“Such a ‘salesy’ concept.” “Just work hard and people will notice!” “That’s only for executives or people who are trying to create an audience for themselves, not for me.” In other words, a waste of time. While it is true that it’s typically your C-suite executives and speakers that have the million dollar headshots and marketing photos, PR firms to turn quotable quotes into sharable memes, and the high dollar LinkedIn premium accounts, it is a pure myth that it is not for you.
Your brand is your chance to tell your professional story. As your career progresses, you naturally go from someone trying to make a name for yourself to someone with expertise, which of course comes many perks well beyond a salary increase. To drive the point with a case study, look at Beyonce and Leona Lewis. Both artists have incredible voices and perform in the same musical genre. The difference, however, is quite clear as nearly everyone knows who the native Houstonian former lead singer of Destiny’s Child is, while you may be asking yourself why Leona Lewis sounds familiar. Early on in her career, Beyonce was marketed as a vocal powerhouse after losing Star Search, who was not to be messed with. Her imaging was consistent with a message to match and she kept working to put music out that audiences identified with. It would be a challenge to think of a wedding within the last decade that did not play “Single Ladies” while the bridal bouquet was being tossed! Leona Lewis, on the other hand, is a British singer who won the third season of Simon Cowell’s X-Factor and made a name for herself when “Bleeding Love” came crashing into the airwaves in 2007. To put it simply, one of these women have remained a top performing artist, earning more with each song. The other, equally talented, has not. The difference is how each marketed themselves.
While you are not pursuing music, you are pursuing a career, which requires your effort to get your name recognized beyond what can be written on a resume. It is beyond a logo, color scheme or customized font, or the work that you do. It is the story of experience and builds recognition and credibility. The more value you give, the more value you receive. Contributing to blog posts counts you as published in your field. Posting valuable content on LinkedIn establishes you as a leader in your field, and before you know it, people will begin asking for your thoughts. If you are able to speak at a conference or contribute to a podcast, this curates a forward-thinking image. The more you can put your name and face in front of people, the faster your professional expertise will become recognized. One survey shows that 81% of consumers value authenticity and trust in a brand, while 66% value product transparency. Diving in further, 64% of Millennial and Gen-Z consumers want brands to be vocal about social issues and serving the community. Establishing an expertise and knowing what people want to hear is vital to getting your voice heard.
During the times of COVID-19, our industry has become all too familiar with colleagues and clients being laid off or furloughed and looking for work. Having established a personal brand ensures you are a marketable employee or trustworthy entrepreneur and provides job stability. This in turn increases your value, sales, client retention and industry staying power. Your personal brand matters.