Beginner's Guide to Building Your Personal Brand

Having the right image can make or break your career, so it's important to know the ins and outs of building your personal brand.

Beginner's Guide to Building Your Personal Brand

Donald Trump. Mark Zuckerberg. Bill Gates. Steve Jobs...

We all know these names, and we all know the traits of the people who own those names. Why? Because, in today's world, every great CEO has their own unique personal brand - and they market themselves as both geniuses and personalities in their own right. 

Even if you aren't looking to start a Fortune 500 company, building your own personal brand can make a huge difference in how much money you make, how respected you are, and even how successful you are on a social level. Simply put, if you want to get ahead, you need to brand yourself. 

Making your own brand is easy once you know how to do it. Here's the scoop on laying the foundation to a good personal brand, according to image experts. 

First things first, take an account of what kind of image you naturally present - and the industry you work in.

First things first, take an account of what kind of image you naturally present - and the industry you work in.

At the end of the day, your personal brand is still you - just packaged in a more commercial-friendly way. After all, your brand is what's going to get you hired, and it's what you can use to gain clout in your industry. 

That being said, sometimes, the person who you are just won't really fit in with the standard image set by an industry. If you work in an industry that's heavily conformist, you may want to try to abide by the guidelines that are typically expected by employers. 

For example, if you're an eccentrically-dressed hippie, you probably won't do well in ultra-conservative Wall Street without significant work to hide your real self. You may need a work wardrobe and a home wardrobe to make it work. 

On the other hand, that free spirited hippie dress style can be great in media, art, or music. In fact, dressing strangely can actually help your brand here. 

Before you can really start getting into the groove of building a personal brand, make sure that your wardrobe matches the industry - at least in part. Depending on your brand, you might be able to go slightly more casual, but even so, there's only so different you can be. 

Think about your target audience, and what they would look for in someone they'd hire.

Think about your target audience, and what they would look for in someone they'd hire.

Brands are made with a target audience in mind. That's why Uber marketed itself with a Millennial-friendly app. That's why Cartoon Network's Adult Swim has such a "high school and college" vibe to it. And, that's why Goldman-Sachs is so formal in its appearance. 

Now that you're a brand, the people who would hire you are your target audience. 

Think about the kind of places you'd want to work, and what kind of traits people want to see in the people who your target audience would hire. If you're a finance guru, you'd be wise to look rich and successful, but approachable. If you're a fashionista, you definitely should look put together 24/7. 

Make a list of these traits, and put a star next to the ones that you personally know you can really flaunt. The starred traits are going to be the ones that you should focus on bringing forth - along with your competence in your field. 

In a word, the starred traits will be the cornerstone of your image.

Consider getting a logo, a theme, or an image that suits the brand you're trying to build.

Most company brands will have logos that people can recognize easily. Why shouldn't your own personal brand have a logo or a photo that they can associate with you?

It doesn't have to be overly involved, nor does it even have to be a serious logo. Something as simple as a signature or a headshot photo of yourself looking your best can work wonders.

Of course, if you're looking to get into modeling or social media persona, then you may need way more than just one photo - and that may mean that you will have to book regular photoshoots to make it happen. 

Create an online presence that works to bolster that image.

Create an online presence that works to bolster that image.

If you aren't on social media, get online and start posting professional, brand-friendly stuff. A huge portion of employers look for your social media in order to determine whether they'll hire you. So, as such, you might want to invest time in cultivating that social media game. 

People who really want to get into their personal brand may want to consider getting a customized webpage that showcases their writing, photos, and resume. 

Though it seems like a lot of work, it's work that will almost always pay off in major ways. After all, it's easier to be in demand if you have an amazing personal brand. 

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Beginner's Guide to Building Your Personal Brand
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