Think of any established brand—Starbucks, for example—and immediately a distinct image comes to mind. Whether it’s the recognizable white cup with the familiar green siren, or the image of a cozy coffee shop with local patrons, Starbucks has established a brand for themselves, and it isn’t going anywhere any time soon.
In 2011, the Seattle-based coffee company got rid of the “Starbucks Coffee” text on their cups, leaving the cups bare, with just the distinctive siren pictured. Bold move, considering they were assuming people walking down the street would know that a passerby got their coffee from Starbucks, and not the chain next door. The assumption worked, because now I bet you’re scratching your head trying to remember when there were words on the cups. Starbucks has mastered what it means to set yourself apart from the competition with their successful brand imaging, and it’s time for you to do the same.
Personal branding is essential in today’s world. If a stranger looks at your marketing efforts and can’t tell who you are and where you’re going, then it may be time to get serious about changing up your brand.
Why it matters:
Your personal brand says a lot about you, professionally and personally. It’s what people think of when your name comes up in conversation, or how they view you when you walk into a room. Building a strong brand in business matters because it can set you apart from someone else. Why should a person do business with you over someone else? This is where your brand can make all the difference. It can truly be a deciding factor in whether your career sinks or swim. It may sound dramatic, but this transparency can be important to your future goals and career aspirations.
It’s also a chance to show your creativity. Whether or not you have a creative 9-5 job, your brand is where you can truly let your individuality shine through. This is why so many people vouch for the importance of personal branding—while you can’t control everything that happens to you in life, you can control how you present yourself to others.
How can you build your brand?
Create a unique logo.
Having a logo exclusive to you is truly the first step in getting your brand off the ground. A winning logo has many varying aspects, but the most important part is that it reflects who you are as a professional, while also showcasing your individuality. Our creative services team stresses the importance of choosing the right color palette, keeping it simple, and sticking with one font.
Use social media.
The easiest way to stand out with your personal brand is through your social media outlets. Are you utilizing LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to their fullest potential? Make a note to post regularly on those accounts—particularly ones that you feel best represents who you are. If you want to define yourself through the photos you take, consider Instagram. If your strengths lie in writing, then your brand may be better suited for Facebook or Twitter. If your resume is your pride and joy, make LinkedIn your best social media feature. No matter which platform you decide to spend the most time with in terms of building your brand, all should be updated with your most recent info—pictures, career changes, a strong bio, and, of course, unique posts.
Posting both organic (original posts you created) and curated (retweets, reposts) content is important to having an authentic social media identity. Follow industry leaders in your field (or the field you want to be in, if a career move is on the horizon), and interact with them by sharing their content. This can help gain traction on your own social media platforms while also being a strong networking tool.
Find your niche.
Think about something that sets you apart from the rest. Whether it be a hobby or a passion, post about it often. People love hearing about what you’re doing outside of work, and this can also be a chance to help you carve out your own unique corner of the internet. That thing you love that few other people do can really make your brand flourish. Incorporating this niche into all aspects of your marketing efforts should be a main focus. Consider even creating a personal tagline, which could take your brand to the next level. It’s about owning that thing that sets you apart, and intertwining it with your brand as often as possible.
Have a game plan.
It’s important to go into personal branding with some sort of plan. You don’t need an exact blueprint for marketing yourself, but start to think of yourself as a product. Going back to the Starbucks example, you want to determine what sets you apart from the pack. Everyone’s favorite interview question: “where do you see yourself in five years?” can actually help with your personal branding roadmap. Think about the job you want to have, what position you see yourself in within a company, and other personal achievements you hope to accomplish. Make your personal brand reflect these goals.
Be both professional and personal.
Many people think you can’t divulge information about your personal life on social media if you’re trying to keep up with a personal brand. But the point of building a brand is actually the opposite. You should post about things happening in the private sphere of your life. People want to know about the things you love—like your funny pets, your family vacation to the tropics, and that book you read that you loved. This is what makes you human, and after all, people want to follow a person, not a robot.
People online have such short attention spans that sometimes these more personal, quirkier posts are what makes people stick around and really get to know the real you. Case in point: even brands like Wendy’s are taking a more personal approach to social media branding. It can make all the difference when you start incorporating more of a narrative into your brand strategy.
However, make sure to continually monitor what both you and others are posting online. Does your best friend have an embarrassing photo of you on Facebook? Did they tag you in a #NSFW video that popped up on your timeline? Reach out to your friends and un-tag yourself from these detrimental posts. So it goes, nothing online is ever truly deleted. Follow the grandmother rule: if you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see something, don’t post it for everybody else to see.
While building your empire sounds straightforward, without the right resources, it can be an overwhelming undertaking. Make sure you utilize LinkedIn for all it’s worth. This includes connecting with other professionals, sharing posts from colleagues, updating any career changes, and essentially using it as your personal website. For your professional aspirations, it doesn’t get any better than building a strong LinkedIn profile.
If you want to up the ante for your personal portfolio, use a site-builder like Wix, which guides you through the process of making your own website. With a variety of templates, you’re sure to find one that you love, yet can also customize to achieve the look you want.
Another in-person tool you can use to build your brand is volunteering. This acts as a great way to grow your network, your resume, and your personal brand—both in-print, face-to-face, and online. Strive to volunteer at least once a month, and adjust accordingly if that’s too much or too little for your schedule.
To sum it up:
Your brand is how you want to be seen by the world around you. No, you don’t have to live and breathe your personal brand, but it should be something you’re continually building upon as you go through both professional and personal changes. Writer Tom Peters put it best when he said, “All of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.”