Building your brand is an important subject which I believe needs a renaissance. In the world of social media, I think the some of us may be losing sight of the fact that you are not just who you say you are on your resume or business card. You are also what you do, say, post or snap.
I was blessed enough to sit in on a talk while in the University on building a personal brand. The speaker made such a lasting impression on me that the things she said have stayed with me for over a decade. This was at a time when all I had was a yahoo email address. There was no Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat but a lot of the principles she shared then are still relevant now.
A lot of people realize the importance of building a brand for their business, building a marketing plan to get that brand out there, hiring a graphic artist to develop a beautiful logo to represent their brand and so on but little do we realize that as individuals we all have a brand and we need to apply the same level of thought and care to develop that brand.
I will during this article draw a parallel between a business brand and a personal brand. I think the analogy will help send the message across.
- Picking a Name: When you are about to start a business, or launch a new product, one of the first things you do is pick a name. You want the name to be easy to remember, memorable and representative of the business or product. In similar vein, what you call yourself is important. How do you introduce yourself to your peers, coworker, clients and friends? Nicknames are not bad but your email address should not be firstname.lastname@example.org (I hope no one reading this has an email address like that). If your email address starting out was inappropriate for the business world, open a new one and keep the old one for only very close friends and family, if at all. Also, how do you describe yourself and what you do, do not presume that people understand the roles and acronyms in your company or business so please translate with a brief description which anyone can understand.
- Building a logo: When doing this for a business, you pick colors, an image or build one from scratch. You want to pick a logo which will draw people’s attention to your business. You also want a logo which does not look like someone else’s. Similarly, when building an individual brand, how you look in person and on social media is important. I cannot stress this enough. Recruiters, potential clients and everyone else checks your online presence out before or after they engage with you. Your profile picture on LinkedIn should be professional, it should show your entire face. The pictures you put up on Facebook and Instagram and snapchat and whatever else there is should be representative of the way you want people to see you. Saying to yourself, I am a student and what I post wouldn’t matter until I am ready to get a job is so uninformed I cannot even begin to tell you how much.
- Building a marketing plan: After you have a name and a logo, the next thing you do for your business or product is figure out a way to begin to get yourself out there. You print out business cards and fliers where applicable and build a social media marketing plan as well. The same thing applies with building an individual brand. Your brand is made up of your entire online and offline presence so you need to be strategic about what you say, who you follow, what you like, who you “diss” and how you share information. There seems to be a need to share everything and anything on social media these days as if social media acceptance is validation or proof that you are doing something. I honestly cannot wrap my head around it. If you are a habitual over sharer, figure out a way to use this to promote your brand and what you stand for, when making this decision also think about your future, future endeavors, jobs, political appointments and so on because as far off and farfetched as they sound, the probability is that as some point in the near or far future you would look back on that post, picture, comment or something else and wish you could erase it off the internet.
This is a pretty long post but I hope it proves useful. Please post your comments and share your thoughts on the subject.
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