Pay attention, I’m about to create a new phrase that will surely take the world by storm.
Are you ready?
The branding is the new black.
Sure, it’s not exactly revolutionary. But that doesn’t make it any less accurate.
In the chapter “You, the Brand” of her book I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This, Kate White opens with an anecdote about how she ran into a former colleague who was once a model and inquired if they were still modeling.
“I’m really more of a brand now,” the model told her.
I was initially pretty skeptical about the concept of “people brands,” but as I mulled over it, I realized that this is an accurate description of our reality. Nowadays, if you want to make an impression on customers or employers, it’s essential to stand out from the crowd and define what sets you apart. Here are three steps that can help with just that!
1. Define Your Unique Identity
Developing your personal brand identity can be intimidating due to the complexity of elements that make up who you are. However, Kate suggests discovering what appeals to you and resonates with your lifestyle. Assess which brands have managed to capture your attention and why? Taking a deep dive into these factors will provide ample insight into how best to convey an authentic representation of yourself as a powerful individual brand.
If you’re looking for a fun and easy exercise to identify yourself as a brand, give the following activity a go! Take out your pen and paper, and draw a circle in its center with your name inside it. That’s You – The Brand. Now brainstorm all the words that accurately describe who you are – what kind of skills do you have? Are there any character traits that particularly stand out about you? What values do they reflect? Plot these descriptors around the circumference of your ‘brand map’ so everything is represented accordingly; whether it be expert knowledge, fashion sense or sociability, etc., show them off proudly on this visual representation of YOU!
Without me even being aware, my subliminal may have been branding me with the two colors I most identify myself with; teal and orange. It was such a remarkable occurrence that when glancing around my room I noticed these two hues had an underlying theme present long before it became synonymous with my brand!
Last year, Glamour magazine had the opportunity to feature Janelle Monáe and inquire about her iconic style. The musical artist is best known for her timeless combination of black & white paired with classic red lipstick—a look that continues to inspire us all!
“When you walk into a room, it sets you apart,” she tells the mag.
Not only is it basic and subtle, but her photographs demonstrate that she has full control of the look.
2. Refine Your Options!
Kate emphasizes that you should identify and remain devoted to your focus. When initiating, it may be tempting to explore a variety of activities in which you have an interest; however, if attempting too many things at once, then you won’t have any areas where your individual strengths are prominent. Instead, hone in on certain key abilities so that they become integral components of what makes up your brand—this is the best way to success!
Examine your brand map and contemplate which of the defining terms you wrote down stand out to you. Maybe it’s what line of work you are in, adjectives that reflect who you are, or causes close to your heart. Question people close to you for their perspective on words they would use to define yourself; because oftentimes those closest can accurately identify qualities about us more than we’re able to ourselves!
Achieving a successful personal brand involves commitment and consistency. Every decision you make should be in line with your values, mission, and goals. Whenever faced with an option or opportunity, ask yourself: “Does this align with my brand?” Then remain loyal to what defines you while knowing when to pass on activities that don’t fit the image of who you are as a businessperson.
When crafting your signature look, don’t forget about the finer details. From the clothing, you choose to wear and accessories that add a splash of personality to even the stationery you use – create an amazing style that is uniquely yours! As Kate suggests, developing an iconic look will contribute significantly when it comes to credibility. Make sure people remember who you are just by looking at your appearance.
Above all else, comfort is key in your outfit. Julie Kelly, the blogger at Her Career Advice and career coach, dedicates an article to this very topic. According to her post, she opts for a sophisticated skirt or dress because it’s what makes her feel the most comfortable and confident. This signature look of hers helps project an aura of professionalism without sacrificing her level of comfortability – something that matters immensely when attending important meetings or events!
“When you have a look that empowers you, run with it. As your career evolves and you mature, both on a professional and personal level, your look will change. It makes sense that it would,” Julie writes. And it doesn’t need to be complicated; maybe a style of jewelry you like to wear, or a certain color of lipstick. “The most important thing is to be true to yourself and create a look that makes you feel confident.”
3. Unleash Your Splendor
To get a feel for your brand, you must be passionate about it. So goes all-in! I noticed that my living space had an unintentional orange and teal theme when combined with my jewelry and even bath towels – it was uniquely mine. Similarly, I am extremely organized in the areas of work (desk), wardrobe, and schedule; as this is often how people perceive me due to “screaming” organization from my brand.
To ensure that you can be proud of your brand, Kate suggests reinforcing it at every chance. Take on any task or endeavor to boost the power and distinctiveness of your specialty area, as well as learn all you can in off-work hours. Perhaps engaging in a panel discussion, blogging regularly, offering classes, or attending events allowing for promotion is an option? If so – do it! Your brand will benefit greatly from such efforts.
Among my favorite personal brands is Betty White; she’s sweet (Golden Girls), sassy (Off Their Rockers), and passionate about a cause (animal rights). Her case proves the concept Julie wrote in her blog about your appearance adapting to age. Rather than resisting her changing looks, Betty has chosen to include them as part of her brand – an ingenious decision. She demonstrates that aging need not be viewed negatively, but can instead become a powerful tool for building one’s own style and identity!
The main point here is to remain authentic and true to yourself. Don’t attempt to become something you aren’t, as this will inevitably backfire. On the other hand; if your brand evolves over time, don’t be afraid of it. It should always represent who you are – so embrace any changes with open arms!
What defines your identity? Let us know in the comments below!