The topic this week is personal branding. Personal branding is about who you are, the values you uphold, and the way you communicate those values. Like a company’s brand helps demonstrate its value to consumers and stand out from the competition, a personal brand does the same, helping to share an identity and value to employers or clients.
As a recent graduate and writer, this is as much for me as I will be for you. I’m trying to build a brand as an academic, a side hustler, and as a writer here on Medium. So, I spent the morning, looking for advice and this is what I found:
Who Are You?
For a brand that accurately reflects your personal and/or professional identity, you need to be self-aware. To help, build a list of your strengths and motivations. If you’re struggling for an answer, ask friends, family, and co-workers. Don’t worry about limiting yourself. A personal brand will change as your career matures. It seems that the best strategy is to choose a single direction to focus on and let it evolve.
Accepting this advice and looking at my branding, I realize that I have been fostering three brands. This might be too many, but for now, they’re all very separate for me:
- First, there is the academic fresh from earning my doctorate in educational technology. I spent seven years researching technology adoption and public libraries. This brand is searching for employment in higher education and is writing an article for publication in an academic journal.
- Second, there is the side hustler who teaches people how to use their technology, takes on odd jobs, and writes here on Medium. This brand is about promoting digital literacy and making money to support my family.
- Third, I am a mental health advocate who is living with bipolar disorder. This brand bled over into my writing career, but I’m worried that it will find its way into my other brands. It can be challenging to get a job if a potential employer looks at your disorder and not your capabilities.
The best personal brands are very specific and consistent. The more focused your brand is, the easier it is for people to remember you. So when it comes time to hire a new employee or find a writer, your focused brand will be what they remember.
As I explained above, I am working with three brands. To me, this means I need to direct each brand very specifically. I believe that people are multifaceted and that someone, like me, with bipolar disorder and ADHD, needs to be busy. For me, this looks like I’ll be maintaining my three brands. It fulfills the needs for me to be active, to earn money, and to process my mental illness. This may not work for someone else. You might need a singular niche carved out by your abilities.
Growth From Failure
Making mistakes is essential to succeeding. I struggle with this one. Sometimes I freeze on making decisions that I know will have a higher rate of failure. I’m working on this because I want someone to look back on me and say, I was remarkable, and remarkable people make mistakes. Remember that the pain of failure is only temporary. Life carries on around you. You decide to learn and grow from your mistakes.
Remember, you are your brand. Always keep in mind the impression you leave with others. Your reputation is your brand.
4 Books I Plan to Read
- Crushing It!: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence-and How You Can, Too (Kindle Edition) by Gary Vaynerchuk
- One Million Followers: How I Built a Massive Social Following in 30 Days by Brendan Kane
- Platform: The Art and Science of Personal Branding (Kindle Edition)
by Cynthia Johnson
- Influencer: Building Your Personal Brand in the Age of Social Media by Brittany Hennessy
In the next article, I’ll put some of this advice to work and see how it works with Twitter.