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Sept. 12, 2022

Define, Develop, and Display a Stand-Out Personal Brand

Define, Develop, and Display a Stand-Out Personal Brand

We're talking with Tonya Eberhart and Michael Carr, who are partners in Brandface, the most comprehensive personal brand-building system across the globe.

They're also international bestselling authors and hosts of the Be Bold Branding podcast. They have helped and inspired thousands of coaches, consultants, and creators to define, develop and display a standout personal brand so they out-market and outsell their competition. Their mantra is people don't do business with a logo, they do business with a person. 

Toby Younis: I used to teach classes in sales techniques.

In those classes, we talked about how people don't buy from companies. They buy from people. That was in a business-to-business and a business-to-government world. But I think it applies across the board. 

Shelley Carney: It's not very often that we interview couples and we personally are not married. We're best friends. So we always wonder, are you a couple? Are you best friends? Are you business partners? Tell us about yourself, how you got together, and about your business.

Tonya Eberhart: I'll answer that with all three. We got together when Michael became a client of mine. He was my first Brandface real estate client. He did not know at the time that he was a Guinea pig because I was writing the first Brandface book in the series. Brandface was about to become a business and I utilized all the personal branding concepts that I had created from the things I learned in the previous 24 years and his business skyrocketed. 

I asked him, would you please become my co-author in the second book in the series? It was focused on real estate. That worked pretty well. Then I asked, would you be my business partner? It all flowed from there. 

Michael Carr: That was my perception of how things worked out too. We were the best of friends and worked seamlessly together. We knocked around the idea of dating. But when you own a business together, and that's your baby, you don't want to mess it up.

After about five years of doing that, if we were dating other people, nobody else liked the fact that we were best friends. 

Now we're everything.

Toby Younis: We've been together for 10 years now. We met in a very similar way. Shelley was a team member on a project that I was running. She was a really hard worker and I promised myself that if I ever needed a production assistant, I was going to ask her to be my production assistant. It just evolved from there.

Michael, I noticed your accent is significantly different from Tonya's. Tell us about that.

Michael Carr: What accent?

Tonya Eberhart: We grew up 45 minutes away from each other. I'm a Southern girl.

Michael Carr: She's a Georgia-born Southern girl and I'm a Georgia born Southern guy. But she had a little different path and her travels took her away for many years. She ended up in Ohio and lost her accent somehow.

Tonya Eberhart: I spent time over the years in California. I've lived in North Carolina and South Carolina. I grew up in north Georgia very near where Michael lived, although we didn't know each other at the time I left. 

I left that area when I was around 19 years old and I had a theater scholarship at a local community college. I decided that's not big enough. I want to go to one of the best theater schools in the country. 

So I researched that and headed off to Florida State University. They have a fantastic theater program there. When I got there, they informed me that there were only so many roles they could cast me in because I was too Southern. 

I very promptly enrolled in some transatlantic voice classes. It literally leveled out my Southern accent. You can still hear it sometimes, especially if I get really mad.

I spent time in Florida where nobody in Florida is from Florida. They're from all over the world. Then I went up to Ohio, which does not have a real distinctive brogue. 

Toby Younis: I was born and raised in New Mexico and left with a New Mexican accent, which has a slight Spanish flavor to it. But by the time I had finished my travels, my family would say, you really sound funny. You don't talk like you're supposed to talk. 

Let's get back to Brandface. Tell us about the Brandface concept.

Tonya Eberhart: When I went to theater school, I quickly decided that was not the life for me. I would rather party than work so hard. I went to a party school but I was selling vacuum cleaners door to door to pay for my college education. That's where I first learned how to craft my own story to get in the door. People don't open their doors up and say, here's my wallet. Take all my money and leave me a vacuum. 

I did that for three years and I was “discovered,” by somebody in the radio industry. They said, you should apply for a sales position in radio. 

That worked and 18 years later, I was still in the media world. The moment I hit the radio world, I noticed that a lot of the business owners that were the most high profile, the most successful, and number one in their industries, all had one thing in common.

They were the face and the voice of their own business. 

They were in their radio, newspaper, and television commercials. There was no internet back then. 

Another thing I noticed was I was getting zero respect. I was brand new. I was young, I was knocking on doors and most of them were slammed in my face.

They weren't taking me seriously because these were people spending $5000 to $15,000 a month in radio advertising. That was a lot back then. I wanted to be part of that, but I was not positioned that way. 

I very quickly learned that if I wanted to change the way people saw me, I needed to change the way I presented myself.

