Branding is a term that you’ve probably heard floating around products and corporate spaces. You might think of product logos, their commercial jingle, mascots, all of that. But that’s not branding. Let’s talk about what is branding.
For a business, branding is the message or story that they try to tell to endear themselves to a consumer. All of their advertising efforts are to establish and reinforce their brand. But that’s for a business. Personal branding is a bit different than the traditional corporate branding that we see everywhere.
Personal branding means you. You might not know it, but you are your own brand. If you are a working professional, then you are essentially selling your expertise and skills. Do you know of any rock stars in your industry? Anybody with a killer web presence, someone you just look at and think: “Yeah, they know what they’re doing.” It’s not accidental. That thought is a byproduct of a well-built personal brand.
A crafted personal brand can be leveraged to get the kind of jobs and opportunities that you might not even be able to imagine right now. A good personal brand is also difficult to exactly pinpoint. To best define what it is, we need to define the different aspects that it’s made up of.
The core of your personal brand is a lot like the core of a corporate brand. What is the main message that you want to convey to others? For example, Coca Cola might sell sodas, but their core message tells a story of happiness. Instead of soda, they’re really selling an experience of joy. At least, that’s how they spin it.
You’re only selling yourself here. So, your core message is really the ideal image that you want to depict to a potential client or employer. You need to figure out essentially a persona of yourself that incorporates your personality and a person that someone would want to hire.
This image is then tweaked based on the specific demands of your specific industry. That buttoned-up image might work perfectly in a doctor’s office, but might be considered too overdone in a daycare. You will know how to adjust based on your field.
You use this ideal image as a basis for how to create and convey your quality signals. Quality signals are basically the shortcuts that our brains have created to tell us whether or not something is “good.” Here, this typically means visual markers of professionalism. That could be anything from a typo-free resume to the card stock of your business card. Your personal brand should be built to hit the quality signals needed in your industry.
In short, a personal brand is the crafted image of your professional self and everything that you do to depict that image. Especially in the post-COVID workworld, this is all increasingly based on your online presence. Everything from the search results of your name down to the profile picture on your professional social media speaks to your brand. But by understanding what your brand is, you can better control what’s out there to be to your benefit.
Branding, both corporate and personal, is a broad term that broaches a lot of different things. It’s difficult to define and summarize in just one blog post. That’s why we are set to release two books just on this topic. If you’d like to learn more about branding and how to best create your own, please be on the lookout for publishing updates.