Here’s a question you may have never thought to ask yourself: “Should I have a personal brand?” My answer: Yes!
A personal brand can, and should, last longer than your hunt for a new job. It is a powerful networking tool. After all, aren’t we always trying to sell ourselves to every connection we make?
Is now the right time to work on your personal brand? Absolutely!
The old adage is, “There’s no time like the present.” Let’s face it, there is no certainty in the world. And while it’s comforting to think you have job security, you do not want to be caught off guard with whatever COVID-19 uncertainty comes next.
You are joining me as I finalize my personal brand. I decided now was a great time to refine it, not out of a concern about survival, but because I simply had the time to sit and focus. For a while I thought about refreshing the look of my website and unifying it with other items I produce, such as reels, business cards and even invoices.
Start with the basics
By its nature, design is the most visible component of any brand. You have a logo, digital and print assets. Even buildings! There’s a reason most freestanding McDonald’s look alike. A simple place to start when developing your own brand is picking a font you like. I began with Proxima Nova, but started to explore other serifs as the rest of the design world fell in love with Proxima Nova. A key to an effective brand is consistency. Use your font on everything that represents you: your emails, your resume, your business card, your website (if you have that flexibility — I do not). Heck, I go out of my way to change the font of a document no one besides myself will ever see, just to keep it on brand.
Next, pick some colors you enjoy that work well together. I’m not a colorist, but there are plenty of free online tools, such as Adobe Color, to help you create your own swatch. My color scheme, for example, samples colors of a sunrise over the ocean. Makes you feel warm, right? Does it have a particular meaning? Sure, but not really. I draw a lot of inspiration from the sky and from nostalgia. One of the places I am most happy is the beach at a resort in Fort Lauderdale that my parents and I would often visit. I also think the color blue is visually pleasing, especially on a screen.
But wait, there’s more!
Any brand efficianto will be quick to remind you that a brand is much more than graphic design. Brand voice is just as important. This is something I am cognizant of for my job but only recently thought about applying to my personal brand. Am I creating a whole lexicon for my personal brand? Of course not. Rather, I am paying closer attention to the way I’ve always written and spoken, identifying commonalities and making note of overall tone. In the process, I realized my writing style tends to be more upbeat and friendly. I start most emails with “Howdy!” and end with “Cheers!” Can I tell you exactly why say that, when I started or what influenced me? Nope. So my stuffy traditional LinkedIn bio needed to be refreshed.
Consistency is key
I’m only scratching the surface with personal branding. If you want to take a deep dive, take a look at your favorite Instagram motivational star or beauty blogger. The people behind that sort of content tend to have a pretty good grasp on branding. If you go to her page at any given time, every post should have a similar look from a 10,000 foot perspective. Color and imagery will be consistent. Text will look the same. Copy will be written with a familiar tone. One of the more impressive examples of personal branding I’ve seen is from a high school classmate of mine on LinkedIn who works alongside his father selling life insurance. His pictures are compelling and consistent, depicting him and his father working. His writing has a clear message and consistent tone. He has a good grasp of his personal brand and weaves it well into his business.
That makes me think of other people who have successfully made their personal brand a business one, but that veers away from my original topic. “Make ‘em pay!®”
Full disclosure: I am in no way an expert on personal branding. I’m just a dude with glasses, a scratchy beard and an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription. But I love this branding stuff and I’m getting better at it!