The word is out: branding yourself is in. No professional can succeed in the business world without developing their personal brand! That’s what every article is telling you. Well, except the ones calling it a fad developed by self-absorbed millennials. So it’s time to settle this once and for all: to brand or not to brand.
Support for personal branding is constantly growing in professional environments. The concept is relatively simple: just like any other product, you are a brand that needs to be defined and marketed to become desirable. Execution of this concept ranges from the expected to the imaginative. The clothes you wear, your career goal, your website, and your work persona are all parts of the brand you create. If nurtured and controlled, your brand can be a powerful tool. You can use it to land your dream job or create a name for yourself throughout the industry. So why do others doubt it?
The skeptics seem to agree branding yourself is a fad. Self-absorbed millennials who have committed themselves to their online presence are now convincing themselves they are a hot commodity for sale. They tweak the way they look and act because they believe it will cultivate a demand. In the end, it has quite the opposite effect. Professionals are turned off by the self-interest and search for a more humble candidate who wants to help the company more than themselves.
As with most dichotomies, the truth lies in the middle. However, for this writer, I’m more inclined towards the branding side, in moderation.
At the end of the day, you are professional with a set of skills and goals. We are already accustomed to adjusting our presentation with interview attire and resume formats, so taking it a step further isn’t so far-fetched. When we step forward in any professional capacity, we must present a clear identity: “Here is who I am, what I am capable of, why I am desirable.” This, for lack of a better term, is your brand. The sooner you find your professional identity, the sooner you can move forward with your goals.
On the other hand, branding should have its limits. Personal logos, altered personalities, and an unhealthy obsession with your value can only lead to troubles. The skeptics are right, companies desire employees who provide value to the business, not just themselves. Additionally, the majority of people can sense a fake personality from across the room. Self-promotion can only take you so far before the only person seeing your value is yourself.
Take time to determine your “brand.” What are your skills? What are your goals? How do you stand out? How do you want others to view you? And always, step forward with honesty and conviction. Respect and opportunities will follow.
About the Author
Greta Boller is a technical writer located in the Washington, D.C. area. For more information, please visit her bio page.