Creating a personal brand
March 23, 2022
When you hear the word ‘brand’, what comes to mind?
Most likely, your head is flooded with images of L’Oréal models whispering ‘because you’re worth it’, or Nike athletes telling you to ‘just do it’. Perhaps you have a fleeting mental image of Pretty Little Thing’s baby pink, unicorn-bedecked London black cabs, or Coca Cola’s classic red bottle in the hands of a jolly, flushed-cheeked Santa Claus.
Company branding is all around us, defining our experience as consumers. Having a strong brand is crucial for companies to build a genuine relationship with their clients, transforming the sales process from a brief exchange into a truly engaging experience.
But if you think that branding falls exclusively within the remit of businesses, think again.
Due to the prevalence of social media, it’s possible for candidates to establish a unique and personalised digital presence on professional platforms in order to make themselves visible to potential employers. Not just possible, but expected. According to BBC research, 43% of recruiters frequently check digital profiles, and a CareerBuilder survey found that 70% of all employers research prospective candidates online at any given point. In order to attract attention against a sea of competitors, it’s crucial to build a personal brand in order to stand out from the crowd.
But what does that really entail? As of late, ‘personal branding’ has become quite the buzzword that we hear echoing all around the LinkedIn community. But what does it truly mean and how do you go about achieving it for yourself? Read on to find out.
What is personal branding?
Personal branding is the act of creating an online professional presence that showcases your skills, achievements, and talents to a particular target audience. Though often tailored with prospective employers in mind, a personal brand is not exclusively built around the objective of finding a new job. You could simply want to reach other people in your industry to create a platform of like-minded thinkers.
There are many avenues you can go down in order to build a personal brand. Whilst LinkedIn is perhaps the most obvious choice, many people opt to create their own website or blog. This serves as a dedicated space for you to highlight your offering. Personal branding is by no means limited to the internet; you can work on your personal brand in the real world too, by networking at events and conferences.
Long gone are the days of sending off a faceless CV through a portal and hoping for the best. By harnessing the power of the internet, you can build a dynamic online profile that puts you in the spotlight.
A personal brand is formed through any and all platforms at your disposal – your cover letter, your LinkedIn profile, your CV, your website, your blog, even your interviews – they all fit together seamlessly to create an overall picture of who you are. You can paint a portrait of yourself as a skilled professional in your field, making sure that your personality shines through in the process.
The most effective company marketing campaigns place an emphasis on personality. We’ve all had a giggle as we scroll through TikTok and come across the Ryanair plane with animated human features lip-syncing to some trending audio, or the employee dressed up in the Duolingo bird costume lumbering down the hall and chasing their co-workers, wreaking havoc in head office. As Gary Vaynerchuk explains, these famous companies ‘don’t sell – they brand’. And you can do the same.
Tips for building your personal brand
Identify your USP
Just like businesses, you need to have a clear understanding of what your unique selling point is before you start marketing yourself online. When crafting a strong digital presence, lay bare all the key information about you that sets you apart in your field.
Make it distinctly clear to people who visit your online platform what industry you’re in. Let them know what particular skills you bring to the table, what certifications you have, what your specialism is, and what your strengths are. These factors all come together to form a strong personal brand; when you think about these key considerations, you’ll know which tone to adopt going forward when telling your story. Spell out who you are and what you’re offering to your target audience.
Map out your long-term plan
When building a personal brand, it’s crucial to have a sense of where you want to be in a few years’ time from the get-go. Create a five-year plan in order to determine how you can mould your online personality accordingly.
If you know where you want to be in the long-term, you can find and follow role models who are achieving some of the goals you aim to achieve. These individuals can then serve as a source of inspiration; they can guide and inspire your personal brand. What are they posting? How are they putting themselves out there and getting noticed?
Just be sure not to model your personal brand too closely off of theirs. Remember, the key to personal branding is remaining genuine, unique, and true to you. The reason companies such as Gymshark and Dunkin’ Donuts are so effective in their marketing is because they approach it in a unique way that is completely personal to them. Whilst they respond to trends and viral topics, they do so with their own personal flair, keeping brand identity at their core.
Don’t be afraid to make yourself heard
Piping up and expressing an opinion on a platform such as LinkedIn can be daunting. The site is dominated by the voices of industry top dogs and thought leaders. Trying to make your voice heard may feel like you’re in the audience of an opera, shouting at the top of your lungs but drowned out by the piercing voices coming from the stage towering above you.
Likewise, posting on your own website or blog can be incredibly intimidating, particularly if you don’t have an established audience. We’ve all been there; getting little to no traction on a piece of work you’ve put your blood, sweat, and tears into can feel like a fruitless endeavour.
Disheartening as this may be, it takes real determination and grit to put yourself out there in this way. And it’s crucial to keep in mind that everyone has to start somewhere. There’s nothing stopping you from posting content on these platforms; your opinion is just as valid as anyone else’s. If you have something creative, helpful or insightful to say to your target audience, post content directly onto your platform or else engage with others via comments on posts that come up on your feed. Even if only one person happens upon your content, they’re sure to be impressed by your passion and active participation on the platform. Fleshing out your online profiles with value-add content is a sure-fire way to attract positive attention.
Both on – and offline, embrace networking opportunities as a means of putting yourself out there. Engage with others in your field to cultivate a valuable network, whether that be at conferences or more informal events.
Going into these networking settings, make sure that you have a clear sense of your personal brand. Once you’ve decked out your online profile, you’ll be able to translate your personal brand to the real world. So, by the time someone comes up to shake your hand, you’ll be able to introduce yourself whilst communicating your key skills and strengths concisely and effectively.
Remember, anyone can build a personal brand. But it’s important to keep in mind that you should always remain genuine; constructing an artificial personality for the sake of getting hired is transparent and ineffective. And it’s crucial to remember that cultivating a personal brand is an ongoing process; as digital platforms evolve and develop, so you must adapt your online presence accordingly.
December 19, 2023