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How To Build Your Own Brand: Strategies For Success

How To Build Your Own Brand: Strategies For Success

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What if people could evaluate your expertise based only on one visual symbol? What if people could understand your essence through a short Linkedin profile?

That is the task—to build a personal brand identity through design and content.

You may not feel like a brand. You’re an individual, not cereal or a car. To secure the position or client you desire, however, you need to do something to distinguish yourself. To break through, you need to make an indelible impression on your audience (potential employer or client). To do this, you need to build your own brand, which entails creating an original visual identity—logo, business card, resume, website, promotional materials, and so on —and verbal identity— bio, elevator speech, resume content, and social and networking media profile.

Start With Strategy

To build your own brand, start with a strategy—which is the core tactical underpinning, uniting all your planning for each visual and verbal expression of your personal brand. The strategy defines your brand personality and promise. Who are you? What value do you promise to deliver? You formulate a core strategic concept that differentiates and positions you against the competition in your field. That concept is based on an insight into your own expertise, or on a personal attribute or quality, such as originality, heritage, or wit. Ask yourself how you want an employer or client to see you in comparison to your competition.

Your Strategic Calling C.A.R.D.

Consider several factors when formulating your strategic calling C.A.R.D.:

Consistency: Create a coherent personal brand voice and tone in all verbal and visual communication across media platforms. (Don’t think of it as “matched luggage,” but there should be coherence.)

Authenticity: Assert a genuine attribute, quality, or posture.

Relevance: Base the branding on an insight into you and your target audience.

Differentiation: Create a unique visual  and verbal presence.

Form Follows Function & Story

American architect Louis Sullivan said, “Form ever follows function.” In branding, not only should form follow function but it should follow a story as well. To help determine your strategy, you need to clarify your story. The raw material is about you—who you are, what you’ve done, what your strengths are, where you hope to work, and more. No formal research necessary, though analysis is required.

Crafting Your Story

An advantageous place to start is by conceiving your elevator pitch, LinkedIn bio or Twitter profile, which requires determining a premise as well as shaping a distinguishing voice. Drawing upon the facts, you have to craft a central message. To determine your story’s premise, begin with these main tasks:

  • Conceive a core message by synthesizing experiences and expertise (academic studies, knowledge, proficiencies, accomplishments) into a premise.
  • Omit. What you edit out is as important as what you leave in.
  • Show—don’t tell. Use action to show. (If you’re funny, don’t say you’re funny—be funny.)
  • State it clearly and memorably.
  • Specificity helps explain which assets you will bring to the job. Using superlatives and making general statements isn’t useful. For example, writing “I am the greatest designer of my generation” isn’t as useful (or believable) as stating specifically what it is that makes you exceptional.
  • Consider the benefit. Is there a payoff to the employer in how you define yourself?

Make the speech or bio pithy. Eliminate extraneous material but retain your personal substance. Edit for repetitiveness. Write genuinely and specifically—your statement is about you, not suitable for anyone else. If your competition can insert his or her name into your statement, then it’s too broad or generic.

Build Your Own Brand Checklist

Use this Build Your Own Brand checklist to keep you on track. Here’s to your brilliant career!

My brand personality is: ____________________________

This is strategic because: ____________________________

My communication goals are: ____________________________

(Ask: Are these all the things I want people to think about me or not?)

My brand voice is: ____________________________ [relaxed]; [formal]; [whimsical]; [free spirited]; [serious]; [bold]; [authentic]

The design of visual identity says this about me: ________________________

My brand is: ____________________________

Unique [  ]

Recognizable [  ]

Memorable [  ]

Definitely me [  ]

This post was originally published on an earlier date.

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Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Robin Landa

Robin Landa, Distinguished Professor at Kean University, tells brand stories, designs, and has written 18 books about branding, design, and advertising. She is the author of Build Your Own Brand: Strategies, Prompts and Exercises for Marketing Yourself (HOW Books, 2013). E-mail her at [email protected]