What’s your brand image?

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When you hear the names “Nike” or “Starbucks”, what comes to your mind? “Nike” represents athletic performance and athletic prestige. “Starbucks” illuminates the white cup with the green logo, personalization and the cozy atmosphere inside. Your interpretation of these names may be different; however, we’ve all heard of them and we all have some relatively similar connotation. We’re exposed to hundreds of powerful brands every day. Now, it’s time for you to develop your own.

Start by asking yourself, what do people think of when they hear your name? Do they even think of something? Is it consistent with your own image of yourself? A brand image doesn’t just pertain to companies or businesses. People, too, have personal brand images representing their interests, expertise, opinions, etc. Whether you’re a student, professor, or working professional, it is important to create a plan when creating or strengthening your brand image for your career.

One of the Haas defining principles is to always be a student, constantly learning with an open-mind and adapting to our surroundings. You don’t have to figure out your life’s ultimate purpose, but rather create a brand image that accurately represents yourself while appealing to your target audience. In order to do this, you’ll need to research a bit.

Step 1: What’s your message?

Figure out how you want to be perceived. Do you want people to think of you as a leader who is friendly and comical? Or do you want people to think of you as the hardworking individual who can get their work done efficiently? Or maybe you want people to see you as both.

Step 2: Audience and Competition

Research your target audience. In other words, who are the people you are trying to give an impression? Are you aspiring to work in marketing? Maybe it’s finance or accounting. Whatever field or line of work you are trying to enter, make sure you are familiar with its leaders. Once you figure that out, you’ll need to research your competition. Who are other players in your market that are trying to attain the same goals? For example, if you’re student trying to pursue a job in banking, take a look at what other students and banking professionals are doing with their personal image.  

Step 3: Implementation

With today’s technology, there are many channels and platforms that can be utilized in order to communicate your brand image to your target audience. Some of these include the more common social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. However, there are also less common methods such as creating a personal blog. Nevertheless, it is critical you communicate the same brand message with consistency throughout all the channels. Post about conversations you’ve had with business professionals or thought-leaders in the industry. Create content people want to engage with, so that you start a conversation and cultivate a community. Differentiate yourself from others through your own personal experiences and know-hows. Patrick Armitage, director of marketing for BlogMutt says, “The best stories have a human element. Without a personal connection, a story is just information.”

Creating a personal brand image is by no means easy. It will take time and practice before you are able to effectively communicate your message to your desired audience. However, once you are successfully able to establish your own personal brand image, you’ll be on your way to becoming a leader in your career field.

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