As a young professional, building a personal brand could be a tangential journey to building your career. Gabrielle Joffie, a Marketing & Branding executive based in Atlanta, Ga has compiled 4 building blocks to help you dive into your personal narrative to help you find the room to be in the room:
Architects and designers use blueprints to help build the foundation of the room, which relates to your brand as well. What is your blueprint? Creating & identifying who you are is essential in developing your brand. Reflect on your early days. Where did you grow up? What motivated you to get you to where you are today? What did you major in and why? I am a firm believer that you are a product of your environment, but you have the tools to enhance that product and present it to the world how you see fit.
2- Brand Aesthetic
If you are starting from scratch, it is essential to establish your brand aesthetic and to identify your authentic voice. The brand aesthetic is the feeling & mood of your brand. Let’s take Steve Jobs, for example. He is synonymous with Apple, as he is the founder of this iconic brand. But more importantly, he is a strong brand on his own. If you were to ask someone to describe Steve, we would all say black turtle neck, jeans, and to “Think Different.” When developing your aesthetic, stay true to your authentic voice and find what your wow factor is- which can come in the form of brand colors, unique quotes, or imagery is. A digital assessment of your current brand assets and social media presence is crucial when you are re-branding or creating your brand.
I am a visual person, so for me, I always recommend to my clients in creating a visual mood board. I like to use Pinterest or any platform that allows you to group images. What are the common colors seen in your mood board? Are there any fonts that you like? This can be used in creating your digital assets, which should all be aligned and have synergy with your brand, at the end of a day, a brand is a consistent message that sells or promotes a product. In this case, you are the product.
3- Get Discovered
Now that your blue print is in place and you’ve identified your brand aesthetic, it’s time to get discovered!
Let’s break this down, where do you want people to find you? Social Media, Blog, Website, and Publications?
I am a firm believer in investing in yourself, but before you get to that, it’s vital to utilize the free tools that exist like Linkedin, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Medium. These platforms can help to promote your brand messaging, services, and also serve as lead generators. It amazes me how often I meet professionals who are job hunting and do not have a LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the Facebook of the professional community. There are several resources from career networking to promoting your brand or company within the platform. Your LinkedIn should be just as sharp as your resume. Some companies use this platform instead of asking for a traditional resume.
Your social media is a presentation of who you are. What you post is public and should be treated as such. If you have content on your social platforms that is not a good representation of who you are, archive and delete. Referring back to your brand aesthetic, you want to ensure that past and future posts are a representation of your personal brand’s look and feel. Potential employers and publicists (if you would like to work within media) are active on social and 9 out of 10 times will do a social media search on you before they even speak with you in person.
Besides having a traditional resume, it is also imperative to have a dedicated landing page or website that explains exactly what you do. Whether you decide to use a free site or a paid one, your landing page should include your bio, education, five facts about you, how people can reach you, and any work samples you can share from your portfolio.
4- Build your Tribe
Before you can begin to sell/promote your brand, it is important to get your internal network, aka, tribe, on board. But who is in your tribe?
Having a strong, close-knit network of people that you can confide in when it comes to your career is essential to your success. Your network is greater than your net worth. As a young professional, the odds are that your income and net worth are not where you’d ideally want them. Don’t fret! This is the time where you grow your network by connecting with potential mentors and leaders in your industry. Their guidance and clout will help to increase yours. Again, LinkedIn is a great platform to make these genuine connections.
At this point, the invites to networking events are flooding in because you’ve made the room to now be in the room. Don’t show up empty-handed. Whenever you attend a networking event, bring your business cards. Your business cards should have your Name, Phone Number, Email Address, Website, and a fun quote. We’ve all been there “oops, I forgot my business cards; are you on Instagram?”. This isn’t the end of the world, but you should always come prepared. There are even websites and apps that have digital business cards in case you forget. When I meet someone new, I always take a picture of their business card if I lose it. When the event is over, and you arrive home or the next morning, email the new contacts that you’ve met. Do this as soon as possible so that it is still fresh in both of your minds. I often like to include something memorable about our encounter in my email.
I know I covered a lot of information. Let’s do a recap of the four building blocks of defining your room- Blueprint, Brand Aesthetic, Become Discovered, and Build Your Tribe. As you grow within your career and evolve as a person, your brand will always evolve. It’s okay to pause, reflect, and make tweaks to your messaging. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve revised my website, blog, and bio.
Written by: Gabrielle Joffie, owner of Digital Mavens.