February 27, 2014

Why You Should Care (A lot) about having a “personal brand”

I’ve been banging on about this “personal brand” thing for a while now – as I’m sure a lot of other people have. It is something that I think more people should care about, especially those trying to navigate their way in a competitive jobs market en route for “the dream job”. It just means that you are consciously managing your reputation through an element of branding so that you have a bit more control and people find it easier to identify with you as a person. And I’m not just talking about having a LinkedIn profile here, people.

For example: Virgin is the brand, Richard Branson is the “personal brand”. The brand behind the brand. #mindboggles

GOOD personal brand:
Richard Branson (Founder of Virgin Group) Nice guy. Trustworthy. Cool. Likeable.

BAD personal brand:
Michael O’Leary (CEO of RyanAir) Money-obsessed. Meanie. Bad press. Not likeable. Not as successful as Richard Branson.

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What exactly is a “personal brand” any way and why should you care? Well, according to Wikipedia, it is defined as this: 

Personal branding is the practice of people marketing themselves and their careers as brands. Personal branding also involves creating an asset by defining an individual’s bodyclothingphysical appearance, digital and online presence and areas of knowledge in a way leading to a uniquely distinguishable, and ideally memorable, impression.

Someone who I think has this personal branding thing down to a tee, is Zoe Hellewell aka the voice and fashionista behind The London Lipgloss which has now been rebranded as Zoe LDN. Zoe is an amazing example of someone who crafted a strong tone and identity through her online voice, strong views and distinct aesthetics. She has taken an Internet connection and a keyboard and curated her own online world that she shares with her audience of thousands who religiously follow her updates on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and of course her blog itself.

A really interesting thing about Zoe is she also took a bit of a reality check at the end of last year and asked herself whether her blog was still current and also whether she was being true to passions – she decided to branch out from being a “beauty blogger” and has now redefined herself as a lifestyle blogger and DJ. As we can all see she is so much more than just a blogger who would receive some free make up, she’s gone from strength to strength to find who she is in different areas of lifestyle media (and vlogging) and has some awesome opportunities off the back of it. I’ve always been interesting in rebranding – like that time when Gap changed it’s logo and everyone hated it *gasp* – but that’s just a logo. To rebrand yourself is actually a pretty tricky scenario which must be dealt with careful consideration. Victoria Beckham did the seemingly impossible: to go from a cheesy teenage pop star to one of the most well-respected fashion designers. 

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The reason I use Zoe’s rebranding exercise as an example of a successful “personal brand” is that she has taken the time to really own her brand and understand all the little details about why people should visit her blog over others. Blogs are in an increasingly crowded environment just like product brands are. If one blog is AquaFresh, another is Colgate, and another one with a more niche following is Sensodyne. So how do you distinguish between them and follow the right personal brand behind the blog when they could all potentially be offering the same content?

Zoe has now pretty much launched her own magazine through Zoe LDN which is highly impressive for someone in her 20’s who is pretty much her own art director, writer, editor, photographer and videographer and much more. She’s kept it simple but also used her new layout to talk about the different things that she’s interested in through her new “content pillars” are fashion, music, lifestyle, beauty, travel and videos. The new launch of Zoe LDN shows dedication, inspiration, motivation and a real creative talent. 

I’ve always recommended starting a blog, to anyone and everyone. And for people that kind of turn their nose up at the word “blog” (there are many) it doesn’t have to be a so-called “blog”. It could just be an online space with your CV and a few sentences about who you are and what you do. Paper CV’s are dead, and if you have a website or something to show who YOU are it’s definitely worth doing, to show off your skillz. xox

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