The Internet has connected the entire world in a mesh of global, decentralized content and service providers. Any content or service you offer has a global reach thanks to the internet, allowing you to reach anyone, anywhere, anytime. You can make a name for yourself in 2021, that is, if you know how to brand yourself.
With this new global reach comes a new dilemma: How to stand out professionally between these masses?
These questions truly capture the essence;
- Who are you?
- What do you stand for?
- What do you do?
- How do you communicate this to the world?
Without having a clear answer to these simple questions, you’re lost in this new digital jungle.
What is personal branding?
We all have a personal identity, just like brands. We choose who to associate with, we select which clothes we wear, how we present ourselves, how we talk, and even what brands we consume.
We’re constantly giving the people around us a message of who we are and what we stand for. However, most often, we don’t go to the trouble of thinking about it, we just tend to ‘wing it’.
Personal branding is all about making a conscious decision about who you are, what you stand for, what you do and how you plan on communicating this. Often this is then distilled into a personal logo, or visual identity.
When done correctly, this personal brand creates a functional, visually pleasing and consistent presentation of you and your content using the same colors, shapes, contrast, font and graphical fidelity your customers expect. This way, your personal brand becomes your unique way of presenting your content and services without thinking about these small but crucial choices.
For the people around you and your customers, your brand becomes a mark of pride that they instantly invest and revel in, knowing full well that there’s solid value in whatever it is that carries your brand.
Who is personal branding for?
Independent professionals, influencers and individuals hungry to do things their own way have to think about personal branding sooner or later. Ever heard the phrase, “You don’t dress for the job you have, you dress for the job you want”? The same applies to personal branding. It’s really useful if you can define what it is you’re ultimately trying to achieve through your content and services and build your brand around it.
Normally a logo is the core representation of a brand, something everything else is built around. With personal branding, this is a bit different, as the core representation of the brand is… well… you! That being said, there are many practical reasons to still make a logo as a secondary representation:
- You just can’t be everywhere at the same time, but a logo can
- A logo doesn’t have a ‘bad hair day’, it’s always reliable & consistent
- A logo can extend your professional image
So who is personal branding really for? Well, if you’re looking to extend your professional image, play a part on social media, or have your own business, you should seriously consider branding yourself.
Why is personal branding becoming more important?
In 2021, there are more ways to create and share content and services than ever before. For example, social networks such as Facebook and Instagram allow you to create and instantly share your content to the entire world. There is a kind of nuanced understanding of each social network that goes into adapting your brand to them.
The goal of personal branding on these platforms is to allow any given Facebook and Instagram user to follow you across platforms and find all your content without you spending a dime on marketing.
A revealing trend is that Youtube and video content in general are becoming more and more popular. In 2017, Youtube was used by 1.3 billion monthly users; in 2019, that was 2 billion.
As more and more people turn towards creating and watching online video content, the personal branding trend becomes clear— make your brand visually appealing to stand out and plan to eventually start making video content to attract the audience.
Should I brand myself?
If you plan on achieving a modicum of success, you absolutely have to brand yourself or you risk achieving fleeting success that slips out of your grasp just when you’ve tasted it. However, there are pros and cons to personal branding.
- Provides a unique visual identity
- Helps loyal customers make snap purchases
- Serves as a design guide that streamlines content production or offering of services
- Showcases your philosophy in some aspect of life
- Often done on a shoestring budget
- Badly executed personal branding will damage your image
How to go about creating your own personal brand?
Every brand revolves around a core audience that has a very specific desire. This audience and this desire should be something you are personally familiar with to a great degree.
Once you understand the audience and the desire, you have to define a philosophy that somehow raises the bar when it comes to fulfilling that desire.
If you can do that, you’re looking at tremendous success but you have to stay the course, which is where your personal brand comes in, helping you define how you’re going to grow.
Total Time: 10 days
Step 1 – Brainstorm
You should brainstorm what it is that represents your core philosophy and how it satisfies the one desire of your audience better than any of your competitors can.
Step 2 – Research
What do other personal brands look like? Are there any competitors? The more you research, the better the result.
Step 3 – Make a logo
Time to pour everything you’ve figured out into a way to visually represent it, best to start with the logo. If you’re feeling lost, look at successful individuals, such as Youtubers, and their personal brands to get some inspiration.
Also, you can choose to use a logo maker, or if you are looking to work together with a designer and have a unique and ownable identity, you can also choose to make a custom logo.
A powerful tool
Personal branding is a powerful way to stand out among millions of other professionals. To put it bluntly, personal branding represents you, showing to the world who you are and what you stand for.
Without having to convince anyone of your worth, you can work on building up your personal brand and it will represent a powerful statement of what you’re about, which corporations normally achieve by spending tons of money on marketing.
The best part of personal branding is that it reduces the need to do any marketing, as you can organically grow your online presence. You can focus on building up the quality of your content and services in-line with the branding guidelines you’ve set for yourself and, as your brand gets built up, the audience will be drawn in and start loving everything you do.
Examples of personal branding that hits home
PewDiePie personal brand
The YouTube sensation PewDiePie has over 103M subscribers. Specifically, his use of the red & black pattern provides a versatile and recognizable pattern that works as a brand for all of his quirky communications.
Michael Jordan personal brand
Michael Jordan was early to the game with branding himself, mainly due to his Nike contract. It allowed himself to become an absolute icon in sports.
Kim Kardashian personal brand
Ever since the Kardashians got into the public spotlight, Kim has excelled in funneling that attention. It’s then also unsurprising that she’s managed to brand herself in such a great way with her elegant & premium logo.
Roger Federer personal brand
Great branding for Roger Federer, but this one comes with a big warning. Apparently the logo was not actually owned by Roger, but by Nike. Always make sure to find out who owns the rights to your logo, and if they are being transferred as a part of the design process.
Other sports star branding
Many more sports stars have their own logo. Keep in mind that even though these seem to be out of reach, it’s all about projecting yourself. Remember; “You’re not dressing for the job you have but for the job you want!”
Besides having grown up in the design Industry, Christiaan has advised some of the world’s largest companies on their branding & packaging designs. Has been the resident judge for design awards, and has spoken at numerous global design & marketing events. Christiaan founded the London office of the award-winning Cartils agency, and has founded the DesignBro.com platform.