A while ago we conducted a survey among female entrepreneurs for marketing in the design industry. This survey showed that the respondents are rather reluctant in branding themselves. When we talked with them about this they thought they were the only ones that struggled with developing their brand. One of the respondents said: ‘In the past I could only show my portfolio and I could do my job. Now, there’s a lot more competition so I have to show who I am and what I’m capable of. It’s completely new to me’. So, as a designer it’s increasingly important to show people your expertise. To do it right, you don’t only have to show your portfolio, but also your authentic self!
Why personal branding works
Imagine, you want to create a new website and are looking for a good web designer. What are you going to do? You ask friends, acquaintances and family if they can recommend someone. Friend A, Acquaintance B and Family Member C all recommend someone else. In most cases they’ll give you a first and last name. Sometimes, they’ll give you a company name. What are you going to do then? You’ll google the first and last name of the person to find some information about him/her. You combine this information with the recommendation you got of him/her and decide to do business or not. Google doesn’t find anything on the recommendation of Friend A. You only find unclear information about the recommendation of Acquaintance B, because the only thing you find is that this person is a photographer in his/her spare time, writes copy, teaches painting workshops and designs websites ones in a while. So, is this person a good web designer? You decide to google the third person also. A clear Linkedn profile appears, he/she is located in the area and specialized in SEO and designing websites for companies in the creative industry. It’s exactly what you’re looking for! This proofs that (online) branding provides you customers!
The purpose of peronal branding
The above example shows how important (online) personal branding is. You choose someone you feel comfortable with. Despite the company name isn’t it? People buy from people they trust instead of companies. So they better know who you are.
According to Roberto Blake, a graphic designer himself (who also has a successful blog and video's on YouTube) describes personal branding as follows: ‘Your brand is what people think and say about you. It is the values that are associated with you and what you do or provide’.
By branding yourself, people get to know you. There are several ways in which you can do this. In the above video Roberto Blake explains how he addresses it. By writing a blog or creating a video that contains content about his work. The most important thing is that you create content with which you feel comfortable and love to do, so you can show your authentic self.
How do you do it?
It’s important develop an authentic personal brand. Being yourself is very important. There are four things you can do:
1. Use your own name as your brand name;
3. Create a professional LinkedIn profile;
4. Add an ‘about me’ page to your website.
Use your own name as your brand name
When people google you after a recommendation, they most likely use your first name and last name to find information about you. Especially when you work as a freelancer you could (partly) use your name as your company name. This increases the online searches and visibility and helps you to become your own brand!
Secondly, you could measure your ‘brand status’ by googling yourself. The results you get are the same as the results your audience will see. You can ask yourself the following questions:
· Am I satisfied with the results I get? No, how does this effect my online brand?
· Am I (online) visible enough? A. Can people find enough information about my expertise? B. Aren’t there too much irrelevant search results?
· Do these search results match my brand? No, what causes it and how can I change it?
When you can answer the above questions with ‘yes’ your developing your brand pretty well. When you answered ‘no’ to more than one question, you have to take a critical look at your brand.
Ceate a professional LinkedIn profile
The first thing Google displays when you type your name is your LinkedIn profile and/or your Twitter account. LinkedIn is like a ‘personal website’. It’s the first page people click to find information about you. A big advantage is that you can influence this page all by yourself!
So it’s good to create a LinkedIn profile, when you don’t have it yet. Besides general information you can also add blogs, photo’s, designs, links, video’s and recommendations. It helps you to distinguish yourself from others. Also add a link to your website, but make sure your LinkedIn profile only displays who you are. You can better display your work on your website. Fill out your LinkedIn profile as much as you can, because this generates the best results. This makes it easier for people to picture you and your profile will show up in more searches. Use recent and compelling photos of yourself. Profiles without photos look unreliable.
Add an ‘about me’ page on your website
You probably already have your own website. Have you looked at it critical lately? The aim of your website is to mention what you do. You can for example create a portfolio of your designs. What you really need to do is creating an ‘about me’ page. Did you know that it’s the most visited page of your website after the ‘homepage’. Although it’s important to distinguish who you are (LinkedIn) and your expertise (website), it’s still useful to create an ‘about me’ page (including a recent photo) on which you write short copy of what drives you. This makes it easier for your audience to recognize themselves in you. Make sure your brand on your website matches your LinkedIn profile.
In this blog I showed you what personal branding is, why it’s important for you as a designer and how you can create your personal brand. I’m curious to what extend you’re developing a personal brand and what makes creating a personal brand difficult.