First, in “Not Being the Best” we discussed why it’s absolutely necessary for you to build a brand. Second, in “What’s in a Name” we looked at how to choose your name. Now, it’s time for Part 3 of our Personal Branding series – deciding on your brand image! Let’s dive in…
We’re not talking about changing who you are but rather about choosing who you want to be. There is no right or wrong decision but the issue is that sooner or later you’ll have to make one and stick with it. See, people don’t like complicated things and humans…we’re all pretty complicated. Creating an image means simplifying your identity. That sounds bad but think about it – it makes you easier to remember, easier to approach, easier to understand – and that’s what people want!
We think we are able to adapt and adjust according to each situation but we simply can’t. We’re not made that way. Sure, as kids, we loved playing dress-up as it gave us the freedom to be anyone! But now, unless you’re an actor by profession, it requires too much energy, time and effort to be anyone but yourself. So brand yourself as someone worth not changing.
Of course, face-to-face it’s easier to be consistent and so I’d remember meeting you. But we live in such a digital era that many, if not most of our interactions are online and so that personal touch is often lost. As a Program Advisor at Architect-US, I write back and forth with the participants, whose process I’m responsible for, and they’re quite a lot. This could lead to them becoming just another memorized email address for me, but I have their CVs and portfolios. This changes things – this helps me get to know them and care about them and their future! If you want, read our tips on how to make a great portfolio and an impressive CV.
But imagine a different scenario: you are desperately searching for a job and someone tells you they know someone within a company that is hiring at the moment and they give you his/her email address. How would you write that email so that it stands out, reflects your personality and entices the person in charge to invite you in for an interview? You could pretend to be very sophisticated, knowledgeable and senior but it might come through as if you were being fake, prideful and unrealistic about your worth. It really might, IF you write what you think people want to hear instead of writing the way you usually would. But that’s a topic for another time. For now, let’s be honest, you’ve never paid much attention to how you sign off, a.k.a your email signature but you SHOULD – that’s where you can show your true self!
So you should… do YOU!
But how do you decide who you are? The steps are:
- Know as much as you can about yourself.
- Decide what and how much of that that you want others to know.
- Simplify it even further.
As we said, humans are complicated so this task is the hardest one. I can tell you how I started that journey and, yes, tests are never fully correct but for me, this one is as close as it gets. I’ve even linked my result in my LinkedIn description because I think whoever wants to collaborate with me in some way, should know what to expect. (The test results feature the negative aspects as well.) You might have done it, but if you haven’t – do! It’s the free 16 Personalities test. I’m an ESFP – and in my case, it’s 90% accurate which is amazing! Reading your own results will help you learn things that you weren’t aware of, so I recommend it.
Decide How You Want to Be Perceived
After reading your results, or simply meditating for a few hours on what makes you YOU, write down a list of 10 sentences that describe you. Hint: also consider how your friends would describe you and how your professors would describe you. Are you a Big Picture Thinker or a Detail-Oriented Thinker, do you work better in a group or on your own, are you an early bird or a night owl? But don’t pick things because they sound nice. Everyone says they are hard-working, but most aren’t and that’s fine. Maybe you work smart because you don’t like to work hard and that’s awesome! Bill Gates said ‘I choose a lazy person to do a hard job. Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it’, so there’s no shaming in admitting you’re not the staple perfect employee or person.
Now that you’ve narrowed it down, we’re almost there. You have to choose 5 words to put on your final list – 5 words you want to be (or won’t mind being) remembered by. And now 5 random things you like to the point that they might define you. Do you really like animals? Do you have a lucky number? Are you obsessed with a certain color? Do you have a favorite hobby? Let me show you a draft of my list:
- Dramatically positive
- Loves dogs and rats
- American TV-shows fan
- Feels best in nature
- Believes that love is love
These 10 points are part of what makes me – me and are what I want to build my brand around. Maybe I should make my personal email’s signature feature my name in a weird hand-made font in a bold color, draw a little rat at the bottom and add my favorite quote/verse underneath. That would make it stand out from the normal sign-offs people usually read, right?
/Sidenote: This above is my ratty Westminster – who wouldn’t love him?!/
I hope this post has been at least a bit useful to you. Please, do think about it and decide on your 10 points. That way, when we move forward next week with the practical advice about your social media profiles, you’ll be ready to implement the improvements that apply to you.
Talk to you soon!
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to write me at firstname.lastname@example.org! I’m here to help!