When I think of people who have a “brand,” my mind usually goes to celebrities. Their whole personalities are sometimes a persona, a brand they use for fans, agents, and casting directors. The term “brand” also refers to literal brands of consumer goods, like cereals or smartphones—things that need to be advertised and marketed. But people - normal, everyday people - don’t need to be advertised, right? I disagree and would add that, if you have an active social media presence, you are already building or maintaining a personal brand. Why is having a personal brand important, how can it help you in the workforce, and do you even need one?
Why should I work on a personal brand?
When you’re looking for a new career or hope to move to a different company, you revise and update your resume. You notify your references so they aren’t surprised by an email or a call asking for more information about you. These days, you’re probably also perusing your Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn profiles to ensure there’s nothing a potential employer could find worrisome or inappropriate. By going through these steps, you’re already working on piecing together a “brand” a particular company will find compelling. When you apply to a job, write a cover letter, or update your resume you’re thinking of how to best sell your skills to someone else. If you know that you want to move up in your company and start working in a new industry, you should be working on your personal brand. Doing these tasks before you starting submitting resumes can save you time; it can also make it easier to say “who you are” in relation to your work.
How can it help you at work?
Besides rarely having to worry about slipping up on social media and posting something that could get you fired, having an established brand can do two things: set expectations for yourself and for others regarding your work. Your brand will represent the value you can bring to a company and to other people. If you commit to certain standards and goals and consistently meet them, you’re laying down a framework to let coworkers and supervisors know what you can bring to the table. Working on a personal brand also gives you a better understanding of what you can work on to improve in areas you might be weak in.
Do you need a brand?
Yes. Obviously, there are exceptions to everything. But, overall, having a brand can only help you move ahead at work, improve your skills, and help you solidify your career goals. It can also add to your experience. When you’re working on your personal brand, you’re picking up new skills, learning how to be a role model, and defining who you are in your industry. It can also be a fun exercise in seeing what works and what doesn’t work when you’re reaching out to potential employers and clients.
Though social media plays a huge role in branding these days, it’s more than cleaning up those pictures you don’t remember taking from college and avoiding negative language in your status updates. Defining your personal brand is about taking a look at what you’ve accomplished so far in your career and deciding what you’re hoping to achieve in the future. We all are working to market ourselves when we’re applying to open positions and we’re hoping to “sell” our skills to an interviewer. Keeping personal brand in mind when you’re doing it makes it just a little bit less stressful when you’re finally interviewing at a company you’ve wanted to work with for years!