Being good at branding yourself can be important for your career trajectory. Your position in the job market is similar to that of a product, which depends on the audience’s awareness and knowledge of its value. To quickly communicate your capabilities to prospective employers, it can be helpful to establish and nurture a personal brand. In this article, we explain the purpose and importance of branding yourself, and how you can do so.
What is branding?
Branding refers to the ways in which you establish a perceived image of an organization, product, service or person. For both personal and product branding, the main objective is differentiating the product; in this case, yourself. You should also distinguish yourself from other competitors in the market. If the purpose of product branding is to increase the sales figures of that product, with personal branding, the target differs from person to person. Your goals, for example, might vary from getting a new job to making more money or becoming a leader in some capacity.
The overall process of personal branding includes defining your attributes and strengths as a brand, emphasizing your unique qualities when compared to similar brands on the market and finding ways of managing every aspect of your personal brand.
How to establish your personal brand
Your personal brand is defined by who you are as a professional and what makes you different from other people. Consider using these steps to successfully brand yourself:
- Determine your strengths
- Identify your passions
- Discover what makes you different
- Build a reputation
- Connect with your peers
- Determine your niche audience
Analyze your competition
1. Determine your strengths
When starting to define your brand, you will need to identify your strengths, skills and talents. Think about what you are naturally inclined to do well. For example, if you have an easy-going personality and enjoy engaging in conversations, you can determine that your strong point is communication, which is a valuable asset for an employee working in a customer-facing role.
2. Identify your passions
Find what makes you passionate, what drives you or what pushes you to improve. Passion can motivate you to persevere during challenges. It’s also inspirational, as people admire passionate people. Passion usually comes from personal preferences and can be used for professional gains. For example, if you are passionate about numbers and accuracy, you can use that to brand yourself as an excellent accountant.
Related: Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Motivation
3. Discover what makes you different
Determine what qualities you possess that your competitors don’t. Knowing what you can do better or more effectively and highlighting those abilities can get you one step further to building a successful personal brand.
This implies doing some research on potential competitors and objectively comparing their results to yours. For example, you may discover that you have a unique way of completing a typical work-related task from other professionals in your field.
Identify the online platforms where you will find people that are potentially interested in you, and then publicize your brand in every way you can, from a simple social media post to case studies regarding your business. Your purpose is to make it as easy as possible for people to learn about you and get in touch with you, but also to promptly respond to any message or query.
If, for example, you discover that a large number of fellow professionals and potential employers are subscribed to a certain social media group, you should actively promote your skills and services to that group.
5. Build a reputation
Once you have built the foundation of your brand by defining yourself, your objectives and your chosen platforms, you can start building an audience and a reputation. The purpose is to convince the people interested in your brand that your skills are valid and your claims are backed by strong expertise.
This includes being active in your professional community and establishing a reputation for being accurate and knowledgeable. For example, if your main area of expertise is economics, you can build an audience and a reputation by creating a blog, in which you express your economics-related ideas, and sharing it in relevant social media groups.
6. Connect with your peers
Search for as many relevant people and brands as possible and reach out to them concerning any kind of collaboration that would grant you access to their audience or that would help you associate with their reputation and credibility. It’s helpful to reach out to other notable people or brands in your industry, as you might have the chance to attract a new audience that is interested in your specialty.
This involves constantly looking for opportunities and persuading others to join you. If, for example, you discover people in your social media groups who have similar qualities but a larger brand than you do, you can reach out to them and propose different collaborations. You will need to make a strong case for why working with you will also benefit them.
7. Determine your niche audience
To be as efficient as possible in branding yourself, you must identify your target audience. Once you have discovered who your target audience is and what you can do for them, creating a branding strategy will prove easier.
Determining your target audience involves analyzing your exact area of expertise within a wider domain. For example, if you are a real estate professional who specializes in residential rentals, only focus on that audience, instead of covering other areas of real estate, such as residential sales or office rentals.
8. Analyze your competition
If you wish to build a successful brand out of your skills and qualities, you should also study the competition and identify what their success is based on. Regardless of your overall purpose or the nature of your activity, it is likely that someone else has tried to do the same in the past, and you might learn from their actions.
Analyzing your competition depends on your area of expertise, but in most cases, you can do it through online research. If, for example, you are a marketing professional in the automotive industry, you can analyze your competition by studying major marketing campaigns conducted by other car manufacturers.