A good personal brand is key to setting yourself apart from the crowd. It should reflect your talents and personality, while also showing what you can bring to the table. Many times, a first impression will come through your brand, so it’s important to make it as strong as you can. I’ve been working on refreshing my personal brand, and wanted to share the following tips that have been the most meaningful for me.
Understand Your Value
In the past, I’ve made the mistake of thinking my value was based on who I was working for or the type of design I was doing. Now I have realized that our value as designers are the unique things we can bring to the table. Even though we work in the same industry, we all design differently and have our own styles, approaches, and individual skills.
To create a strong brand, recognize and emphasize the skills that make you unique. Knowing what you are best at also helps to narrow down the jobs you want or clients you want to work for. I used to apply for any and every design job, but as I’ve learned which skills I’m better at, I can concentrate more on jobs that focus on those skills (in my case, branding and UX design).
Don’t Blindly Follow Trends
It’s important to be up to date with current styles in the design world, but it would be a mistake to base one’s personal brand simply on a trend. Popular styles can change on a whim and usually don’t reflect a person’s core skills. Designing within a trend can also make your work look unoriginal or even copied, and can make it harder for you to discover your own style and voice.Your personal brand should be able to stand on its own for a long time, not just for a season. Let it reflect your true self.
Create Your Own Brand Guide
Just like a company’s brand, your personal brand needs guidelines for consistency and good flow. Define the colors, typefaces, icons, etc. that best describe you, and make sure to follow your own guide. You are building a professional brand, and the consistency created by having a brand guide will reflect that!
It’s also important to know that your personal brand is a living design; it will grow and change with you. As your skills excel, it might become necessary to update some aspects of your brand to continue to reflect your abilities and evolving style. If you always keep your brand up to date, your strengths and skills will speak for themselves.
In creating your brand and your branding guide, be purposeful with your decisions. A successful brand can stand on its own, but should not distract from the work you share. When thinking about your brand, take into account what you share on supporting social media accounts or in your portfolio. Share information and work that showcases your skills in the best way.
For example, I used to share everything I created, but now I realize that showing fewer, better pieces paint a better picture of my skills. It can also be helpful to separate different skills into different categories—for example, having a UX-specific portfolio for when you apply for UX jobs. It all depends on what works best for you and your brand.
I felt stressed and confused the first time I tried to create my personal brand. I was still trying to figure out my skills and abilities, and wasn’t sure yet of who I was as a designer. Now that I know myself better, I realize how exciting and fun it can be to create my personal brand! I really enjoyed the process of examining myself and deciding which strengths I want to emphasize, critically thinking through how I want my brand to look, and carefully choosing colors, fonts, and imagery that I feel best support it all. The fact that the brand is personal makes it more special and fun. Instead of thinking of building your brand as another job or chore, really dig in and enjoy the whole process of creating it! The more passion and enjoyment you put into your brand, the stronger it will be. It will be a true reflection of you.