You have probably heard it before, whether you were talking about a big company, a small company, entrepreneurs or cattle (the last one may be true, but does not apply here): branding is key. But what is branding exactly and why is it important?
According to the Business Dictionary, branding is:
The process involved in creating a unique name and image for a product in the consumers’ mind, mainly through advertising campaigns with a consistent theme. It aims to establish a significant and differentiated presence in the market that attracts and retains loyal customers.
So, if you think about yourself as the “product” in this situation, you can see how branding can be important for any person to have. Whether you are a young professional just starting out, you are already established in your career or want to find a new career, branding is the key to standing out amongst competition.
I personally believe that branding is the essential base in which you need to start your job search or career on. Your brand must be consistent and eye catching, but also reflect who you are as a person. Let’s take it step by step, and discover how you can brand yourself.
Check out my original brand:
01/Reflect on your field, personality and goals.
Everyone’s brand should be different. Just like you have your own unique fingerprints, you should have your own unique brand. That isn’t to say that you cannot use the colour orange just because Home Depot’s colours are orange, but you shouldn’t use the same font, colour and design as them. In order to start developing a brand, you need to reflect on who your brand will be seen by (future employers, friends, family) and what the purpose of your brand is (to obtain a job, clients or attention). From there, you should make a list of traits you possess, to determine what your brand should say.
02/Pick a colour scheme and font.
Based on the list you made in the previous step regarding your interests, purpose and personality, you can now pick a colour scheme and font that match those qualities. For example, when I first created my brand in college, I chose a burgundy/black/white colour scheme because it was my favourite colour at the time, it looked professional and it reminded me of a calm library, which was perfect for my book-obsessed, mom-like self. I then chose solid fonts, both serif and sans serif so they were easy to read online or in print and showed my eye for detail.
No matter what colours and fonts you pick, you must follow the golden rule of being consistent. Write down your font name, size and styles as well as the CMYK or RGB code of your colours somewhere safe so you can always refer back to it. A lot of times you will be switching from application to application and trying to recreate your brand, so you need to know the exact font and colour you used, rather than guessing or choosing the closest match. If you play the guessing game, there will always be seemingly insignificant mismatches that can look sloppy in the long run.
That last step may have scared you into thinking the font and colours you pick on day one need to be the same for the rest of your life, but don’t worry. That is not the case. For example, you know how I said I chose the colour burgundy and my fonts in college? Well just yesterday, I completely rebranded myself. I have now chosen a teal blue colour, kept the same fonts but used a lighter style of that font rather than the bold. I chose to rebrand because I decided that the previous brand did not accurately represent myself anymore after having so many changes in my professional life in the past couple of months. Mind you, it took a full five hours and a bit of money to update my portfolio, business cards, resume, cover letter, website and blog with this new colour scheme, but it is do-able. Nothing is permanent if you don’t want it to be.
Not only should you be confident in yourself every day, but you should also be confident about your brand. If you can’t willingly slap down your business card for someone or direct them to your website or blog without worrying about what they will think, you need to change your brand. Something in your brand is obviously not representing you accurately. For example, when I first developed my business cards, I personally chose to make my “title” (public relations student/public relations & communications) lowercase. My family and friends strongly disagreed with my decision and thought it should be capitalized properly, but I stood my ground because I made the decision knowingly for emphasis and I left it as is.
And new as of yesterday, here is my brand spanking new brand:
Branding can be daunting, especially when you may not know who your target audience of this branding is yet because you are not yet finished school, you haven’t begun job searching or you haven’t had the guts to leave your job to start a new one yet. Your target audience only plays a small part in your branding, though. Sure, you need to make sure the general public will receive your brand positively, but when it is your personal brand you need to make sure it represents yourself positively first.
Need branding tips, advice or consultation? Let me know, I’d love to help!
Until next time,