A Beginner's Guide to Building a Personal Brand
Despite what Joan Jett says, your reputation really does matter. Whether you’re just starting college, or you’re about to head into the working world, building and maintaining your own personal brand is vital for your success – and if you have no idea what I’m talking about, or need a little help to get there, you’ve come to the right place.
First of all, what is a personal brand?
A personal brand is a lot like a company or corporate brand. In the business world, a brand is the outward appearance of a company, including its logos and design themes, its mission statement, and its purpose. For you as an individual, your brand will include your outward appearance as well, physically and in how you speak and act, as well as your goals and your life’s purpose.
Essentially, your personal brand is everything that others notice about you that distinguishes you from everyone else. It’s your personality, your reputation, and everything in between. The most important part of your personal brand, though, is that instead of being what you think about yourself, it’s strictly what others think of you – which, whether we like it or not, has a lot of impact on your future career and opportunities.
How do you decide what your personal brand is?
The first question to ask yourself when working on your reputation is: how do you want others to perceive you? Do you want to be seen as positive? Trustworthy? Hard-working? Look into what already sticks out about your personality for inspiration, perhaps by asking your close friends what the first quality they think about when they think of you is. Additionally, consider your most deep-rooted values, and try to choose a single word that encompasses what you want to be. Perhaps that word is “compassionate” or “go-getter” – either way, this word will be the jumping-off point for the rest of your personal brand.
Once you know what your single defining word is, it’s time to figure out how you can live according to that mantra. How would a positive person address an adverse situation? What would a trustworthy individual do with juicy gossip? To establish your personal brand, you must be willing to live by the answers to these questions. If you can’t, maybe your personal brand is a little different than you originally thought.
Begin thinking about the answers to these questions as you live out your daily life to start to establish your personal brand the way you want it to appear.
How can you maintain your personal brand?
So, you know what you want to be, and you’ve taken steps to define how you want to be perceived – but how can you make sure you leave a lasting, positive impression?
This is most easily accomplished by expanding your personal brand (and your single-word life motto) to all aspects of your life. Maintain positivity on social media as well as in-person, and be trustworthy not only to your friends with their secrets, but with your professors and the responsibilities they give you. If you work to keep up your reputation in all facets of your life, people will soon start to think of you when they think of your mantra word – and that’s the overall goal.
Having a personal brand is beneficial not just for your professional life, but for your personal, social life as well. With a little effort, you can be the best you possible – and everyone else will see you that way, too!