Published on October 10, 2018, at 10:05 a.m.
by Anna Jones.
Many believe the term personal brand was coined by Tom Peters in 1997, in an article he wrote for Fast Company stating, “To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.”
Since this article, personal branding has become a necessity for professionals in the communications field. Students, employers and CEOs alike have taken on the challenge of creating their respective brands.
According to Shelly Saboorian, account director of 22squared, “Your brand is the thing that differentiates you; it’s what sets you apart.”
Saboorian feels that each individual’s brand should reflect who they are as a person as well as a professional. Although this may seem like a simple concept, many young professionals struggle with discovering and defining their personal brands.
Dr. Karen Freberg, an associate professor at the University of Louisville, believes a personal brand has three components: personality, consistency and expertise. Personality is shown by the tone of one’s voice and who one is as an individual. Consistency is solidified by one’s actions. Every decision that an individual makes reflects their personal brand. Expertise is what someone has to offer and is made up of one’s passions, stories and talents. It is what sets the individual apart from others in similar fields.
So how does one find one’s personal brand? Here are some steps everyone can take while embarking on this journey.
1. Do your research.
Becoming self-aware is one of the most important aspects of a personal brand.
According to Saboorian, an effective way to become more self-aware is to take personality tests, such as the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), the 5 Love Languages Test and Left-Brain/Right-Brain tests.
Along with personality tests, Freberg suggests becoming more self-aware by conducting self-audits and by asking mentors for guidance on identifying one’s strengths and weaknesses.
“By getting those insights, you get a comprehensive view of saying ‘OK, this is my brand, and here is how I can package it up,’” Freberg said.
Once young professionals discover their strengths, it is important to build upon them until they become experts in those areas.
2. Determine the best channels to present the information you have found.
After conducting self-awareness research, the next step is to find the best way to present the information found.
“The best advocate for your personal brand is yourself,” Freberg said. “You have to figure out what channels and what type of content will best communicate that and showcase that.”
Personal brands can be represented through channels such as social media, writing, videography, graphic design and personal websites.
However, there is one important tip to always remember when determining what channels to showcase a personal brand: “You should be able to defend anything that someone finds,” Saboorian said.
3. Be sustainable.
A personal brand must be sustainable. In order to be sustainable, a brand must be authentic. A successful personal brand is something that can be maintained and built upon every single day.
“If you do a little bit every day for your personal brand, it builds up,” Freberg said. “The opportunities you are able to get are tremendous.”
Overall, both Saboorian and Freberg believe that when it comes to a personal brand, actions speak louder than words.
“Don’t tell me you have a personal brand; show me how you’re making an impact in your industry,” Freberg said.
Setting up informational interviews, going to professional events and networking with others are all ways to act upon your personal brand.
“Think about how you can show your worth without getting paid,” Saboorian said. “Just do something; anything small is going to get you a long way.”
Ultimately, the main thing to remember is that personal brands are constantly evolving.
“Personal branding is multifaceted, it’s multidimensional, [and] there’s a lot that goes into personal branding,” Freberg said. “People are very complex, so our personal brand has to reflect that.”