How to Brand Yourself in 4 Steps
By: Lydia Davies on April 01, 2016
Graduation is quickly approaching for many, including myself. Whether you are graduating college or maybe you are just in the interest of a summer internship, it is important to think of yourself as a brand. I am Lydia Davies, but what does that mean? How do I make myself stand out among the other thousand and two applicants applying for a job?
With a great personal brand, I believe that you will be able to set yourself apart from others, making yourself pop, with a positive branding image that can last a lifetime.
Personally, I believe that branding yourself can be done in four simple steps.
Step 1: Define your overall goals.
It is extremely important to be very specific while defining your overall objectives and aspirations. Do you want to be CEO? Is it to be known as the best Public Relations Director in a particular industry? To open your own PR and marketing firm?
What are your strengths and passions? What makes you stand out amongst the others? You have to decide, stick to your goals, and brand yourself accordingly.
You know that corny question that so many people ask, especially to all of us graduating college, “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?” Well this is the time to truly think about that question and think where you actually want to be in 10 years.
If you want to be PR and marketing executive then you must brand yourself accordingly. If you want to own your own PR and marketing firm then it is important to brand yourself toward this goal. Now, I am not saying brand yourself for a particular job that you want, but I am saying it is important to focus on your career path, plan accordingly, and brand accordingly, because branding yourself for fashion PR and for a CEO position are two completely different aspects and brands to make for yourself.
Step 2: Determine your attributes.
You must remember that you are the brand, think of it as if you are actually the product. How do you want people, such as future employers, to see you? What adjectives best describe you as a brand? If you are searching for a job in PR what market do you want to be known in? These are all very important to ask yourself and to determine when branding yourself.
When I was trying to describe myself, who I was and where I wanted to end up, I made a list. This list included every positive thing I thought about myself, this is the perfect time to be conceited. After I formed this list, I asked a close friend what they think of me, writing down those also. I then asked a professor, whom I had take their class for three years, what they thought of me, writing down their list as well. Lastly, I asked my current employer, what they thought of me and I wrote down their list. I then combined every list, the words that doubled I made sure that I would include those in my personal branding.
Step 3: Pay attention to detail.
It is important to understand that once you brand yourself that you need to be consistent throughout every minor detail when presenting yourself to employers. I know this may sound over the top, but trust me, employers will love it. From the way you dress, how you interact with your coworkers, the emails you write, the way your resume, portfolio, and personal website are set up, must all match your personal brand.
This step, in my opinion, is one of the most important. You do not want your brand to send mixed messages, if you are interesting in working in PR in the future, then you know how important it is to speak with ONE voice. This is a major time when speaking with one voice comes in handy in your personal branding. If your resume does not match your portfolio, a lot of employers in this industry may automatically write you off. If your resume and portfolio describe you as a chipper, over the top, and extremely enthusiastic person and, let’s just face it, you are not that chipper, over the top, and you are rarely enthusiastic about your work life, then you have just confused your brand.
Furthermore, if you mix up your messages with your personal branding, you are hurting yourself and your career.
During my time at the University of West Florida I took several advertising courses. In one of them we learned how to develop a 3D resume, which honestly I thought it was going to be the world’s hardest project (good news, it wasn’t.) My 3D resume included me trying to make a bottle of wine describe me. I create a personal logo, a slogan, and portrayed the major aspects that I would want an employer to know about me in a teeny tiny space on the wine label. This project taught me so much about developing the perfect logo and slogan that would be best suited for me, that best describes me (the brand) to a future employer. I was taught how to pay attention to the minor details because the minor details can change the whole brand. If you think you may want to tackle the task of creating a 3D resume then remember this, make sure the 3D resume matches your portfolio, your resume, your personal website, and your business cards. Do not try to do something that you cannot tackle skill wise. If you do not know how to work Adobe Indesign to the ability to create a 3D resume, then do not hire someone to do it because your employer will assume that you were the one who put the time, effort, and skills into the 3D resume. Do not create a 3D resume that doesn’t describe you. I picked wine, because I love a glass of wine after a long day. Maybe you hate wine, if you do, then do not try to use it.
Remember always pay attention to the detail and stay consistent throughout your brand.
Step 4: Keep up to date.
Always make sure your resume is updated with your current and past work experiences. Even if you are not currently looking for a job, but you are currently forming your personal brand, this step is important.
Do you have a personal website? If not, then I strongly suggest that you do. I am currently in the process of making my own. On it I intend to have areas with my work samples, my resume, my portfolio, a link to my personal blog, and a contact page. As you grow in this industry then this personal website will also grow. Make this page ALL ABOUT YOU, I know that may sound, or even be weird for you to do, since as a PR professional you are trained to make it about the clients. However, not this time. This platform is completely yours. This is where you get to describe yourself, use visuals.
Are you a blogger in your spare time? Or maybe you are blogging full-time and want to show employers that this blog is apart of you and who you are. If so then I beg you, please keep it up to date. If that means blogging three times a week or three times a month, whichever fits best for you, just make sure that it is current. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT show a (Possible) future employer a blog you started when you were 12-years-old, where you openly wrote about My Little Pony and sparkle lipstick, that you haven’t blogged on in four years. If your blog is not current, well written, nor professional, then I suggest it is best not to show or mention it to employers.
Continuously keep up to date with your social network. This does not mean just you friend on Facebook or who you re-tweeted on Twitter. I know, shocker. However, there is this thing that our parents used before we were even born, called face-to-face interactions. Use them. Meet people. Believe me, I am all for shooting a quick email asking someone about a job, however, in today’s society an employer would much rather meet you face-to-face than seeing you emailed them 40 times today. Since I currently reside in Florida, many cities offer a local Florida Public Relations Association (FPRA), which is a great place for networking. It is a meeting that occurs once a month where you get to sit down with PR and a few marketing professionals, have lunch, socialize, and listen to some fantastic speakers. You learn who may be hiring whether it is full-time, part-time, or internship positions. I strongly suggest joining your local chapter if you currently live in Florida, and hey it is only $30-ish for student members, so join quickly before you become alumni. As for everyone who does not live in Florida, I would recommend looking up to see if your state does something similar. Believe me, it is a great place to meet people and have those face-to-face interactions.
Now you are ready to take on the world with your own personal brand, lucky you. I do truly believe if you follow these four simple steps then you will be well on your way to developing a fantastic personal brand that will make you stand out against all the other college graduates this year. Just keep calm, stay strong, and breathe you will be hired if you have a strong personal brand image. You’ve got this. And lastly, CONGRATULATIONS CLASS OF 2016! Hello real world. Yay!