Personal branding has undergone a renaissance in the 21st century. Google the key words “personal branding” and over 59 million results flood your computer. Once a tactic utilized by the ultra famous and wealthy, its search dominance is a testament to its newfound universality in the digital age where anyone can create his or her own brand. The Millennial generation is leading the charge in personal branding, as they shape the way we are now considering life and career.
Social media moguls
Social media is the main tool Millennials are using to reshape the way we think about personal branding. Where personal branding used to be primarily face-to-face, social media has created a 24/7 content machine ripe for marketing. However, it is not traditional marketing that suits social media, but inbound marketing on the smallest scale possible - person to person. It is this personal aspect of social media that lends itself perfectly to personal branding. Platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter allow a user to hone in on very specific aspects of their brand to create a fully developed online personal portfolio.
But why are Millennials so taken by personal branding? If we examine the climate Millennials grew up in, two simple explanations become apparent. First, Millennials were born with some kind of gadget in their hands. Most came of age with social media, and see it as an old friend rather than a new imposter. It is a part of their cultural collective identity - what is the first thing you think of when someone brings up college kids these days? It makes sense that it is part of their personal identity. Secondly, the GFC (Global Financial Crisis) has been a defining event during the life thus far of a Millennial, reinforcing the feeling of economic insecurity. According to the Guardian, Millennials feel more working class than ever before due to stagnant wage growth. To top this off Millennials have an astounding amount of student debt from their college degrees. This means that the importance of securing a job that is both fulfilling and financially rewarding is paramount, and yet increasingly difficult. The question that every candidate is asked in an interview is “Why should we hire you?”. Social media has allowed Millennials to answer that question anytime, anywhere.
It is becoming more important than ever that your personal brand stand out in order for your company brand to attract the attention of the Millennial generation.
How do you brand your personality?
So what is personal branding exactly? Like corporate branding, personal branding is a representation of you on an individual level. The creation of personal branding online comprises crafting a voice, personality, logo, and biography you want to be known for personally and professionally. What you want to avoid is creating a boring and robotic account or an online brand that does not match your real life persona.
And how to do you become successful at it?
The key to success when creating an online persona is to remain dependable, simple and authentic across all of your social profiles. When people want to discover more about you, they may search for you on a number of social platforms. Presenting yourself in a consistent and engaging manner helps you manage their perception of your personal brand and therefore your company brand. If one of your profiles seems out of character to the others you can damage an otherwise faultless reputation.
The Personal Touch
A great example of someone who has leveraged their personal brand to positively impact their business is Zoe Blake Foster, the owner of Go-To Skin Care. Across each platform she is consistent, and the content reflects the witty, fresh image of her company without continuously promoting it directly. Many follow Zoe’s twitter simply because she is clever and relatable. She delivers content that is helpful for her company’s target audience through her personal channels, which in turn raises the profile of her corporate image as an industry expert.
The Company Approach
What this means is that a detailed branding strategy from platform to platform is essential. It also means that the one with the largest marketing budget isn’t necessarily the winner. On social media, the user is king and has the power to filter out any unwanted advertisements. This means small businesses have the opportunity to compete against large brands if they are willing to act creatively and invest in their social media following. This investment is required for both the company brand and the personal branding of the employees. With over 90% of customers trusting information from people they know, it is now more important than ever that the CEO of a company is equally as visible and trusted as the company itself.
“Today, building your personal brand is just as important as building your company's brand -- in fact, it might even be more important. Consumers want to hear the story behind the founders -- the failures, struggles, and the success. This means putting yourself out there and marketing yourself in addition to your business." – Entrepreneur, Jonathon Long
The Millennial generation is the largest in U.S. history, and their buying power will surpass any generation before it within the next decade. For a company to tap into this essential market, marketing departments must realize that Millennials consume just as much personal branding as corporate branding. The two are no longer mutually exclusive, and the most successful businesses moving forward will invest wisely in both.