Skillstalk recently published How to Create a Personal Brand and Why You Should where the concept was broken down and explained. The idea is, the with the vastly increased speed of information sharing, your personal brand has become the most important way to get noticed in your field. If you don’t commit time and effort to managing your personal brand you won’t get as far in the job market as those who do.
Everybody knows what “branding” is or has an idea of what it is. Branding is a heavily used term nowadays (perhaps overused) and you’d be forgiven for tuning somebody out when they begin discussing branding. The truth is that it is a buzzword that certain people will use to make themselves sound important or sophisticated; they’re not.
A popular job seeking blog suggests, “Your personal brand will include elements like your professional experience (MYOB, coding or management skills) and it might also include your passions (charity work, the great outdoors) and it may even inform what you plan to do next – your ‘big picture thinking’. Your personal brand is a snapshot of ‘you’.”
But branding can be a very important component for people and companies, so important, in fact, that no company has ever succeeded without an effective and cohesive branding strategy. Now that we live in the glorious internet age, it’s never been more imperative to develop your personal online brand and it’s never been easier to do so. You need to know how to do it right though. So read on and discover how to create your own online personal band.
How can a personal brand help you with job seeking?
Perhaps the reason the word “brand” is overused today is because it is so broad that it can be applied to almost anything. Indeed, a brand can be anything. A logo, a slogan, a jingle, a tone, a temperament, even a colour, they can all be brands or part of a branding strategy. When you see three stripes on clothing you think of Adidas.
To brand is to create a connection in people’s minds between a company and ‘symbols’ that will remind them of the company, the brand. A personal online brand is just that, creating connections between symbols and signifiers for people to associate with you and your online presence. Or, at least what you want people to associate you with. A good exercise in doing this is using Instagram to curate the photos which you post to all have a similar look and feel.
Why should you create a personal brand?
Human beings are complex. We are not one-dimensional. We have intricate personalities full of inconsistencies and contradictions, and that’s ok. But that’s not ok for a business, company, or a public figure. When you brand yourself, you’re showing the world the side of you that you want them to see. You don’t want your public image to be complicated. It should be simple, relatable, and instantly recognisable.
That’s what branding does for you. You create a consistent image of you or your business so that people understand what you provide and trust what you stand for. Ultimately, you are assigning preferred associations between people and your business.
How to create a personal brand
It can be challenging trying to figure out how you want the world to see you. That’s why you should do some research first; research on you. Ask your friends, family, colleagues, clients, anybody who knows you reasonably well, to tell you how they would describe you to others. What words or phrases do they use?
After you get a sizeable amount of responses, look for reoccurring descriptors. If everybody thinks you’re reliable. Great! That can be part of your brand; emphasise your reliability. Maybe people think of you as a snappy dresser because they often to see you in a suit. Excellent! Make sure public images of you show you dressed in a nice suit.
How to create a mission statement
Before you start your blog or website and sign up to every social media service ever, sit down and think of a personal mission statement. This can be public, too, but at least you should know what your ultimate goal is. Be specific. “I want to make a boat-load of money,” is probably not a suitable mission statement but hey, it’s a start.
You want to target everything you say, do, and write towards this goal or mission. For example, let’s say you’re a freelance web-designer and you want to accentuate the artistic and creative quality of your work. Then everything you post, tweet and advertise should communicate that your designs are unique and as far from the cookie-cutter as possible. This way, when somebody wants an outlandish website for their business, they’ll think of you.
The importance of “standing out”
Another important step before you create dozens of accounts on various social media platforms, is to give your online presence an audit. Maybe there’s somebody with the exact same name as you in a similar field. Perhaps you share your name with a celebrity or public figure who will bury you in search engine results. That’s not good and you need to find a way around that.
This doesn’t mean you have to go and change your name to something outlandish (“Reginald H. Swallow-Tail”, anyone?), just try using a middle name or initials instead. Furthermore, a prominent logo and photograph are also indispensable components of a successful brand.
If you can, you really ought to invest in a professional photographer for your business photos and maybe even a designer or artist for your logo. Use the same photo for all your accounts or use similar photos, with the same background and maybe the same clothes or colour of clothing (or stripes, everyone loves stripes). You want to create a uniform look to your online brand.
Inconsistency is the most common mistake people make when trying to create a brand. You can do everything else right, but if you’re inconsistent, your branding will fail. Use the same colour scheme for your website and social media accounts. Only post, write, and tweet about topics that are related to your brand. Keep the kitten videos and “21 Amazing Things you didn’t know about Pudding” articles to your personal account; they have no business being in your business.
Try to keep the same tone for everything as well. If you want to be purely formal and professional, then don’t make jokes or use slang. But if you want a warmer and lighter tone, don’t be too serious. Also, never forget to include keywords related to your brand that people often search for, that way your site or account will pop-up in search engines more frequently.
Now, to begin your personal brand journey
Now you should be ready to get out there and start building your brand, so, get to it! Let us know how it goes. What have been your experiences in online brand building? What do you find works and what doesn’t? We’d love to know.