Alright, let's make sure we're on the same page, as one of the biggest issues with being professional is lack of concrete definition. You probably think of professional as suit and tie, clean cut, and stoic. But that's bogus. And it is off-base for what the actual definition of professional would entail.
relating to or connected with a profession.
"young professional people"
engaged in a specified activity as one's main paid occupation rather than as a pastime.
"a professional boxer"
a person engaged or qualified in a profession.
"professionals such as lawyers and surveyors"
Nothing in those definitions implies that one has to give up their personality, character, or style to be a professional. It seems that the only defining characteristic would be the practice of a specific activity that one gets paid for. You could pop pimples for a living and you'd still be considered a professional, so long as you get paid for it. Do you hear that? So long as you do a job and get paid for it, you are a professional. You don't have to wear a suit, you don't have to refrain from saying what you think or using slang, you have to provide something deemed valuable to be a professional.
Why do I want you to stop being "professional?" Because you box yourself in with your definition (the clean cut, suit and tie version). It makes you boring and totally diminishes the elements of your personality that make you special. Granted, this doesn't mean you should stop taking care of yourself or give the impression that you aren't put together, but that's not a hard standard to meet. If you wear a nice, unwrinkled t-shirt with a good pair of jeans, and sneakers, no one is going to think you're a slob. If they do, screw 'em. They are clearly not supposed to do business with you, but instead with someone who takes pride in posturing themselves to look wealthy rather than doing good work.
Stop trying to be professional and instead double down on being yourself, whatever that means. If you like getting dressed up, go for it! But don't let those fancy clothes become a shock collar that stops you from being yourself, telling your jokes, and saying what you feel is right.
I'm a huge Jordan Peterson fan. I've read his books, I listen to his podcast, I watch his YouTube videos, and I seek him out on other people's podcasts as well.
I've even caught myself repeating some of his phrases to others. Things like "set your house in order before you judge the world," "hierarchies are built on conscientiousness and competence," "tell the truth or, at least, don't lie," and "walk the line between chaos and order, that's where you find fulfillment."
You might think it's impressive on my part (and if you do, stop it, you're making me blush), but it's impossible to forget those ideas if you listen to the guy more than once. Truth be told, he doesn't deviate a whole lot from a few central tenants, which makes them easy to recognize and remember. It's these central ideas that become the pillars for all his other ideas to stand upon. Even when he does deviate, you can link it back to his core beliefs.
What does this have to do with branding?
Beat the hell out of one idea and let your brand become known for it, that's how you gain brand authority.
If you aren't getting tired of touting your idea about how the world should be different, then you aren't sending your message enough.
An anecdotal example: I've tried to become synonymous with the word "rebel," I've been using it for over a year. It wasn't until a couple months ago that I started having others say the word to me. Point being, it took more than a year of getting that idea out there to have others recognize it and associate me with it.
Say your idea. After that, say it again. Finally, say it again to my face. Eventually, I'll remember it.
With every challenge comes new opportunity, especially in times of crisis.
With that said, you can curl up into a ball and let the world trample over your dreams or you can do something about it. Whether you have founded a company or are involved in making a company awesome as an employee, here are three things that every brand could do right now to beef up their brand.
Set up Virtual Meetings with Customers
Think you're alone in feeling alone? Not remotely. If you have a long-standing relationship with good customers, see if they're willing to talk with you over the phone or using a screen-share. Ask them specific questions like why they chose you over your competitors, what they think could be improved about your business, and if there are other things (besides COVID-19) they wish were better in their life. You might find they show new opportunities and that recurring patterns are going on within all their lives.
Do a Brand Audit
You've got a lot of time to yourself right now. Take this as a chance to look inward and see where the gaps are. Take a look at your marketing collateral, your social media feeds, your website, anything a customer might come into contact with. Are you doing the best you can to make them feel a cohesive, emotional connection with your company? Do you look like a company that is worth talking to and doing business with? Is it out of the question to think it could be improved?
Try New Digital Marketing Tactics
You will probably suck at this when you start, but what do you have to lose? You can't meet with anyone face-to-face, so you need to have a strong presence online. Create a newsletter using Mailchimp (it's free to start), create a YouTube Channel (also free), host a webinar using Google Hangout (also free). It's estimated that we are going to be distanced for the next three months, but you can close the gap by getting online in someway. Just pick one and go for it.