Something that really interests me about our generation is the idea of “personal branding”. For just about a year, I’ve been revamping, redoing, and re-branding myself. I graduated 6 months ago, and because I still don’t have a “real” job (although, I am closer than I’ve ever been), I feel like I’ve failed myself in the department of a good, personal brand, so I’m reinventing the wheel.
I re-did my website today, with hope that maybe I’ve hit my stride, but while re-imaging myself, I asked the question “What’s in a personal brand?” and “How are you supposed to make a personal brand work for you?”
I thought of the things that helped me create a “brand” for myself, and I thought I’d share them.
A personal brand HAS to be personal, but not too personal. – It’s all about you, no matter how conceited that sounds. It’s about who you are, where you’ve been, what you’ve come from, what you do and why you want yourself out there. All of those things put together tell people about you, and it tells people why they should hire you, work with you, or want to know you. It also tells them why they should read blogs about you, or follow your projects, and your successes (or failures, because there are failures). Being personal makes you interesting. Very few people will admit it, but people do like to know what makes others human and how others work. At the same time, no one needs to know when you poop. It’s personal, but not that personal.
You need to stand out – What makes you different from other people? Everyone is a “hard worker” and “detail oriented,” but how does your work ethic and your attention to detail make you different? How can you get that across in your brand? What words epitomize you, and what can you do to stand out?
It’s really okay to stand out (people will fight you on this, they really will) – I have a crazy looking resume (I might do a post later about the evolution of my resume, it’s really hilarious how many changes I’ve been through), but that resume has landed me countless complements from hiring managers, and people who come across it. Even though a lot of them tell me that I don’t have enough experience for what they’re looking for, they still tell me things like “I don’t normally respond to applicants, but your resume instantly stuck out to me,” or “your approach to your resume is brilliant.” I remember when people told me I was insane for not having a two color, Times New Roman, Word document for a resume. Standing out pays off. It gets you good attention.
You need a visual representation of your personality: get a logo- Something that all brands have in common is that they have a logo. How many times have you seen the Target, Gap, or Coca-Cola logos and you weren’t sure of what those things meant? Never. Having a logo is an easy way to make people remember you. It’s something that can complete your brand, and it makes you look professional, and thoughtful.
Your interactions on social media are also apart of your brand- Social media is an incredibly important part of our world. It has taken us from communicating over the phone and in person to having constant contact, and immediate updates on our friends’ lives. Your interaction with people, your posts, and your thoughts are all apart of your brand. You can use social media to your advantage to really identify yourself. You don’t have to be a celebrity for people to care about what you say.
A brand is ever-changing – Even if your brand doesn’t visually evolve, the more you develop and change, the more your brand will. It’s okay to change. Creating a personal brand is all about finding who you are, and showing it off to everyone else.
A brand forms outside of the internet too- Don’t forget that your brand isn’t just a presence online. Your brand takes shape through personal interaction, and that’s something that’s important to remember. Your brand online gives you a presence, but it’s completely up to you to take it with you to your professional life, and own it.
Lastly, friends are one of the most important part of your branding process, what you think is awesome, they’ll help knock you down a peg on. Your friends will see you in the best light, and they’ll often help you to fix mistakes you might not see on our own.
I think it’s really important for young people to brand themselves. To be able to figure out what makes you unique and show that to other people shows a maturity and professionalism that most of your peers, and people who are older than you don’t even have. It seems really dumb when you’re young (for a long time, I thought it was really self-absorbed to even have your own domain name), but it’s something that sets you apart from the pack. Because I’m trying to find a job in such a saturated job market, I’m figuring out that it’s more important than ever.