That led to helping other business owners and entrepreneurs position and present themselves, their stories, and their businesses uniquely across all different mediums. That's how personal branding got started nine and a half years ago and Brandface was born as a result.

Toby Younis: How much in terms of books and courses have you produced in that nine years? Because it sounds like that's the point at which you had to start putting things out that validated what you were trying to teach people.

Tonya Eberhart: In those nine years, we produced four books in a Brandface series, one for business owners, one for real estate, one for home improvement, and one for entrepreneurs. 

In terms of courses and programs, we do have a self-branding course online. It teaches you everything you need to know top to bottom on how to personally brand yourself. 

We also have a done-for-you program where you answer questions and tell us what you like and what you don't like. We handle the rest for you.

That's what we started to build right away because we realized the people we were dealing with were so busy. Not only did they not know how to present and package their own story and their business, but they didn't have the time to do it.

Shelley Carney: Tell us about how you approach personal branding, what that is, and why it's important for entrepreneurs and content creators.

Michael Carr: When we're marketing ourselves in any entrepreneurial space, we could tell people we're better. We're bigger. We're the first. All of those things are subjective. 

If you tell somebody how you're different, it's inarguable. 

That is the very crux of the approach that we take when we work with somebody on personal branding. 

Our mantra is people don't do business with a logo, they do business with a person. So the whole idea of Brandface and how it works is an introduction to your ideal clients of why you're the best person for them to solve whatever problem they have. 

In my case, it's real estate. We have a growing brokerage where we use the Brandface principles every day. 

It teaches people how to view themselves and in the process teaches how to view yourself in that space. We do that through the 3d formula. We call it the 3d Freedom Formula. 

When a client comes to us and says, teach me how to position myself. What is personal branding? How is this going to work? We build off of the 3d formula: define, develop and display. We keep it as simple as possible and break them down.

In the define phase, we get to know that client. We find the specific different position they're coming from. We align them with an ideal customer. 

It's designed to get to that one niche person that you're trying to speak to so you can develop inside of that the language that matters to them. We want to find that ideal customer, possibly a secondary customer, and how your unique proposition is valuable to them. 

We spend a lot of time in that defining phase because that's where you figure out who you're talking to and what you're trying to say to them.

It's also where we come up with a brand identifier. A lot of people call it a tagline or a slogan. It's not meant to be a brand completely. 

The way Tonya taught it to me was a 75 miles an hour shiny object that catches your attention to lead you towards the next phase.

Tonya Eberhart: In the development phase, we create branding elements to get that message and image out to the world. 

We'll take a look at your brand colors. We'll design a personal brand logo. We look at brand messaging which to me is the most important part of a brand because you have to articulate what it is that sets you apart. 

There are five critical questions that we answer for all our clients in that brand messaging phase. 

  1. Who do you serve? 
  2. How do you serve them? 
  3. What qualifies you to serve them? 
  4. How does it make their life better? 
  5. What makes you different from everyone else? 

We also make sure our clients get a great photo shoot. We have a stylist on staff to help prepare them. 

The messaging articulates what sets them apart and who they serve and the imagery supports that message. 

Michael Carr: Finally, we display it and we teach them how to display it everywhere

Otherwise, it's like putting together this incredible party and not sending any invitations. Nobody even knows you had the party.

We teach them how to display that seamlessly on their personal as well as their business social media to get that point across. 

Once you have that dialed in, we call it living and breathing your brand. You have to live it and breathe it every day. After a while, it becomes seamlessly inseparable from who you are.

You find that you're constantly talking to your ideal customer, but it's effortless.

Toby Younis: What's the difference between branding, marketing, and selling?

Tonya Eberhart: We look at marketing as simply utilizing various different marketing vehicles or channels to get a message and image out to the world. It's just the vehicle by which you deliver it.

The message and image you put on those marketing vehicles is your brand. That is your influence and the way you want people to view you. 

Every time you put a message or an image out there, you're telling people, see me this way. 

Advertising is paying for that message and image to be put out there. 

Michael Carr: Being a lifelong salesman and growing up in a family of salespeople, it's always fascinated me that it's impossible to convince people against what they already believe.

I don't care how good of a salesperson you are. It's impossible. You might get hyped up and convince them they need this hot rod convertible because it's a gorgeous 80-degree day and no humidity and everything's perfect. But the next day when they see the sticker price, they're talking themselves out of that huge buyer’s remorse.

We approach sales more like enlightenment about something somebody hasn’t thought about before. 

