What makes you, you? Defining your personal brand

Tips to identify and build your brand — and examples of others who have done it — so you can ace that next job interview or advance your career.

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Chances are you know someone like this: the girl on Instagram who gets a ton of likes on her photos of biking adventures, constantly gives advice to her friends on different exercise programs, and writes a blog devoted to quinoa. Whether she knows it or not, this girl, who may have been a fellow intern with you this summer, is doing a great job building her personal brand for her future career as a nutritionist. Which makes you wonder — how can you do the same?

What is a personal brand?

A personal brand is not any one thing: It’s the culmination of many things that make you you. It’s your job title, your LinkedIn profile, your elevator pitch, your Instagram feed, your résumé, even what you choose to wear to interviews and how you spend your free time. It’s the tools you’re using to represent yourself and the process by which you differentiate yourself to stand out from the crowd. A strong personal brand can help you find job opportunities, network better, and achieve recognition in your industry.

How do you identify your brand?

Your personal brand is your authentic self. By identifying your brand and developing messaging around it, you build self-confidence, establish your reputation and credibility, and shape your expertise — even if you’re just beginning your career. But before you even think about your personal brand, you have to define your core values:

  • What do you want to be known as?
  • What do you want to be known for?
  • What are your best accomplishments, your passions, and your goals?

By figuring out the answers to those questions, you can develop consistent messaging to leverage in different scenarios — like in a job interview, on your LinkedIn profile, or even making small talk at a neighborhood barbecue.

For instance, if you started a dorm-wide recycling program during your junior year of college, you could use this example, among others, to create a brand around your compassionate nature, concern for the environment, and ability to rally your peers. Not only is this experience great for shaping your résumé, but it also provides talking points for interviews.

How do you communicate your brand?

So now that you have your brand, how do you showcase it? Choose outlets that make the most sense for you and your chosen field. If you are interested in video, build a strong YouTube channel. A blog would be a good medium to display your expert writing skills. Then, promote your posts and videos on your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other accounts, and also include them on your résumé — being sure to keep your branding consistent across all accounts. Once you’ve built your brand, you’ll have all the material you need to ace that next job interview, career fair, or networking event.

Personal branding in action

It never hurts to take a cue from or find inspiration in others. Check out these videos about people who discovered their personal brand — as well as their career passion.

Personal branding and your career - Lazarus - 200x200Lazarus Lynch: Son of a Southern chef
Lazarus found a way to combine his background in cooking with his media savvy and heritage to build his own brand.

 

Personal branding and your career - Emma- 200x200Emma Mead: Photographer with an artistic eye
A former costume designer turned photographer, Emma has a keen eye for revealing artistic angles and beauty in her subjects.

 

Personal branding and your career - Ashley - 200x200Ashley LeMieux: Activism with accessories
An internship at an inner-city high school revealed Ashley’s passion for helping others, which she was able to couple with her love for jewelry.