective, way to funnel branding clients to my company.
What were your considerations when picking up a domain name for your brand? Do you own any other domain names?
I was happy to own my own name as a domain, and I highly recommend anyone who’s name is still available to buy their domain right now!
But in addition to PiaSilva.com, I also own dozens of other domains! I own a domain for every piece of my business, including my book, my different online courses, and my company brand. My husband is also an artist so we own a few domains for him and his hard as well. I also have a few domains for ideas I have for future businesses!
Who is your target customer and how is your brand name helping in reaching them?
My target customer is a 1-3 person service business selling their expertise. My brand name helps me reach them because they get to know me, Pia Silva, as a person and what I stand for and that I am the expert on building a profitable, badass small service brand and business.
How do you keep your brand consistent across different channels online and offline?
I do own a branding company! So I understand the importance of consistency. Unfortunately, sometimes you can’t be completely consistent. @piasilva was taken on Twitter and Instagram, so I came up with @pialovesyourbiz on a whim and I’ve been using that across my social platforms ever since. As long as you’ve got enough consistency, I think it works. I also use the same few main images across all my marketing so people always know it’s me.
Is there anything you would’ve done differently with regards to your personal brand, if you could go back in time?
Everyone’s brand evolves, as it should. I think it’s impossible to say what I should have done before since whatever I did before is what led me to where I am today. Unlike most people probably, I made a decisive effort to build my personal brand at one point, after not really showing my face online much at all, in anticipation of my book launch, so I had a lot of control over what I wanted it to look and sound like from the beginning.
You are very open in your approach to branding in terms of language and presentation, does that not scare a certain part of your audience away? Is it an approach that would work for anyone or it’s specific?
I don’t think it scares part of my audience away, but it certainly scares some people away. And that is by design! I believe a small service business should be aggressively open with their brand so they can magnetically attract “their people” and repel everyone else. When you are a small service business you don’t have the time or money to slowly let people figure out who you are and what you’re all about with a “nice,” generic brand. You need to say something that puts their feet to the fire: in or out? Make a decision! That will turn people into fans and customers much faster, and get rid of people who were never going to buy from you anyway.
In your experience, what are the most common mistakes entrepreneurs make when it comes to building a brand?
They say too much to too many people. They explain and teach instead of excite and motivate. They think information is what is going to connect, but it’s really the personality. They try to go after everyone instead of picking a narrow focus being really strong in that space for those people. They are afraid to say something that might lose them a potential client, and that makes their messaging weak and generic. Weak and generic messages are forgettable, and when you are a small business and forgettable the only other way to get clients is to show up and remind people over and over again that you exist, and that is impossible to sustain.
You wrote a book, what is it about? What was the experience of writing it like?
My book, Badass Your Brand, shares the quickest way to start attracting high paying clients and building a reputation that will afford you the freedom of lifestyle that you want — without the startup costs. It’s a step-by-step guide to turning your expertise into profit.