The Power of Professional Branding
Branding at a High Level
My initial thoughts of branding are of companies large and small. Popular brands, like Coca-Cola and Nike, can linger in the minds of customers for a lifetime. Logos, websites, social media profiles, and company email domains all have the task of bonding the individuals within to the company’s unique outward brand.
Not only is the outward brand important, but internally the company must be united. From the CEO to the environmental specialist, having a cohesive branded image across a company is key to attracting new business and accomplishing the company’s defined values.
Companies may rebrand themselves to broaden their customer base, to better cater to their target audience, or to revive a failing business. One such example is American Eagle’s new brand, Aerie. Aerie featured un-airbrushed models in its 2014 ad campaign, speaking directly to millennials who want to see themselves represented, doing away with the outdated portrayal of supermodels as flawless. Aerie hit the mark! The proof is its sales growth quarter over quarter since the launch.
You Are a Brand
So, what do you have in common with an internationally branded company? I believe that a multi-million-dollar business model is comparable in scale to an individual brand. Let me explain.
Prior to aligning with the vision of the company you wish to work with, it is important to think about your personal brand. Things like a resume and email address—even your social media profiles—all have the power to add to or subtract from the value of your brand.
Your brand speaks for you when you are not there to speak for yourself. When a potential employer reviews your resume, he or she is essentially asking, “What value does this person add to the company?”
Even when you are present, don’t offer any contradiction between what you say and what your brand says about you.
Having a resume that is well-formatted and free of grammatical errors is a good start. Even a simple resume is better than having no resume at all! Resume writing services can be a great investment, or you might find a friend or relative willing to provide critiques for free. Just ask around.
A Professional Email
Your email address is like the “Contact Us” section on a company’s website. Imagine your resume is your personal website with your contact information at the top, centered. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of having a professional email address.
The last thing you want is for your resume to be thrown in the trash after a quick glance at your email, telling a hiring manager that the best way to contact is you is at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Save those addresses for your Netflix subscription!
The key is to keep it simple—the email should be a combination of your name or initials—such as email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or even email@example.com. People never have to wonder who they are messaging, since your name is spelled out in the address, eliminating confusion.
Email addresses can be set up in a matter of minutes, at no cost, and used immediately, which means you can have more than one. I personally have three different email addresses: One is used strictly for junk mail. Another email is used for bills and parenting-related mail. Then another is dedicated solely to professional job-related mail.
Your Social Media Brand
In this digital age, your social media presence can be detrimental to a company. Think of celebrities who lose endorsement deals and are forced to make embarrassing public apologies for failing to remember that their personal brand directly correlates to the brand of companies paying them huge sums.
Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can serve as outlets of fun interaction; however, if you are on the hunt for a new job, make sure that each of your social profiles speaks positively of you. From your profile picture to the content you like, share, and post—you must remember that eyes both known and unknown are watching.
Facebook’s privacy settings can protect you from most unwanted backlash; however, your profile picture, in the very least, should be a true reflection of your personality, yet not draw negative attention that could prevent that call for an interview or even a job offer.
A good rule of thumb for social media is: if you wouldn’t want your boss to see it, don’t post it.
Branding on LinkedIn
Whether or not you are looking for a job, having a LinkedIn profile is a must. LinkedIn can serve as another form of a resume—with more details than the limited one-page document.
This is also a great place to discover more about personal branding since you can network with others whose brands may be more developed. Build up your network here, just as you would build up followers on Instagram.
Make sure that your profile is active, taking as much time with it each day as you do other social media platforms. Display your skills and experience; ask your connections to endorse you and write a recommendation.
Take time on LinkedIn to research companies of interest and their current staff, as well as industry-related news. The platform has many useful tools that can assist you in landing your next job.
“I think; therefore, I am.” Descartes’ famous philosophical quote is applicable here. If you think of yourself as brand, you will be a brand. Take time to consider your personal value system, skill set, and vision for your career. Whether you have laid a foundation or are starting from scratch, begin today building a brand that will carry you toward future success.