When you say, here's this shiny new red convertible car and they're like I came in for a sedan, you're not selling them the red car. If you do it correctly, you're enlightening them that they might rather have this. Then it's their own mind that is convincing them.

Branding and marketing work seamlessly with that. 

When you dial in personal branding, you're talking to that ideal customer that already has that in their mind. So, if you're selling houses or widgets, you're a vet, coach, speaker, or author, you're already talking to people that are looking for what you're presenting.

Branding presents you as the only person that can give it to them. 

It's going with the grain, instead of against the grain. We're not trying to convince people of something. We’re enlightening them about a facet that they haven't thought of yet.

Shelley Carney: Let's get a little meta and give some examples based on your business about what sets you apart from other personal branding firms.

Tonya Eberhart: The first thing is we are very comprehensive in our approach. 

Do you see this gorgeous swan gliding across the water? That's you, the customer that we're building this awesome brand for. It looks effortless, but underneath we're paddling like crazy. 

That's us paddling for the client because we do so much work that the client doesn't have to think about. We look at 77 different criteria when we personally brand somebody and that's what makes it so comprehensive.

They know that we've thought through how they present themselves. What could the possible pitfalls be to that? Is there any negative context to the brand that you're putting out there? What else should we consider? How does that affect how your new book will come out or how you introduce yourself on a podcast or how you might appear as expert guests on other people's podcasts?

A personal brand affects so many areas of your business and personal life that you have to look at all of those things. Where is it that you want to go with this brand? 

We have to build it so that it can extend to what that client is hoping to achieve.

Toby Younis: Many people I dealt with in my career were employees of large corporations that had very significant brands. 

How does an individual ensure that their personal brand isn't blanketed by the corporate brand? 

How does a person ensure that their brand coincides with the corporate brand? 

Do they have to worry about it?

Michael Carr: They should worry about that. Because even B2B, people are still putting their faith in a person on the other end. There are people who are trusting that you specifically are the person who is going to solve their problem. 

One of my favorite companies is Delta. I've flown them for years. I was a. Charter Diamond Member for seven years. They did a lot of things wrong, but I watched Richard Anderson and Ed Bastian and how they operated inside the company.

It dawned on me when Tonya taught me personal branding, they have personal brands too. 

When you're in a top 100 or Fortune 500 company, people will invest in you because you trade on the public market. 

But do they invest in you based on the fact that your name is Delta? No, they probably follow Richard Anderson and say I watched you when you were at Northwest and then you came here and then you merged the two together seamlessly. You did that on purpose and you had a 10-year track that would plan for this. 

They're investing in that person. Your faith is in the people and what that business plan says they're going to do. 

We see that as personal branding too, even though Richard Anderson would never say I'm building my personal brand.

Another example of that would be Richard Branson. He's far more famous than Virgin Airlines. I don't even know the name of his shoe company. I don't have to. But I know he owns it. He has created that brand as an entrepreneur who knows what he's doing and you follow him far more than you follow the companies that he owns that you may invest in.

Toby Younis: What would you recommend to an individual who has a well-paying commission sales position in a company that's struggling with its own brand?

Tonya Eberhart: If you're working for another company, you are there to be a reflection of their brand. So make sure that you are with a company that has integrity, and represents the things that you would like to be known for. 

There has to be some alignment, some congruence there. 

Question if you are with the right company. Every company's going to have some things that we don't agree with as potential employees or contractors of that company. It doesn't mean that you can't do your part and create your own book of business underneath that umbrella and take care of your clients the way that you want them to be taken care of. 

Toby Younis: The advice I used to give is A, are you making money? And if A, you are making money, then B help change the brand. Do what you can to improve the corporate brand, the company's brand.

Michael Carr: Joe Girard who was the greatest car salesman on earth in the mid-seventies, was only in it for six years. He sold more cars than anybody. 

But the amazing thing about Joe Girard was the first year the car dealership he worked for fired him because he was making too much money. I don't know how that's possible when he is only making 25 or 30% of the commission, they're making the other part, but that was the case.

He sold more cars than anybody else in the company, but as the owner of that company would tell you, he made his brand. 

A properly dialed-in personal brand for somebody in a commission sales position like that can affect that company in very positive ways.

Tonya Eberhart: Since the company is this larger entity, the question is better the other way around. 

Should the company be more worried about the personal brands that are out there in the street representing their good name?

Toby Younis: I had a friend who lived and worked in Washington for one of the bigger software companies and he had a year so successful that the following year, the company established what they called the Fitzgerald rule. When you asked anybody what the Fitzgerald rule was, they would say no sales professional can make more than the CEO.

