Personal Brand Control
Abbey Mann, Temple University Student and Former NIIC Concierge
I hear my peers talking a lot about who is fake and who is real. We millennials have an obsession with authenticity- it’s a side effect of growing up on the Internet, where we have learned to be constantly cautious and on the lookout for fake people, fake links, fake news, etc. Because of this, many of us seem to shy away from the ideas of brand control in an effort to stay authentic. Yet, many of us seem to take it too far and become something that never fully seems true. We all know someone who overshares on Facebook and someone who holds so tightly to their Instagram aesthetic that even the “candids” are staged.
Wherever you personally fall on this scale, it’s your brand. It’s how you are choosing to present yourself, your brand, your story to the world. Offline this often means how we dress and how we behave- while our causality in dress may shift from day to day (yoga pants on the weekend, business casual at work, little black dresses [LBD’s] on the weekend, etc.), we all have a unique style that is us. For example, all of my outfits are black. Online this means the type of content we share, the posts we write, the filters or fonts we use, etc.
As Jacques so duly noted in As You Like It (it’s a play by William Shakespeare, you uncultured swine), “All the world’s a stage.” We are constantly performing, whether we realize it or not. Once we realize that everything we do is a presentation, which will be observed (and judged) by others, we can better control how people perceive us: we can control our brand.
Now I can already hear your protests, “but that makes you fake!” You probably cuss a lot more around your friends than you do around your grandmother. You probably dress nicer on a first date or a job interview than you do when you’re playing video games alone in your room. You probably behave differently at a funeral than you would at a party. These are all examples of how you’re controlling how you’re perceived by other people. Does that make you fake? No, it means that you’re self-aware and in charge of yourself and your image. That’s a very good thing.
To take charge of your brand, you almost need to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset: You are the entrepreneur, the creator, the CEO, the salesman, the marketing team and everything else of your product- which is you. Think of taking good care of your brand like treating yourself, because you deserve it. Don’t you deserve to have a good brand? Of course you do, treat yourself.
Brand control isn’t about self-promotion, though it can definitely do that when needed, and it’s not about keeping up appearances or being fake. It’s about telling your story, sharing your knowledge, establishing your individuality and being who you want to be. Don’t like how you’re being perceived? You have the power to change that. Want to express your thoughts and emotions? Do it. That’s brand control.
If you’re still unsure of how this relates to your social media, let me give you an example of how you can (or maybe already are) controlling your brand online.
All of your shares, likes, posts, tags, Tweets, pins, Instas, and everything else you say and do is part of your brand. You probably have some consistency between them even if you’re not trying to. I bet you only share one party’s political views on Facebook- that’s a consistency to your brand: part of who you are and who you are choosing to present the world. That’s just one small aspect of your brand though. Better ways to think of this and accomplish brand control is to keep consistency in all things- at least consistency in a single platform, if not across all platforms.
Blogs that use a single font for every post, Instagrams that use similar colors frequently, Tumblrs/Pinterests that have common content, and Facebook/LinkedIns that have a connection in Ops (original posts) are all better social media profiles than ones that have no common thread. Consistency is key. You are always yourself- your brand should clearly state who you are, what you are, what you like, what you believe in no matter what website I click on.
If you’re still not convinced, think about this: potential employers can (and probably will) do a Google search on you. What will they find there? Someone who knows the reality that what they post online has a consequence on how they are perceived? Or someone who is inconsistent and unreliable? Someone who communicates their ideas well and uses social media effectively? Or someone who doesn’t? Will you be recognizable? Will you be memorable?
It’s also interesting to note that having a brand won’t just help you get a job, it will help you perform at your job. Branding promotes consistency, ownership, and individuality, which in turn promotes creativity, initiative, and responsibility. Companies that fully embrace differences and encourage individuality and identities thrive more than those who don’t. Total acceptance and equality among people of all brands (and religions, races, ethnicities, genders, orientations, etc.), promotes a culture of innovation and creativity. What good is thinking outside the box if we’re all in the same box?
Keeping your brand is the same principle as keeping to a code or creed. You’re aligning yourselves with your goals, with how you want to be perceived, with how you want to be, and keeping to that is putting yourself first- do not compare yourself, your brand, your morals, or your ethics- it’s not worth it. Having a good, consistent brand is worth it.
What’s your brand?