Growing up we watched westerns. Lots of westerns. Whether it was Rawhide, Bonanza, F-Troop, The Lone Ranger, Gun Smoke or the Rifleman on TV to the spaghetti westerns of Lee Van Clef, Terrence Hill, John Wayne or Clint Eastwood on the big screen, we loved westerns and still do today. Aside from the theme of the adventure dramas something you occasionally seen was elements of cowboy life, the roping and herding of cattle … and the branding. Cattle were branded as a means of identifying whose property the animal belonged to. It was meant to stave off rustling – theft and act as, often unknowingly, advertisement. Today when you enter into some restaurants and grocery store meat markets you will see a graphic branding representing cattle branding from days past. Branding is an advertising element that has become common place for anything looking to be monetized, not just groceries and store bought goods, but services and skills, including – you.
Branding ourselves is a bit of a misnomer. Other people brand us by how they experience who we are, what we do, and how we do it.”
Wanna job? Want a job in seemingly a different career path? Heed the marketing guru’s of the labor force. It isn’t enough to have a resume, you need to market yourself professionally. Branding can help and branding can hurt, in more ways than one. You are in essence advertising who you are to the world at large, and it’s best to know what you are getting yourself into with respect to your public and exposed private life.
Lots of people are already, unknowingly (or sometimes knowingly but not rationalizing the ramifications) marketing themselves socially. Facebook, Youtube, WhatsApp, WeChat and other platforms, while social in nature, “brand” you in the eyes of others. Blogger Alfred Lua enumerates some of these sites and their role in social media marketing. Just as your appearance in person impacts a person’s decision about who or what you are about, social media likewise can be a determinate in your professional life. China is going so far as to develop a social credit score around your digital footprint for use in controlling the behavior and lives of it’s citizens through social media. People are literally being both rewarded and punished according to a twisted Orwellian type of control. Being even sided, there are opinions that believe the level of governmental controls are being overstated, the simple fact such a score exists and is being used to determine the direction of someones life is the point to be made. Even determining the type of job you can hold. This is how important your personal social appearance and professional brand can be to you. While residing outside of China you may think you are safe from such scrutiny. In fact, you may be under the microscope more than you are aware.
Not knowing who is looking at you, you should seek to be well informed and account for the information you make subject to review. Perhaps it’s time to “spit shine” your appearance as well. Who knows, your next employer may be researching you more than you realize. Rather than have society brand you, craft the appearance that conveys who you really are.
Caroline Ceniza-Levine in “3 Tactics to Rebrand Yourself and Be Seen Differntly” offers the three generalized steps to mixing “up your brand or re-brand” by:
- [Focusing] on the area that positions you in the best light.
- [Focusing] on where you want to go, not what you’ve been doing.
- [Expanding] your network to broaden your brand.
Use social networking to your advantage.
… the reality is that individuals (and companies) are more complicated than a single tag line or campaign, and sometimes you want to be known for something else.
One such advantage is identifying what multiple pursuits, engagements and accomplishments you already have. With each of these you also have a unique brand. Consider what information you make public with Facebook, and what should be private. Focus in communicating the information you want others to know that contribute to the brand you want to communicate and be seen for.
Make this information as visible as possible in the social forums you use. Additionally familiarizing yourself with any viewing restrictions the platform, like Facebook, might have. Consider the reviewing the article by Natasha Stokes on “The Complete Guide to Facebook Privacy Settings” (popup-heavy ad site). It is best to limit or restrict information that might take away from the brand image you are wanting to create. Be sure to keep social profiles updated with current information and to expand your LinkedIn profile as pertinent information is generated.
LinkedIn Learning goes in great detail about coordinating your brand across multiple media platforms. Making sure you LinkedIn, personal/professional blog and Facebook profiles (as an example) both reflect similar content. They recommend an 80/20 rule of casual to business related content.
They further promote creating video content, including live streaming. LinkedIn further gives some suggestions as to the content you can employ, such as behind the scenes “authentic, relatable” content.
As you build your brand, think about what detail others may be overlooking, develop a self awareness and think BIGGER, but make sure you know the difference between self-reflection and branding. You will need self-reflection in the rebranding process. Self-reflection will reveal the attributes of your strengths and passions, the underlying interests and motivations you intrinsically have – your internalized value. Use this self-reflection to determine your career direction and then brand yourself for the occupations you desire.
What you are try to do with branding is to influence others as to who you are and what you are about and how that relates to what you want to accomplish. Once you know the personal attributes from self-reflecting Liz Ryan in a Forbes article goes as far to say that employers don’t know you personally so don’t really have any interest if you or your friends think you are hardworking and reliable.
Employers do not care if you think you’re hardworking. They don’t care if your friends think you’re reliable. Personal attributes like the ones on your list do not belong on your resume or in your LinkedIn profile.
These aren’t the things to “directly” communicate, rather you want to “illustrate” them instead. You do this by building story lines that describes these attributes in action. Per Liz Ryan, “Employers want to read about what you’ve already done, not lists of characteristics you think you possess.”
The article “7 steps to rebrand yourself for a career change” by Lisa Evans quotes Dawn Graham author of “Switchers: How Smart Professions Change Career-and Seize Success” (<– wow, what a citiation), offers some elaboration on what she considers the 7 steps to branding:
- Change Your Social Presence
- Find Your Transferable Skills
- Do Your Research
- Don’t Lead With Your Title
- Know Your Audience
- Cherry-pick Experiences
- Justify The Switch