How to Cultivate Your Personal Brand
A brand is the essential identity of something. It encapsulates the mission and values of a product, company, or person. With the rise of social media, brands are no longer just the domain of household products or Fortune 500 companies, but individuals. As a professional, you have a brand whether you know it or not. Successful professionals cultivate a personal brand that differentiates them as a leaders, employees, or job candidates. How can you strengthen your own personal brand? We have a few tips, but first, let’s start with an example.
Good branding focuses not just on what something is, but what it does. Not just the what, but the why and the how. American automobile company Jeep has strong branding. Their sans-serif logo is no-nonsense, yet modern. Their ads are aspirational, connecting their product with where it can take you. In their ads, shining SUVs easily traverse rugged terrain, all set against a stunning landscape. The majority of Jeep drivers may drive their SUVs through suburban streets to work and the grocery store, but it’s nice to know they could tow a log up a hill—and they are certainly the kind of people who might get outside for just such an adventure.
Distill your message. Before you can communicate your brand, you have to identify it. What defines you as a professional? What is your competitive advantage? (To get you started, check out our post on the elements of an executive bio.) Jeep’s essential message is that their cars, like their customers, are capable and adventurous.
Be consistent. Audit your LinkedIn, résumé, and social channels. Do they all reflect your central message? If your LinkedIn presents you as an enrollment-savvy Dean, but your résumé doesn’t tout any benchmark improvements in student acquisition, you have a problem.
Show, don’t tell. Remember those Jeep ads? They have almost no words. They know that an SUV powering up a mountain speaks for itself; likewise, through showing successful outcomes on projects, you demonstrate the fundamentals of your personal brand.