A brand is anything that cultivates a relationship. When we hear the word ‘brand’, we immediately think of logos, commercials and jingles – but a brand can also be a smell, a taste, a reputation, or even the employees that you deal with then you go somewhere. Brands are everywhere. It’s easy to recognize the branding of multinational corporations, or even organizations with a national reach. In fact, it’s even easy, to some extent, to recognize awesome local brands. We build relationships with brands and what they represent, without even really realizing that we’re doing it.
Think about it. You have a relationship with brands, big and small. Your relationship with your favourite coffee shop might have started with their cute logo design and awesome instagram posts, and extended to the feeling you get when you walked in, and when you make the decision to go back again and again, you’re building that brand relationship – making it even stronger. We interact with brands, build relationships with them, without even realizing that we’re doing it – and the same can (in most cases) be said for how we build our own personal brand.
Within the last three years, the term ‘personal branding’ started cropping up more frequently. Of course, we’re accustomed to the idea of ‘branding’, but most of our experience with it is in the capacity of business. Personal branding isn’t as easy to identify, but it makes a huge difference in the lives of young professionals.
So what is a personal brand? Why is it important? And most notably, how are you going to build one that works to your advantage instead of your detriment?
No matter what your goal, a personal brand is integral to achieving it. Whether you’re looking for a better job, trying to find more clients for your business, or just building a network, your personal brand (and the guidelines you create to go with it) will help you grow as a professional while standing out from the crowd. Ultimately, building a personal brand is just a way to lay the foundation for success, no matter how you define it.
The first step in building your personal brand is to figure out who you are.
Before you close the tab, think about it: we form relationships with brands without even realizing it. You need to know how your brand is already being perceived in order to decide what you need to do to develop it. Figuring out “who you are” is less about writing out your hopes and dreams, and more about deciding exactly how you want people to feel about your brand (and you!)
Here are four tips to get you started:
1. Write down your values.
These are the things that drive your life – they’re the things you think about before you make a decision. There’s no limit to the number of values you put on your list. Think about the places and things that make you happy, and go from there.
2. Write down your passions.
Outline your professional and personal passions, and do things that give you the opportunities to do, learn about or experience those things. Whether it’s smartphones, design, travel or cooking, your passions will help guide you through your life.
3. Figure yourself out
The next thing you should do is look at your traits, and think about how they can benefit (and harm!) you. My suggestion is to go through a Myers-Briggs assessment (I like this one) and honestly consider your strengths, your traits, and your weaknesses.
4. Talk to your friends and family
Ask for honest, real opinions – because even though your opinion of yourself is important, building your personal brand is about how other people perceive you as well.
The main thing to keep in mind while you’re working on your personal brand is to be yourself. Use your strengths to build more genuine relationships, and you’ll be well on your way. These tips are just the beginning, and building your brand is a lifelong project. Once you start, your next steps will come naturally. And as always, if you need more guidance, come out to our Professional Development Sessions through HIVE.
Andrea is a Mohawk Alumna, Theatre-lover, and Hamilton Cheerleader. She works for RevUp Group as an Account Manager, helping small businesses build marketing engines to help them get ahead. She’s passionate about supporting small business and entrepreneurs, and sits on the HIVE 2017 Executive as Secretary.