Branding Series Pt. 1: Establishing A Brand
Branding is a crucial component in today’s professional world, especially online. When it comes to personal branding (yes, you have to start thinking of yourself as your own brand), everything you put out in the world becomes a curated, mediated thing. Though, as noted by Meg Button, CEO of Nuscreen Inc., a digital marketing and branding firm in downtown Toronto, it is crucial to make sure your offline persona is equally as perfected: be sure to work on the real-life version of yourself that can't edit-before-you-speak, that has emotions and will need to perform live - every day.
On one end, students (and all creators as a whole) must be articulate and purposeful with what content they publish- yet it should also never feel forced. From a business perspective, determine your own personal value proposition- that is, what you have to offer to the world, and build a brand based off that. This will yield the most successful, honest result that translates well in a professional way. Thinking of yourself as a unique skillset (using branding as a way to frame it) will help you to conceptualize what exactly a brand is- no fluffy marketing buzzwords needed.
I’ve broken down my branding guide into three simple steps to consider whether you’re just getting your personal brand started or you’re a seasoned pro looking for some refining.
1. Visual Consistency:
Yup, we’ve all heard the word aesthetic about a hundred times, but it truly is an important way to set yourself apart in a world of similar social media accounts. Visuals are everything (a picture really does say a thousand words), and is one of the quickest ways to get a message across to an audience. Communicating who you are through a group of photos can benefit your career and help you align with like-minded/similar people. In fact, in this digital age, it is almost a necessity to have your own website, especially if you’re a creative. Making a highly visual, dynamic sight is as easy as spelling ‘Squarespace’, right? This opens more opportunities for collaboration! Perfecting visual composition/content (a time-consuming and oftentimes difficult task), will be covered in the second part of our series with some tips for creative pros- so be sure to stay tuned for that!
2. Voice :
Complementary to stand-out visuals, the words you use are equally as important as what you/your brand look like. They come in a package, and tone and word choice are everything. Take a moment to establish your own professional (or not) tone, and stick to it. That’s the most important thing. If you use emojis, always use emojis, if you luv a gr8 shortened word, do it. RADmag sticks to only a handful of emojis and stays away from too many exclamation points. At the end of the day, consistency will make your brand stronger. This will help to establish a unified persona that further bolsters your brand and hireability. This especially goes for the keywords/language you use on your resume, LinkedIn, and even blogs.
Knowing your demographic is actually key (not just something you learned once in your Marketing 101 course). In simpler terms, every message has an audience, and so, you have to know your audience to properly tailor your messaging to them. It’s important to find a balance between talking to peers, and potential employers/collaborators- but just be yourself! It doesn’t need to be as in depth as you think (no SWOT analysis necessary) but a general idea of who your posts will be reaching that you should consider prior to posting.
This all being said, at the end of the day, one of the most important aspects to all of these rules is that “if you go to the effort of building an online persona for yourself, make sure you can back it up when you get to the workplace”, says Meg. Branding is very critical, but it’s not everything: just an additional step that will help put you a step ahead in today’s online world.
By: Stephanie Pereira