Throughout my academic and professional journey, I have developed my passion for marketing. During my semester in France, I learned how the top luxury brands create their image. In my career, I have managed marketing campaigns for Shell across Canada and the US. Today, I work with my favourite brands such as Lululemon, Uniqlo, Mejuri, and Revlon to promote their brands through my blog.
Working with brands every day, I have learned the importance of the most important brand: my personal brand. Your personal brand is who you are, what you represent, and the value you bring.
Exchange in Nice, France
Influencing LuluLemon Influencing Princess Poly
Through my journey, I share how to develop your personal brand, communicate it, and grow with it.
Before we begin, I want to recap some marketing fundamentals since branding is about marketing yourself:
A brand communicates qualities that uphold consistently
A brand is what sets a company/product/service apart from others
A brand cannot be everything for everyone
In the wise words of Drake, it’s important to know yourself and know your worth.
In a personal branding exercise, I was asked to list the qualities I wanted to be known for which can range from:
-technical skills: programming, data analytics, social media management, project management
-soft skills: critical thinking, time management, teamwork
-personal qualities: kind, direct, strong
By having a clear vision of who you want to be and what you represent, it becomes your guiding light in how you present yourself.
If you would like to take this a step further, another activity is to personally ask people in your network how they would describe you (in 3 words, your top skills - you can define this). I have asked people across the spectrum of close friends to acquaintances to see how consistent their responses are.
After I collected my answers, I reviewed to see how many of those responses lined up with what I wanted to be known for. If they were close, I knew I was on the right track and the next thing would be to develop my story. If there was misalignment, for example: if I was known for being an analytics person but wanted to be viewed as more creative, I would identify how I could alter that through the work I did, how I communicated, or perhaps the education I had.
Answering the question “can you tell me about yourself?” and introducing yourself is a great opportunity to share your brand and reinforce the image you want to have in any setting.
Depending on the setting and level of familiarity I have with my audience, I adjust my story so that the most important components of my brand are conveyed.
For example, if I’m in the elevator with a senior leader at the company I just joined, I would share my role and what challenge I am excited to solve. This would indirectly communicate my technical skills and the problem I am trying to solve during the short elevator ride.
In another scenario where I am having a coffee chat with a prospective employer, I would start with my educational and professional background, then share my accomplishments and passions for my future career. In this setting, I would have the time to add more colour to validate my competency and also determine whether there is a fit between me and the company.
Living Your Brand
Once you have identified who you are and how you share your story, the rest of the beauty of your brand is living it every day. When you consistently show up and live the qualities of the person you want to be, your brand often speaks for itself.
Another thing to remember is that brands evolve over time. McDonald’s used to be the poster child for “Supersize Me” and the image of greasy fast food. Today, it has entered the cafe market as a competitive player. Abercrombie & Fitch used to be known as superficial, but today has pivoted to be more size-inclusive.
Similarly, as your skills, interests, and passions change, your brand can too. The beauty of creating your personal brand is that it changes as you do, and you can use it to communicate what you want not only in your career, but in your relationships and in life. You are the main character and the author and you can choose what your story and what your brand is.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Melody Woo, CAPM graduated from the Smith School of Business in 2017 with first class distinction. She embarked on a diverse career path with experience in the finance, energy, and retail fashion industries. Today she is a project management professional and resides in Vancouver, BC. During her 5-9, she is a fashion blogger, marathon runner, and motivational mentor.
She is passionate about using her voice to inspire others to achieve their goals on her social media channels, speaking engagements at universities across Canada, and through 1:1 mentorship - and is dedicated to leaving a lasting legacy that uplifts her community.