Professionals are always talking about personal branding. But what does that really mean, and how do you do it successfully?
Personal branding is the practice and process of marketing yourself (and your career or passions) as a brand would. The goal of your personal branding is to establish who you are, and often to make yourself desirable to others who can help you meet your goals (ie. hire you!).
As an undergrad preparing for my career, I have been exploring my own personal brand and what I want it to be. I recently started my own website to use as a portfolio. I wanted to showcase my previous work from school and my organizations, as well as my personal passions.
At first, I found myself getting preoccupied with what I wanted my personal brand to be. Having looked up to so many celebrities and bloggers with amazing personal branding, I had high expectations. Obviously I do not have the resources of Kim Kardashian West, but that didn’t mean my personal brand couldn’t be cool and reflective of who I am.
While putting together pieces of my personal brand, I kept these thoughts in mind. Whether it be your website, resume, or Instagram aesthetic, remember these tips to give yourself direction and to stay grounded:
Be you! If your personal brand isn’t reflective of who you are, it’s not your brand. Everyone has unique qualities, skills and stories to tell. Find what pieces of you you want to share with the world and don’t be ashamed for doing so. Being authentically you will make YOU stand out.
Work with what you have.
I’m not a professional web designer nor a professional photographer and I don’t have the means to hire them. That’s ok! Creating your personal brand yourself and with your personal resources will only make your brand more authentic and give you more to be proud of (and more work to show off). You’ll be surprised with what you can create with just an iPhone, social media, and a free website builder.
Avoid comparing yourself to others.
This is the hardest part. In the age of social media, it’s incredibly hard not to compare yourself to others, but always remember you have your own things to bring to the table. Don’t get caught up in what other people are doing. Instead get inspiration, support other creatives, and focus on your own work - it’s much more rewarding than getting jealous and feeling bad about yourself for no reason.
Know that your personal brand will grow with you.
Who you were in high school is likely not who you are now. And who you are now is likely not who you will be in a few years. Everyone goes through changes and your brand should also reflect those changes. Don’t be afraid to change your aesthetic, start writing about something new, or change your logo. Every new day is an opportunity to reinvent yourself and your brand. If there’s something you don’t like, change it! You are in control of your brand.
Show personality, but be professional.
As I said before, be authentic, but your personal brand doesn’t need to reflect what you did on Friday night at the bar. You are likely using your personal brand to establish yourself and your work, so it shouldn’t be messy. Clean up your social media. That doesn’t mean strictly sharing articles on Twitter or photos that will match your grid. Appropriate tweets about how much you love Rihanna and cute selfies show your personality. Remember it is your personal brand, just remember to be professional when it really counts.
This blog post was written by Olivia Rotondo, Vice President.