Shelley Carney: If somebody is setting up a personal brand, they want to be known for what they know and what they do, what are some of the top things they should be considering?

Tonya Eberhart: They should definitely be considering, first and foremost who it is they're talking to, who it is they're trying to attract. It all starts there because how do you know where to market yourself or what to put in your marketing unless you know who it is you're trying to attract?

Once you establish that, you've got to figure out what is it that makes you unique. We all have multiple points of differentiation. We've got to focus on that one thing that really sets the tone for what we want to be known for. 

A wider perspective might be how do I want the world to view me? What do I want my legacy to be? How do I want people to talk about me when they're sitting around a dinner table and I'm not there?

Toby Younis: We've talked about the differences between branding and marketing. Let's talk about the differences between business or corporate branding and personal branding.

Tonya Eberhart: I always ask people this question, which came first, you or the business, if you are the face of the business? 

The business is an extension of your personal brand, not the other way around.

A personal brand as it relates to the face of a business is meant to be the story behind the business. That's where all businesses start, with a human story. That's the connection. 

There are blurred lines, here and there from time to time. But for the most part, your business is an extension of your personal story and brand.

Toby Younis: One of my daughters, when she was in college, wanted to start a college painting business that was going around at that time. She wanted to give it a name that sounded like it was bigger than it was.

I said if you're going to be selling in our neighborhood this summer, people know who you are and they trust you as a soccer player and a great babysitter. If you want to do business with them, forget the corporate house painting business. Present yourself as Sean Younis’ house painting business. She had a very successful summer. 

Shelley Carney: I've been listening to a podcast put out by Joe Pulizzi called Content, Inc. He encourages content entrepreneurs to plan for the future when they will sell their businesses.

If you are a personal brand and then you decide to sell your business, what are some of the problems that you might encounter?

Tonya Eberhart: The example that we used in the beginning of our Brandface book is there is one particular job title that changes every four to eight years. That is the President of United States, arguably the most powerful person on earth. That doesn't affect the respect that the office is due when it changes to the next. 

There are a lot of people that might disagree with that, depending on what side of the political realm you're on, but the point is every four or eight years, the person in that seat changes, but the seat itself does not change.

What if I want to sell my insurance company, real estate company, or car lot, and it has my name on it? People don't want to buy it with my name on it. 

Most people don't actually keep your name on it. They'll just switch out and put their name on it. 

What you're buying is the bank of business. 

You can't buy someone else's personal brand. You're buying the intellectual property, things like that.

It's not a huge deal, but I can see how, in some instances, people will be hesitant to do that. But your personal brand is still going to affect that business, whether it has your name on it or not.

Michael Carr: I always go to Kentucky Fried Chicken, and they're still putting the Colonel on everything. They're getting somebody to play the Colonel in the commercials. They're drawing a cartoon of him on the bag.

They kept using him even after he sold out. They gave him an honorary seat on the board and continued putting his likeness everywhere. 

That's a great example of how a personal brand can build a big company and still maintain that same personal brand.

Toby Younis: My father comes from a family of auto dealers. They had three dealerships, and he was the oldest so he was the CEO. He ran the one in our hometown of Santa Fe called Capital Ford because Santa Fe is the capital of New Mexico. 

That business was built around him and his personality and who he was. He would go out every Thursday afternoon and work on the used car lot just for the pleasure of rolling up his sleeves, loosening his tie, and selling rather than sitting behind a desk. 

When he passed away and they sold the business, it took that new business a couple of years to get past the fact that people were buying from Toby Younis and not Capital Ford or the Ford Corporation.

They eventually changed the name of the business. 

How can people tell that their brand is working for them as opposed to against them?

Tonya Eberhart: There are a few ways you can tell. 

Number one, if people start referring to you for what you're known for.

We had a real estate agent down in Panama City Beach and he was known as the Bucket List Broker. That was his brand identifier. 

He wanted to work with investors and he said every investor has a beach property on their bucket list.

He would go into restaurants, and they would start calling out, Hey, Peter, where's your bucket? Because he had his photo shoot done with a bucket in his hand. 

It was smart because it was memorable. 

When people start to refer to you based on your brand identifier, your marketing is cutting through the clutter. 

You're being remembered for what you want to be remembered for. 

Another way is when you are asked advice on the expertise that you have positioned yourself for. People start calling you because they know you deal with this specific thing.

They'll call Michael all the time saying, you've invested a lot in real estate. Can you give me a tip or two? 

His brand and what he stands for are cutting through the clutter.

