As you forge into the career space, there can be the challenge of too many possibilities. It can feel like there’s this never-ending well-spring of careers you can pursue - how can you possibly hope to zero in on your niche? If you’re lucky, you might have an idea of the work you’d like, but a lack of specificity might be holding you back from connecting with the right opportunities.
For instance: perhaps you love juggling. But! You really only love juggling flaming batons. And, being a humanitarian, you like juggling pro-bono at retirement communities for senior citizens. Simply juggling bean bags at any old carnival or college campus is a waste of your talents and would stifle your enthusiasm. So how do you best align yourself to access passion projects that utilize your talents for the right target market? You’ll need a personal branding statement.
What is a personal brand statement?
A personal brand statement is a short and snappy summary that quickly illustrates what your unique selling proposition is, who benefits from your services, and the results your clients will see if they choose to work with you. It’s a tagline to pitch yourself. Oprah, Taylor Swift, and Quinten Tarantino all have brands that draw a particular crowd to them; a promise of unique offerings and a manner in which they provide them. Your business can also benefit from this concept.
It is not the same as a bio, which can be a meandering personal narrative. It's also not a job title, which lacks the personal flavor of your goals and values. This is your career- do you really feel like ‘digital marketer’ or ‘hairdresser’ says all there is about you? A brand statement is designed for making an impact. It’s 1-2 sentences that will set a north star and guide your activities and provide your clients with an image of consistency. It’ll also help set you apart from your competition, highlighting what makes you unique.
Creating a personal branding statement
Just because your statement needs to be 1-2 sentences, it doesn’t mean it’ll be easy to formulate. It is not something you can vaguely commit to, and it needs to be entirely authentic and personal to you. Don’t just spin something you think clients want to hear; it needs to resonate with you. If it doesn’t, it will come across as disingenuous and THAT will be your brand.
So let’s break it down into parts. What are the components that go into your statement?
1. What is your passion or expertise?
What is the heart of the work you do? Pretend you are explaining it to a child. You wouldn’t paint them a full picture, you’d give them a quick snapshot.
These general phrases are fantastic launching points. The more specific your verb, the better. Keep in mind, all of these are action phrases. You don’t want to sound passive in your statement, you’re going to take action on their behalf and you want to sound dynamic.
2. What are your strengths and features that you have?
This segment requires a bit of introspection on your part. If you had to describe yourself in 3 words, which ones stand out? These descriptors should apply to your abilities in solving a client's problem. For the more humble amongst us, it may serve you to ask colleagues or friends for adjectives. If you’re already working with clients, look into reviews and feedback to get a clear idea from those who have experienced your work directly.
3. Who is your target market?
Your actions do not function within a vacuum- who is the other player in this equation? Families, young professionals, customers, entrepreneurs… there’s a specific group of people you want to help and they need to be recognized in your personal brand statement. Your product may be more generalized, and in those instances, you can feel free to use general terms. But again, the more specific the better. If you can narrow it down to something like “Outdoor Outfitters in Colorado,” you can truly target your market.
4. What sort of impact do you want?
What’s going to actually happen if a client invests in you? What is the promise you’re going to deliver on? Confidently illustrate the results you’re able to offer.
Examples of a strong personal brand
So putting these together, what are some examples of good branding statements?
Let’s say you’re a nutritionist who caters to people with health problems:
“I develop personalized dietary plans for patients with health issues so they can feel better and reduce their symptoms.”
We see a component that leads to your personal success in pursuing your work (personalized dietary plans), your target group (patients with health issues), and the impact your business will have on them (they can feel better and reduce their symptoms).
Perhaps you're a digital marketer who works with cities to improve their tourism.
“I cultivate an engaging online presence for cities to increase awareness amongst travelers and bring in tourism revenue.”
Again, we see a specific action (cultivating an online presence), a descriptor of your services (engaging), it’s target demographic (cities), and the impact (increase awareness amongst travelers and bring in tourism revenue).
Finally, let’s imagine you’re a content developer who works with small businesses in San Diego to get their websites up and running.
“I work with San Diego small businesses to build up their website content so that they can confidently launch their online presence.”
Again, the format has been ordered differently, but we are still addressing all the necessary components.
Now that you understand the importance of your brand and have the tools to formulate your personal brand statement- where do you put it? Feature it proudly on your LinkedIn, business cards, email signatures, or your resume! This will show clients that you’re self-aware and confident about how you can help them solve their problems. Keep in mind: as you’re always growing and changing, you should revisit your brand statement every year to see if it still serves you or if it needs to be redirected to achieve your goals.