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21 May


The way we work and make connections in the world today certainly can’t be compared to the days when our parents did it. These days, we’re expected to constantly market ourselves and our skills both online and off – and that can come with its own fair share of confusion and anxiety. For instance, what is a personal brand and what does it really mean to build one?

In plain terms, personal branding is the widely-recognised impression or perception of an individual, usually based on their expertise, experience and achievements within an industry, community or marketplace. To put it simply, “Your personal brand is how you promote yourself,” explains contributor, Gary Henderson. “It is the unique combination of skills, experience, and personality that you want your followers to see.”

Personal branding tells your story; it is the effort you make to communicate and present your value to the world. You may be wondering: Why can’t I just let my work speak for itself? But in a world where competition in nearly every field shows no sign of slowing down, what will you do to stand out?

Start thinking of yourself as a personal brand

For a long time, we’ve associated branding with companies, but today, almost every individual has a personal brand – including you. The question is: How do you want to mould and cultivate that? What do you want to be known for? What qualities do you want to be associated with? What words or ideas do you want to pop up in people’s minds when your name comes up? “Once you understand how you wish your brand to be perceived, you can start to be more strategic about your personal brand,” Forbes writer, Shama Hyder says.

What’s your online presence like?

You can only begin to work on perception when you know what the current one is. A good place to start is Google. Contrary to popular belief, typing your name into a search engine (regularly) is not weird; it’s a necessity. Building a strong personal brand is not just about being good at what you do, but being responsive to what is being said about you.

Start with a personal website

Before you dismiss the idea, let me tell you this: You don’t need to have tons of content or be a mogul to have a website of your own. All you need is a two or three-page site, with a brief bio, your CV, and links to your social media pages, and you can always expand on it as time goes on. More importantly, a personal website is one of the best ways to rank for your name on search engines.

Be purposeful in what you share

Every tweet, Instagram photo and Facebook status update you share contributes to your personal brand. So, what are you sharing? Social media is a great tool for building your brand but are you currently making effective use of it to let people know what you’re about, push content that’s in line with your brand and highlight your passions/areas of interest? If not, it might be time.

Associate with strong brands

“Your personal brand is strengthened or weakened by your connection to other brands,” says Hyder. So find and associate yourself with strong brands that can help improve yours. A great place to start is your University, company and colleagues. Is there an alumni newsletter you can contribute to? What unexplored opportunities might there be at your organisation? What networking events are close to you?

Ultimately, a personal brand is ever-evolving. The more you refine your brand, the more targeted your message becomes and the more you will be doing the work you want to do, with the people you want to work with.

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Kunmi Odueke
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