According to Wikipedia, a brand is defined as “a name, term, design, symbol, or other feature that distinguishes an organisation or product from its rivals in the eyes of the customer.”
We are exposed to brands every day, and they are the reason people choose Heinz Baked Beans over supermarket own. A well-known brand is associated with quality, reliability and trust.
On that basis, the latest buzzword is ‘personal branding’. Applying a brand to a person, or name, with the aim of garnering similar results – that you become the go-to person for a service or product. Beyoncé is a popular example of the development of personal branding: even her children have had their names filed for trademark in preparation for future merchandising and promotion.
While this might be an extreme example, you might want to take a leaf out of Bey’s book in terms of building up a personal brand, particularly when it comes to job searching. Here we have put together six top tips for distinguishing yourself from your peers and creating an awesome personal brand that employers will love:
Identify your USP
What makes you stand out from the crowd? This question usually generates two kinds of response. You’ll either be the “Ooh glad you asked! There’s lots of things that make me special, there’s this, this, this, oh and this…”, or you’ll be of the ‘shrugs shoulders and says “Nothing” in a despondent voice’ sort.
To the multi-talented mavericks out there: sure, it’s great you have lots of skills and attributes. They will certainly be invaluable to you throughout life. However, when we speak of USP or ‘Unique Selling Point’, we’re really trying to look for one or two really BIG sellers. Why? Because if you reel off a shopping list it dilutes the impact. Some things can be left for the employer to discover once you’re in, like how polite and punctual you are. Stick to one or two impressive skills, passions or attributes, and employers will remember this much more easily. Well-known brands are doing the same: Cadbury are still known predominantly for their feel-good Dairy Milk chocolate, Disney are synonymous with magic and Apple are known for technology.
Now, this isn’t to say you have to stick to that same USP throughout your job search or career even. The clever bit is you can adapt your USP as you gain experience, meaning you’ll have the opportunity to exercise all those lovely skills.
To the despairing: you won’t get far with an attitude of ‘there’s nothing special about me’. Of course there is! Don’t underestimate the power of being ‘friendly’ or ‘good with Excel’ – that could read as ‘confident with excellent customer/client care skills’ and ‘highly proficient in accurate database administration’. See where we’re going with this?
Networking has come on in leaps and bounds, with social media such as LinkedIn greatly improving the networking experience. Connect with the companies and personnel that you aspire to join, interact with posts and make sure you post positive relevant content regularly to remind people of your presence. Check out our blog on how to improve your LinkedIn profile if yours is in need of a spruce.
You could also let family and friends know if you’re job searching. You never know, they may just know a friend of a friend who could help you secure an interview!
Don’t just tell people what you’re great at, show them
Enough said. In today’s society it is very easy for your average Joe to show off and brag about himself. We are inundated with images of people who are constantly documenting their fantastic lives, or sharing their opinions/ideas even if nobody in particular is listening. The way to stand out? Don’t just talk the talk, walk the walk. Feature videos or blogs about projects you have worked on, ask your team mates, tutors or clients if they can provide testimonials that you can share…think creatively.
Never underestimate the power of kindness. People will always remember and appreciate someone who stops to help provide a solution to their problem, especially if it feels genuine and without ulterior motive. That said, don’t try to find problems that don’t exist and don’t let it compromise your time.
Stand for something
Don’t always do or say things to please others, if that’s not how you really feel. People gravitate to people who are authentic. If you feel passionately about a topic, or cause, or pineapple on pizza, don’t be afraid to respectfully take a stand. In the 2017 Edelman Earned Brand survey, conducted on 14,000 people in 14 countries, 57% are buying or boycotting brands based on its position on a social or political issue.
Research and review
Finally, no brand strategy is complete without an ongoing evaluation of its success. If you find yourself in a bit of a rut a few months down the line, try to find out why. What is working well for you? What isn’t? What do your friends/family/mentors think? A mini SWAT analysis will help you to spot where you can improve.