The third one is when 65 plus percent of your business is turning out to be your ideal customers. You're not just attracting everybody. 

But my favorite is when your competitors start to make fun of you. That means you hit a nerve and they don't like it because they see your growth and they wish it was them.

That actually happens so much it's incredible. 

I say, keep going. You're getting somewhere.

Toby Younis: We love traveling together and visiting places. So, we established a new YouTube channel for that purpose. We went to an event that we wanted to cover. I'd say, have you got time for an interview? 

They would ask who are you going to do it for? 

It's for our YouTube channel, New Mexico Day Trips. 

They would say, oh, I've heard of that. 

I was surprised because that channel had been around for only a week. But they knew us long enough in the work that we do on YouTube, mostly with live streaming videos. 

Tonya Eberhart: That's a great feeling when they begin to recognize you like that.

Shelley Carney: I'm going to put you on the spot. You've been with us for 45 minutes now. What would you recommend to us that we should be doing differently or that we should do more for our brand?

Tonya Eberhart: Not knowing the inner workings of your brand and doing the homework that we usually do, I can only assess things from a surface area. 

One of the things I would do is put your brand colors behind you. 

Something that would signify the moment somebody sees this, that's Toby and Shelley.

In every one of our videos, whether it's on Instagram, YouTube shorts, or Be Bold Branding episodes, we either have orange behind us on a wall or somewhere in our environment. 

When we are in a situation where we don't have that, then we can always do a video overlay with orange text or something like that. Keep the consistency of that look and feel. 

Because a lot of times when you're in the social media feed it's something that people recognize. That helps with the instant attention-grabbing aspect of things sometimes. 

You guys are fantastic interviewers, so I wouldn't change anything about that.

Toby Younis: That's actually a green screen behind us so we have the luxury of changing it to anything we want. I think that's a good suggestion and I will take advantage of that and make sure that by next week we do have some branding back there.

Michael Carr: Your setup is really good because I haven't seen it glitch at all.

That's such a problem with virtual backgrounds. They glitch like that. Next thing you know, half your face is gone. I haven't noticed that with you guys. You've got it dialed in.

Toby Younis: We have the benefit of having a lot of experience in building production studios. 

Tonya Eberhart: Lighting is everything.

Toby Younis: What gives us the quality that you see is we went with a chroma key wall back there and the lighting helps significantly.

Tell us about your Brandface Star website, and also your Brandface free gift.

Tonya Eberhart: On the website, you're going to find more information about us personally and our stories. There is our signature 3d Formula and free training that you can access.

That's going to tell you more in depth than we've gone into today about personal branding, and why it's important. Then you have an opportunity to schedule a free discovery call or talk to us about speaking or appearing on a podcast. 

I encourage you to take a look at those video reviews on the reviews page. There are quite a few of them and you get to hear from our clients, not just from us.

Toby Younis: Then your gift page?

Tonya Eberhart: At you can choose your path and it shoots you straight to the front of the line and allows you to book something with us. We will assess your brand with you, and take a look at what you need to do to become a very recognizable, sought-after authority in your space.

Shelley Carney: Is there anything that you'd like to add that we didn't get to today?

Tonya Eberhart: I love to leave people with this thought.

You are very special

Every single person out there is special and there's something very unique about everyone. 

Growing up in a small town, we were riddled with alcoholism and addiction. I know that a lot of times the only difference between a young person waiting on the next drug deal and one going off to college with a bright future is truly self-worth.

If you can unveil your inner star and realize there's something special about you, that there is a need for you in this world, then there will be far fewer people headed in the wrong direction. 

That's what Brandface is about, helping people see that inner star and helping them to get what they deserve out of life.

Michael Carr: You get asked the question a lot of times, what would you tell a younger version of yourself now, knowing what you know? 

The thing that I would tell myself and everybody listening is to be bolder than you can imagine.

You are worthy of that, and you can obtain it. We're our own worst critics when it comes to obtaining whatever goal it is that we want. A lot of times we see that as a dream then we toss it off as just too big of a dream.

It is all possible and within your grasp, so be bolder than you can imagine.

Toby Younis: That's great advice. I have a corollary for that, but it's much simpler. When I was in the service, I worked for a very successful Command Sergeant Major. I asked him, how did you get to be the youngest Command Sergeant Major in the Army?

He said, I took every crappy job that nobody else wanted. 

I said, how did you know you were able to do it? 

He said, I just did. 

I followed that set of rules from that point forward.

I think the lesson to be learned there is you are born with all the gifts that you need to be successful.

If you're not successful, it’s because you choose not to be successful.