Why Personal Branding Is Important, & How You Can Get Started

As a college student, I can’t tell you how many times I have heard the words “personal branding.” It seems to be a topic of discussion that never escapes from earshot. Maybe you’re in class waiting for the period to begin, and a couple of students are talking about how they’re revamping their LinkedIn or starting their own website from scratch. Or maybe you’re in line to grab a cup of coffee before class when you overhear people talking about how they just handed out some business cards to companies they want to snag an internship with.

It can feel like everyone around you is on top of their game, but I am here to tell you that personal branding does not have to be this scary, just-out-of-reach thing. In fact, it can be rather fun — or is that just me?

There is always a question attached to personal branding, and no, it’s not “what do you want to be when you grow up?” Instead, it’s a little more personal. (See what I did there?)

So, here goes the arguably worst question you ever want to hear on any given day: “Who are you?”

It can be hard to answer this age-old question. I mean, when do we really have a concrete response to that? As an individual with changing dreams and goals, I believe the answer is in constant fluctuation, always in motion. We don’t just reach a level of accomplishment and stop there — we continue to hustle and pursue larger ambitions. So, it’s okay if your answer to the question varies or is completely different each time you answer it. Your personal brand is fluid, but it’s a great idea to get started on sharing that journey, and thus create your brand.

I want to clarify that when I say personal branding, I am not referring to you starting a business per se but rather using resources around you to get your name and accomplishments out there. Now, why would you even go through the mission of putting your name and work out there? Well, it can be very rewarding. Whether you’re trying to create a professional platform to promote your business idea or just branding your personal accomplishments, these next tips should help clear it up just a bit.

Document, document, document

I recently attended a presentation by Isabella Silverio, a.k.a Guava Girl. If you haven’t heard of her or her business story, then I definitely recommend checking her out. She is refreshingly honest and a complete personal branding aficionado. At the presentation, Isabella shared some of her tips, which cater more towards individuals with online businesses but can also be applied to those who just want to level up their online presence and put their name out there.

Isabella emphasized that it is all about documenting. You’re most likely on several social media platforms, so this tip shouldn’t be too difficult to implement. Documenting can mean setting up your LinkedIn account and making sure to constantly update as new experiences and opportunities occur. Or it can mean being active on social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

I personally enjoy curating a certain look when it comes to my Instagram feed; It’s a way for me to express myself creatively while building the brand I want associated with my name. I document my publications and involvements through traditional Instagram posts, Instagram stories, Tweets and Facebook posts.

I also have my own website where I share my professional journey and blog a bit to show people what I am all about. I am not as good at remembering to update my LinkedIn, but I recently refreshed that platform and have made it a goal to update it constantly.

When it comes to personal branding, it’s all about actually building your brand through sharing and documenting the things that communicate your goals and passions.

Find the platform(s) to share your brand

Now that you know you have to put in a little effort and actually document your journey, you will want to figure where you’re going to document all of your amazing experiences. Like I mentioned before, I focus mostly on social media posts and my website.

Although I must say, I prioritize Instagram above other social media platforms because I get the best of both worlds: I can be creative with my posts and share stories for immediate updates. Some people strictly use Instagram, while others may focus heavily on posting on Twitter or Facebook. Whichever method you choose, make sure to be consistent in order to build your brand. Find the niche where you think your personal brand can grow and prosper best.

I think crafting a personal website is a great way to really hone in on the essence of your personal brand. A website can be customized to fit your style while being the one stop for all things you. And don’t feel discouraged if you feel as though your brand-building process is not going as well as you hoped. I recently redesigned my website, and it took me months to be satisfied with the way it looked.

I know it can be strange at first to start changing your social media profiles to something cleaner where you share your accomplishments, but it does get easier and less uncomfortable. I used to feel awkward posting about my new articles or opportunities, but now I appreciate the fact that I have my own space to do just that. Just own it!

Be cohesive and consistent

Once you’re ready to document your brand and have decided which methods are best for you, it’s time to be set to the test. And by test, I mean you need to hold yourself accountable for being consistent and cohesive.

Being consistent across all platforms you use is important to maintain your brand while expressing your dedication to your passions and goals. Consistency comes into play because your personal brand should have the same “look” in every platform. For example, I tend to stick to neutral tones, and that has translated into my website and Instagram profile. And no, it’s not about your color story, but it does have an effect on the overall cohesion of your personal brand.

I may not be great at updating my blog regularly, but I do make an effort to share my newest articles each week and make sure the brand I am expressing is the image that truly represents me. So, ease yourself into the idea of expressing what makes you amazing and sharing it with others.

Personal branding comes in many forms, and it’s important for you to figure out the grooves you want to create in this world –– it’s a digital world out there, so take advantage of the online landscape waiting for you to make a mark on it.

In a Refinery29 article, Ally Hickson said it best: “If you don't shape your narrative, someone is going to build one for you, based on bits and pieces of information that they glimpse from your Facebook posts and tweets.”

Take control of your narrative.