Branding is a fundamental part of every business. Without it, a company has no way of expressing who they are, what they do and why the do it. Branding helps organisations to differentiate themselves from their competition, and affords them the ability to create a connection with their audience, something which is vital, especially in a competitive environment.
But branding isn't just for organisations. Individuals are increasingly engaging with personal branding in an effort to put themselves out there and to get the step up above their competition, be it in an interview process or otherwise.
But what is personal branding and why should we be doing it? This blog will help you break down the basics of personal branding, help you understand the benefits of having one and aid you in your creation of your own personal brand.
1. What is personal branding?
Personal branding defines who you are as a person and what you do best. It should help a potential employer or client understand your personality and your strengths. It is not simply a cool logo on a business card or CV (not anymore at least). With the rise of social media, personal branding has become a lot more accessible and individuals have a lot more opportunity to present their personal brand on a wider platform. You can use your brand at any stage of your career and in fact, it should grow with you from job hunting after school until you retire.
2. Why should I create a personal brand?
- Understanding your strengths: developing a personal brand first and foremost forces you to figure out what you're good at. You cannot create a personal brand without first understanding your strengths (and how to leverage them). Once you are clear about your talents, you can then begin to showcase them through your personal brand. This is what makes you stand out and will in turn enable you to have better progression in your career.
- Personal development and career success: Creating a personal brand will aid you hugely in your career. Having a well developed personal brand will allow you to get ahead of the crowd. An established brand will mean that your potential employer will possibly already have an understanding of you and what your capabilities are. This will put you miles ahead of the other candidates.
- Continuous improvement: managing a personal brand means that you should be constantly making changes and improvements. As you take on new roles or tackle new projects, you pick up new skills. As you gain more and more experience, your personal brand will evolve. Therefore having a personal brand helps you in your continuous enhancement and self improvement.
3. How do I begin to create my own personal brand?
Before social media, personal branding mainly consisted of creating business cards and networking. While those offline factors are still necessary, the digital world has made personal branding a lot easier and allows you to get more creative with it. Here's some tips on how to get started:
1. Self Analysis
With any type of branding, analysis is the first step that should be taken in order to fully understand what your strengths and weaknesses are, which will help you to set goals. You should try to figure out what makes you different or what will make you stand out from someone else. For example, a girl (lets call her Cara) who has just finished a business degree is searching for a full time position. She wants to develop a personal brand to enhance her chances and advance her career possibilities. Cara began to think back to her days in school and college. She asked herself 'what was I good at?' and 'what did I enjoy?' Following this, she identified creativity as one of her key talents.
But identifying strengths is only one part. You need to also understand what you're not good at. This may be because you may want to improve in those areas, or it may be that you want to avoid those topics all together. Either way, you must understand both what you are good and and what you are bad at as it will all come together as a way of describing you, which at the end of the day, is what a personal brand is all about.
Another aspect of analysis you may want to undertake is a social media audit. Often, an employers first call to action once they've read your CV or application is to google you. What you post on your social media accounts (yes, even your personal ones) will stick in the minds of employers. Be mindful of what you share and keep it clean.
Your social media platforms are a representation of you and your brand so think about your content as a positive way for you to demonstrate your talents.
Top tip: Never discuss an ex employer or company on social media. No matter how bad your experience was, you should not speak poorly of them on a social platform. This can be taken very seriously and will make you look bad to a potential employer.
Here's some more information from The Drum about how to analyse your skills and attributes.
2. Set Goals
Once you have made note of all of your strengths and weaknesses, you can begin to set goals. What do you want to achieve? What do you want your personal brand to say about you? Using the same example as above, Cara may want to use her creativity to create a career. She began to look into more creative business roles and from this, set herself a goal to land a position in an advertising agency. Setting goals will help you to monitor and keep track of your success and failures and will help you to see the results of your efforts.
3. Build Your Platform
Now that you have examined your skills and set goals based on this, you can begin to develop your collateral and create a platform for people to find out about you. Collateral could include a business card detailing your contact details and a brief description of you and what you do. You may also do up flyers and other promotional materials depending on your area and your level of advancement. For example, Cara put together a portfolio of her most creative assignments which she completed throughout her degree. She began to bring this to interviews and eventually got a job in an advertising agency.
In terms of creating a platform, having a website would be a great way to put yourself out there and show your skills. But not everyone has the time or money to develop their own website. Social media is a cheaper and quicker alternative and is a great way for you to present a one stop shop for all things you. Instagram has seen huge increase in popularity in recent years and is an excellent medium to present an online portfolio. This is especially useful for those in creative and visual fields.
For example, say Cara has been working in advertising now for a few years. She wants to move to a bigger company to access larger clientele. She may create an Instagram account solely for her own creations which she has made over the years. This will give potential employers a space to view her work and to get an insight into her abilities. This also would contain contact details for Cara whereby businesses could reach Cara for job openings and so on.
Top tip: try sharing articles, blog posts and news stories relating to your interests and brand characteristics. This will show that you have an innate interest in these topics and will associate those issues and conversations with your brand.
Need more help? check out this article from the Digital Marketing Institute on personal branding through social media .
So now that you know what personal branding is, why you should have a personal brand and how to create one, the only thing left to do is to get started! If you already have began to develop your own brand, there are a multitude of things that you can do to constantly improve it. Get creative and don't be afraid to put yourself out there.
Keep an eye on our blog over the next few months for blog posts on reputation management, networking and much more!