When millennials hear the word “branding,” the ﬁrst thing that typically comes to mind is a mega-brand, like Target or Nike. The word may seem like a distant marketing strategy that has no place in your everyday life, but in today’s career and job market, it has immense relevance.
You might be thinking, “I’m not marketing a product or running a storefront, so why in the world do I need to be bothered with branding?” However, in the job market, you are indeed marketing a product: yourself.
The goal of personal branding is to highlight your attributes and differentiate yourself in order too reach a career objective. You want to make your value visible via your brand. Whether you’re a student or professional, positioning yourself in a way that makes you stand out from your peers is vital to advancing your career. Here are a few tips to get you started:
Deﬁne Your Objectives: Your personal brand should relate directly to your career or your career goals. Be speciﬁc about your aspirations. Ask yourself, “What do you want to be?” Do you want to get that awesome summer internship? Maybe you want to be the editor-in-chief of a magazine or head a design ﬁrm. Be very clear on what your goals are and then shape a personal brand that will help you reach that goal. For example, if you’re a pastry chef who’s end goal is own a French bakery, you want to shape your brand around the culinary art of pastry.
Determine Your Appeal: Consider how other people interact with you you and how you interact with others. What are some characteristics of your personality? Ask yourself how you want people to feel while working and interacting with you. Determine character traits that you’d like to be known for. Those traits could be as simple as “energized” or “fun.” Shape your brand around characteristics of yourself to ensure you leave an authentic self impression. Authenticity is key. In the words of Oscar Wilde: “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” After all, it’s a professional brand and the goal is to introduce the world to you.
Be Speciﬁc: Your brand is all about you, of course, but you need to clearly convey that to your audience. Make it known what industry you’re in and what some of your career goals are. Highlight some of the interests and skills you have. This will help you connect with your audience. You also want to be speciﬁc about what your brand’s function is. What service do you offer your audience? What makes you stand out from the crowd? We know Nike for sportswear & Krispy Kreme for doughnuts. Tell the world what they should associate your name with.
Keep Things Uniform: Many people have two or more objectives or career goals that have no relation to one another. The same is true for personal brands. We all have many different facets to who we are and sometimes we want to incorporate every, single one of those characteristics into our personal brand. Fight the urge to do this by having your brands objective be the uniform it wears. Like any uniform, your brand should represent and convey its characteristics and objectives consistently. Use your career goals as a guide to keep your brand within the perimeters of it’s goals.
Shelby Ivey Christie is a lifestyle and entertainment journalist and founder of Bombshells in Business, a nonprofit organization that seeks to empower undergraduate students in entrepreneurship via events, Web resources and networking. It also hosts internship and career prep workshops and fairs. A fab fashionista with a passion for style trends and shopping, her insights and works have been seen in W Magazine, Charlotte Style Magazine, QCityMetro, and Charlotte Business Journal.