It’s mid-afternoon and Karl the Fog is nowhere to be found. The sun beats mercilessly upon me and a drop of sweat slides down my temple like molasses. I try to lick my lips, but my tongue is sandpaper.
I could really use something to drink. But not just any beverage. I want a red-labeled, polar bear loving, ice-cold Coke.
Even if we don’t consider ourselves to be materialistic, we are influenced by brands. Whether you’re buying Balenciaga bags or stopping by your neighborhood’s Salvation Army, you’re making your decisions based on what that company advertises and is known for. Balenciaga is known for being a high-end designer brand with signature buckles just as the Salvation Army store is known for its affordability, second-hand products, and philanthropy.
Through a product’s brand we can see what it is, what it can do for us, what it cares about, and how it makes us feel.
I am NOT saying that you should invent a brand for yourself. You already have a brand. It’s you. What I’m saying is that you should learn how to package this brand so that potential employers can see it easily.
In an article on UnderGrad Success, “Personal Branding Without Purpose: A Job Seeker Failure Story,” YouTern asserts that personal branding is about selling what you can do for the company, not selling you. This may sound like it contradicts what I have been talking about, but it actually goes hand-in-hand with what I am saying.
To be honest, when you go into an interview you are selling yourself. Part of that is what you can do for the company, but there is more to it than that. Not only must you sell what you can do for this employer, but how you are going to do it. There have probably been a lot of candidates coming to interview and most likely they were all capable of completing the tasks required of the job. Why would you be hired over them? The employer is going to hire you because of how you’ll complete the task, how you interact with the team, and what else you can bring to the company.
So yes, personal branding has a lot to do with what you can do for a company (which is why you must market to those businesses) but it’s also all about you as a whole.
So how should you go about discovering your personal brand?
1. Get to Know Yourself a Little Better
Take some time to write down strong attributes of your personality. If you haven’t already, head over to our blog post about knowing your strengths and try the methods we recommend.
2. Define Your Skills
What is it that you do? Do you speak fluently in Java, Ruby, and Python? Can you use Photoshop to turn a picture of dog into a supermodel?
Once again, write this all down.
3. Find the Feeling
Like every brand, customers (or in this case employers) need to get a certain feeling every time they encounter something that is a part of your personal brand. It’s kind of hard to explain this since it’s not something that is tangible, but creating this feeling should not be very difficult since it is a direct reflection of your personality. Are you whimsical? Serious and pensive? Humorous?
Levo League recommends a great activity in their post “3 Steps to Defining Your Personal Brand,” which asks readers to draw a circle representing “You” and then think of every term that could be used to describe you (this includes colors and patterns).
Once you’ve figured out the feeling your personal brand should inspire, write it down.
Okay, now look at everything you have written down. Let your eyes roam the page. Which words and descriptions pop out from each of the categories?
Write these down on a separate piece of paper.
Great. That should outline your personal brand. What you want to do now is make sure that each of your social media profiles, networking conversations, and applications reflect it.
Okay, okay, easier said than done. To help simplify things, I suggest that you create a personal brand mantra.
4. Create a Brand Mantra
In The Daily Muse’s post “The First Step to Building Your Personal Brand,” they refer to your mantra as “the heart and soul of your brand.” They also are careful to point out that brand mantra is not the same as a mission statement. Referencing Guy Kawasaki’s blog post “Mantras vs. Missions,” they explain the difference between the two.
Instead of a lengthy statement compiled by a group of people trying to create a written purpose for a company, Guy Kawasaki explains that “a mantra is three or four words long. Tops. Its purpose is to help employees truly understand why the organization exists.”
Here are some examples he gives:
Federal Express: “Peace of mind”
Nike: “Authentic athletic performance”
Target: “Democratize design”
Mary Kay “Enriching women’s lives”
Looking at every aspect of your brand, you can ask yourself, “Does this fit with my mantra?” If it does, great! If not, try to find out why and figure out a way to make it fit.
We want you to have a physical representation of your brand to support your networking and job search. Win a $50 gift card to spend on personalized business cards at Moo. Leave a comment either here or on our Facebook page with your personal brand mantra. Bonus points if you can give us an example of a time when you used your mantra networking, in a job interview, or any other time when you found it useful. Contest runs from today (Tuesday, September 17th) until Tuesday, October 1st.