You don’t have to be a business owner for a brand strategy to be important. You can be a hairstylist, a bartender, a software developer, or any other employee trying to advance your career; brand strategy is an important piece of the puzzle. Your personal brand is what keeps clients coming back, attracts new customers, builds job security, and turns you into a resource that companies like to cultivate.
Don’t be intimidated if this is all new to you. There are plenty of resources online to help you build a personal brand, and performing a simple internet search is a good way to get started. But what should you do once you master the basics? Here’s a glimpse at how to get better at brand strategy.
Don’t be ashamed to walk up to the cash register at your local bookstore with a bright yellow copy of Personal Branding for Dummies under your arm. Books are a good friend to the ambitious, and it might be a great idea to get used to reading books about subjects that interest you and that might have a positive influence on your career. Beyond the aforementioned Dummies book, the scope of books on branding are wide, ranging from practical advice on using LinkedIn to theory on how to stand out. Don’t just stop at personal branding books; you can learn a lot to help you in your career path by reading books about corporate branding, starting with a classic like Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, first published in 1980.
Go Back to School
The classroom isn’t for every career path, but pursuing advanced instruction at a product design school, for example, will do more than strengthen your resume: it can help sharpen your strategic thought process, too. And you may also find something you’re passionate about and launch a new career in the process. However, this is not to say that you are in need of a new career. An educated bartender, hairstylist, or machinist is one that brings more than just the obvious training and skills to the job. To use the example of the machinist: The one who has a “big picture” understanding of the production of which she is a part will probably be a more thoughtful employee overall.
Mentors can supplement books and classroom study, helping you turn theory into practice. A mentor need not be a formal apprenticeship, although that is certainly one way to go about it. A mentor can simply be someone you look up to, someone with more experience than you. You don’t even have to call them your mentor. There’s the old saying about hanging out with the people you want to be like, and it’s true. Surround yourself with people who have succeeded at the things you want to succeed at yourself, and you’ll be a leg up on your branding strategy.
This isn’t a suggestion that you go out and spend money left and right, but if you want to get better at branding strategy, you’ll want to be aware of what is in the marketplace. Ogle products. Pick the packaging up and hold it. Learn what is behind the branding strategy of successful (and not so successful) brands. Figure out how you can apply those principles into your professional life.
One of the ways to get better at branding is to become a volunteer. When you give of your time, you often find yourself surrounded by other people who are a positive influence. These are people who find joy in helping others, and you can learn a lot from absorbing their company.