In Bryant’s “Personal Branding” course, Jerrica Rowlett, Ph.D., is always reminding undergraduate students to be authentic.
“It’s proven time and time again that we trust people who we feel are similar to ourselves,” says the Communication and Language Studies assistant professor who’s guiding students through the process of creating a brand portfolio and website.
Personal branding is all about how people promote themselves. Whether you’re trying to become an influencer or make yourself marketable to companies, creating a successful brand starts with strategic decision-making.
“People, especially younger generations who've grown up with social media, expect personal branding to be easy and it’s not. Using social media every day is not the same as using it with purpose and intent,” Rowlett says.
To develop your personal brand, Rowlett offers five helpful tricks:
1. Know your audience
To determine which social media platform is right for your personal brand, individuals must look at their target audience.
“Who are you trying to make remember you?” Rowlett asks.
For those focused on building a professional brand, LinkedIn is the place to go. Users should actively share information about their industry to show what they’re doing and demonstrate their credibility. Rowlett adds that those who are more engaged in the arts and sciences should turn to Instagram where they can brand themselves visually and have enhanced creativity options.
“Video is also a powerful tool — whether it be TikTok, Instagram Reels, or YouTube,” Rowlett says. “It gives you the opportunity to demonstrate your tone, voice, and body language, so if you can incorporate video at any point, it’s going to be the most powerful way to get a message across.”
Rowlett adds that individuals should remember to bring their online selves offline.
“It’s best to be authentic online because it is much harder to fake being someone you are not when you are face-to-face,” Rowlett says.
2. Balance relatability and uniqueness
Being relatable will help others trust your brand and listen to what you have to say; however, individuals should also add their unique flair.
“If you want to be an entrepreneur, how do you differentiate yourself from others who are running similar businesses?” Rowlett asks.
She notes that when thinking about professionalism, people get stuck on who they’re supposed to be rather than who they are.
“You don’t have to conform because being someone memorable will be more important when it comes to hiring and marketing,” Rowlett says.
3. Implement high-quality visuals
“If you’re going to be producing visual content, it needs to be high quality,” Rowlett says.
Simple things like selecting color palettes for your brand can train people how to think of you visually. Rowlett notes that people should think of themselves in the way they think about national brands. Start by asking what is ‘x’ brand’s values and how are those values portrayed?
In addition to creating visual content, individuals should not overlook the written work accompanying images.
“The text-based aspect is where you get to flex your knowledge — whether it be through blogs, long-written posts, or shared posts that you’re adding your thoughts to,” Rowlett says.
4. Get people to associate you with your industry
According to Rowlett, sharing industry-related topics that you’re interested in on your Instagram story will train people to think of you in association with that industry. This strategy could lead to people reaching out when they are looking for someone in a specific area.
She notes that realtors are a great example of this since they brand themselves along with their industry and recognize that anyone in their personal or professional network could be in need of buying a property.
“Even if your network seems like just friends and family, they are also business professionals so think about them in that respect as well,” Rowlett says.
5. Consider how much you post and when
Keeping messages consistent and posting regularly are a must for those developing their personal brand.
Rowlett notes that the number of times a person posts depends on their brand and platform. TikTok users may post seven times a day while those on Instagram generate one to two daily posts while also using their stories.
“Make sure you’re looking at when your audience can be there to engage with you, and that they kind of know when you’re going to be posting,” Rowlett says, reminding individuals not to overshare or become too vulnerable.