The 10 Pillars of Personal Branding: College Edition

“What is my personal brand? What is my image? How do I want to be viewed? How do I view myself?”

Those are questions we should be asking ourselves before we do anything that relates to the way that we present ourselves. Whether it be electronically, interpersonally, or to a complete stranger, your personal brand is very important. It defines what people see and how you see yourself, which is the most significant part of personal branding.

You may be confused as to how to define your personal brand, so I am here to help. Often times, college students do not think about the importance of the way they present themselves. From a bad decision at a party to a private picture that happened to go public, we need to be mindful of what we do and the atmosphere in which we do it. As someone that has a basic level of understanding in personal branding and a background in mastering one’s image with the help of my internship experience, academic diligence, and extracurriculars, I hope the following tips can be of help to you.

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Here are the 10 Pillars of Personal Branding: College Edition:

  1. YOU = THE BRAND | You are what you are trying to market, you are the brand. The best way to attack personal branding is by seeing yourself as the product (not a literal product). This way you can inform others about your image with the full amount of passion that you possess in yourself and your abilities.

  2. Assess who you are | Who are you? What makes you? Take some time and write down all of the things that make you yourself. You can use experiences, academics, skills/talents, hobbies, interests, etc.

  3. Contemplate how you want to be perceived | When people look up your name what do you want to pop up? That is in your control. You have the capacity and ability to decide what other people can see about you online as well as what people know about you intimately. Analyze what this means to you and your image.

  4. Groom your social media and online presence |Unfollow unimpactful/ghost accounts, archive old pictures on your Instagram, upload new content, and anything else that can potentially characterize your how your reputation. This can be a very tedious process, especially if you have a larger social media/online presence, but it definitely makes all the difference in this day and age.

  5. Define your brand’s purpose | What do you want to represent? This is subjective to the industry/product/expertise that you are sharing. Once you define this, you can make several strides in expanding your brand and collaborating with other brands.

  6. Distinguish your brand from others | What makes you different from people in your industry? Find something that makes you stand out amongst the many brands available to the public.

  7. Make a portfolio or website | Display your craft using the resources you have access to. For example, if you are an art student that wants to start selling your work online, make sure you have a solid collection of material to showcase. This is a great way to benefit from the value of your brand.

  8. Start now/Get involved | You can begin your personal brand RIGHT NOW. Start with the extracurriculars and community service available to you at your school. This way you can gain credibility for your craft and practice your passion/interest.

  9. Build your network | Nothing can be done alone. We all need help sometimes. It is so important to build a network of brands that are similar/dissimilar to your purpose. This way you can help each other with necessary information, provide mutual connections/contacts, and collaborate.

  10. Invest in yourself | Lastly, as the brand, you should put into your brand what you want to get from it. If you need any training, specific course experience, or software, make sure you get so that you're equipped to start your personal brand. Save money (if it costs) and get the resources you need to perform in the best way possible.

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This can be a lot to think about as a college student with an array of stresses and responsibilities, but once you implement a foundation in branding yourself to your repertoire, it becomes natural. Your potential employers will see you as more than just a resume of credentials. You will have the online presence and branding skills necessary to set yourself up for success.

Personal branding can be the starting point of your entrepreneurial career as well. The motivation and patience necessary in curating your image are what drives a multitude of entrepreneurs in a variety of industries. In essence, I am saying that if you haven’t already, take the first step in branding yourself. There will be no stopping you after that.