When you think of a brand, what comes to mind?
Perhaps you think of Target, Coca-Cola, Disney or Forbes.
Not too long ago, that was what came to mind when I thought of a brand.
But I want to let you in on a little secret.
Few people know about it.
In fact, even fewer care to do anything about it even though this secret could really affect them (for better or worse) down the road.
Want to know the secret?
You are a brand.
Yes… when I say “you,” I mean you, as a person, are already a brand.
Whether you’re a 30-year-old soccer mom or a teenager who spends their days on Snapchat, you have a brand.
And how you utilize that brand can affect the opportunities opened to you, the type of job you’ll get, the way people will view and treat you, and even how much money you make.
Does that surprise you?
It did when I first realized this and I had one of my Liz Lemon moments.
This idea of “you are a brand,” isn’t something new that I just pulled out of the rabbit hole that is my brain. No, others have also called out this fact.
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Dan Scalco, a writer for INC. had the following to say in one of his articles about personal branding:
It’s not a question of if you have a personal brand–everyone does–it’s a question of whether you’re in control of it.
For me, my big light bulb moment happened when I read this quote by Jeff Bezos of Amazon:
Your brand is what others say about you when you’re not in the room.
As you can see from the way he phrased this, what he said really had less to do with the brand of a business and brought it down a very personal level.
Now, I know what you’re thinking.
“Ariel, I’m not a brand. Come on. This doesn’t apply to me.”
I hear you but think about it this way.
Let’s say that you’re looking to get a new job. Preferably, something that pays much better than what you’ve been stuck with.
You find your dream job, and you meet quite a few of the qualifications. So your spruce up your resume so that it’s on fleek and you send it in to apply.
The person responsible for hiring you gets your application and sees you may just be a great fit. But instead of calling you, they do the one thing you’ve probably never done.
They Google you…
With this, all of your social profiles show up and they start scrolling through what you’ve been posting or what they find connected to your name.
Soon enough, they find something you probably really wish they didn’t see. So instead of calling you for an interview, they close out of Google set your application to the side and move onto the next applicant.
So pause here.
Do people actually do this? Yup, they do.
In fact, according to one Huffington Post article, about 80% of employers do this.
In a world that has become more and more digital, that good old-fashioned resume has very little impact and tells employers only a fraction of what they want to know about you.
So while you could ignore what your online profiles are telling others and possible employers, if you want to open more opportunities and give yourself more chances for better experiences and jobs, then I suggest you don’t leave this subject of a personal brand alone.
How can you get a handle on your personal brand and groom it to look the way you want?
At the end of last year, I began to ponder over this question myself. Here’s what I’ve done to help build my personal brand, and you can too.
First, Google Yourself
Have you ever done this? Most people who aren’t in marketing never have.
But don’t push this part off. It’s really important to see what Google pulls up.
For me, my name fills up the first few pages of Google in a search because I’ve done a lot of writing, interviews, and marketing.
But trust me, having the same name as a Disney princess does NOT help. For a long time, a search of my name brought up links to articles about The Little Mermaid…
And even with the amount of content linked to my name, I already see areas I want to change things on my first page results.
When you Google yourself, you may find some surprising results… or no results at all.
Both situations are likely not ideal.
If you really want a new or different job or to branch into freelancing, then you need to take control of your Google results.
3 Tips For Mastering Your Personal Brand, Even If You’re Not A Marketer
1. Buy Your Personal Domain Name
What’s one of the first things that rising stars in Hollywood do?
They buy their personal domain names. All of them.
So others don’t get their hands on it and use it to profit from or taint their image.
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While you might not be planning to be the next J.Law, it should be a bit unsettling to know that someone can own your name as a URL and then use that as they wish.
Another great reason for owning your personal domain name is that you can use this URL to establish your personal brand, even if you’re not a marketer.
One of the Instagrammers I follow is Gregory Woodman. He’s a photographer based out in the North West and has a huge following on Instagram.
Now, he could have stopped with Instagram for his personal brand and done really well. But, he has his personal domain name linked to in his IG account and it lives as a portfolio for his work, showcases the big name brands he has worked with, and presents an easy way to contact him via email.
Gregory is a photographer, not a marketer in the sense truest sense of the word and yet he’s built and sculpted his personal brand to open the door to other opportunities that let him live the lifestyle he loves.
Plus, he stands out to people looking to hire him for work because of this.
You can do something similar.
But it starts with buying your personal URL name.
You can do this through places like GoDaddy or NameCheap.
I prefer the latter.
2. Clean Up Your Social Profiles
It’s not the easiest thing to do, but it is important when you’re taking control of your personal brand and what your online activities are telling the world.
Even if you’re not planning on a career change right now, you never know where life will take you. And what you’ve posted on social media can, without a doubt, affect your career.
If you don’t believe me, just look at what happened to the SNL writer that posted a short Tweet about Donald Trump’s son. Her remark was deemed inappropriate so much so that she’s been suspended from SNL…
No matter your view on that incident, this just further shows the power that social media can have on your personal and professional life.
Cleaning up your profiles could involve removing some photos or old remarks better left unsaid. However, it would also mean that you just need to polish it up.
For me, this meant a rebrand of my Instagram, changing out some banners on other profiles, and also getting some new headshots made up to fit in with my personal brand’s new direction.
3. Plan How To Build Your Online Presence
A lot of the articles out there about personal branding are directly related to professionals in the marketing world. I would know, I read them allllll the time.
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But as mentioned at the outset, while everyone has a personal brand most people don’t know they should be shaping their brand and how they look online.
Thankfully, while doing this will take some time, this isn’t very complicated.
Here are a few tips to help you get this started:
- Start With Your 5 Year Plan. In five years, do you see yourself wanting to do the same job at the same company for the same pay? If not, no matter what age you are, take a look at your five-year plan. If you don’t want to do what you do forever, then think about where you want to be in the near future. This could be an entire career shift or a move up the ladder. Once you think about where you want to go, then mapping out that journey will be much easier.
- Use Your Personal URL to Your Advantage. With a new plan under your belt, you should use your personal URL to your advantage. This means using it to get online with your photo, links to social profiles, and your experience. There a lot of options to do this. There’s Duda’s drag-and-drop builder, Squarespace, and others. Since I’m using my personal URL to create multiple types of content like blog posts and video, I chose WordPress for my site since creating that sort of content is what that platform is best used for.
- Write Some Articles Online or Create Video. You don’t need a blog to create and share content these days. Sites like Medium and YouTube give everyone a place to create a share their thoughts and ideas. The great thing about creating content here instead of just on your own site is that they have a better chance of showing up on the first page of a Google search and can help you stand out.
- Create Content That Makes You Shine. In the world of marketing, most start-ups I’ve worked with don’t want just another punch-card employee, they want people who can ownership of assignments and projects and lead them. In a world where the term “millennial” makes more recruiters cringe, you can show them through the content that you create that you’re knowledgeable, ready to take charge, and your personality to boot. Without a doubt, this takes creativity but that’s nothing compared to a dead-end job you never really wanted in the first place.
Whether you’re looking to move into the world of freelancing or into a brand new career, personal branding is one key that can help you break through barriers and get the job you really want.
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The way people hire, who they hire, and why they’ll pick one over the rest is not the same as it was 10 years ago.
By taking control of your personal brand, you can keep up with the times and do the type of work you really love.
What about you? Do you think you have a personal brand worth leveraging? Comment below or tweet me @ArielRule.
I’d love to hear your thoughts. (Really, I do!)