Have you ever noticed or wondered why when you see an apple with a chunk bitten off you automatically think of Apple? Or why whenever you see golden arches you think of McDonalds and their delicious fries? That is called branding. As defined by Webster’s Dictionary, branding is the promotion of a product or service by identifying it with a particular brand.
As a young professional, it is very important that you establish a clear brand to follow you throughout your career. Your brand can be identified by anything – a logo, symbols, color, emotions, experiences, memories, tone, employees, or even sound. Branding is not only important on a professional level but also on a personal level. After all, your brand identity reflects you at all times.
How to create your brand
The first step is to answer the question “what?” In other words, what is your product? What services will you be offering? As a graphic designer, I would offer creative services such as branding, logo design, collateral design, and website design.
Next, answer the question “who?” Who are you? In this step you should identify and prioritize your core values. What do you want your brand to be recognized as? What story do you want to tell? Now, you can start to formulate your mission statement which should include, who, what, and where.
The third step is to identify your target audience. Your target audience is made up of three groups. Who will pay you, the people you influence who will pay you, and your supporters.
After that, begin to develop your professional image. This step is a big one! Your professional image should be someone who is reliable, consistent, creative, and memorable. Consistency is very important in the professional field. Whether it be coming in to the office at the same time every single day or always delivering the same amount of work (or more) in a certain time frame, employers want consistency. Employers also look for creativity. Creativity can be used to bring a fresh, new look into a company. A new way of thinking that can increase profit. Creativity can also make you memorable. Being memorable is tricky; you never want to be remembered for the wrong reasons. There are several different ways of being memorable but the key is finding something that works for you. In the entertainment industry there is a guy known as the “2 Dollar Guy.” Everyone remembers him because he gives a two-dollar bill to everyone he meets. I’m not sure what this says about his brand but the point is that it makes him extremely memorable.
Once you have the first 4 steps down, you can begin to develop your visual brand. This includes a logo, business cards, and a website. The steps you have taken to get here should influence your visual brand. If you are not a designer I would recommend hiring one or using sites such as Vista Print. You also don’t have to be a web designer to have a professional looking website. Sites like WordPress or Squarespace make it easy for the non-designer to build a custom site.
The final step is to get out there and network! This is possibly the most important step in self-branding. It is important to keep in mind the while networking you are building a reputation and credibility for yourself and your business. Branding is not only crucial on a professional level, but it is also key on a personal level.