2018 was the year of influencers. As we embark on a new year, personal branding is slated as one of the best ways in generating marketability and growth in both your career and personal network. With the growth of micro-influencers and celebrity brand ambassadors, we reflect on some of the most impactful campaigns that have disrupted the status quo. If you're debating whether launching (or revamping) your personal brand is right for you, we're sharing our top tips for personal branding in 2019.
The design community has been abuzz with news of "blanding" labeled as the hottest and worst branding trend in 2018. With brands looking into clean typography, bold colors, and isometric illustrations, branding has become all too predictable (in our opinion). Branding has lost the essence of the core values - to evoke personality, emotion, bring conversation to the table. There are some designers that focus on the aesthetics whereas other focus more of the user experience and marketability. The latter of the two seem to be more prevalent in today's branding trends. Brands are blending in to each other and we're missing the spark with funky fonts, unusual color palettes, and bold interactions. Brands need to be visually intriguing. Similarly, so too should be the trends in personal branding.
"Don't be perfect, it's more relatable." - Marilyn Hue
Celebrity photography and creative lead for Skrillex, Marilyn Hue, summarizes the art of being perfectly imperfect. By focusing on the flaws (aka realness) in relating to your audience, Hue's work with famous brands like Adidas, Forever 21 and Hypebeast has been noted as conversation starters and has been praised and criticized by varying audiences.
"People do the bath mat scoot when the butler forgets to put the towel next to the tub." - Ellen Degeneres
Ellen Degeneres' Netflix special, Relatable, focuses on her personal brand and the concept that no matter how famous she is, she'll still be relatable based on the human traits she shares with her audience. She's made $294,000 per minute for her special - and still knows how to keep it real. Degeneres has become a comedy extraordinaire by relating to her audience. We all seem to share in her material no matter our societal status, gender or location.
There are a majority of brands that remain neutral (or silent) in their political or culture views. There's nothing that particular that stands out about them. They go with the flow and take a back seat when faced to take a side. The year of 2018 distanced itself from this notion with the rise of strong affirmations by personal brands. Colin Kaepernick's face used in Nike's campaign, which sparked controversy among NFL supporters and Nike consumers, was strategically planned and smart. In his act of protest in kneeling during the national anthem, Kaepernick embraced controversy wisely - and people took notice.
This, however, contrasted greatly from Pepsi's ad. With a goal of bringing sides together during a time of protest, Pepsi partnered with Kendell Jenner likely because of her personal brand and millennial followers. Unlike Kaepernick's involvement with Nike, Jenner's partnership with Pepsi drove controversy (more negative, in fact) where social media became filled with criticisms claiming the ad was distasteful. Jenner's background, as a white woman from an influential family, immediately questioned her authenticity in taking a stance on the issue. So what's the lesson learned? If you're going to take a stance, be real and do it wisely.
Adam Smiley Poswolsky, acclaimed author of The Breakthrough Speaker and a millennial workplace expert, describes the importance in bringing a focus to your personal brand.
"Carve a niche, and then carve a niche within your niche. The best personal brands are very specific." - Adam Smiley Poswolsky
Do your research and see what people are talking about in your industry. Know all the buzzwords and attend some of the more popular conferences or events of the year. Think about the unique value proposition that you're offering and how you're going to differentiate yourself from others. Rome wasn't built in a day (neither was Uber or Facebook). Be open to change. Your personal brand will evolve throughout the year. As long as you maintain your focus and niche as an expert in your field, you'll be able to draw a more targeted audience.
And if you haven't reached the level where you'd like your personal brand to be at, take the next month to reflect on who you'd like to be known as in the upcoming year. Tom Ford, world-famous fashion designer and highly praised by both men and women, has notably mentioned the importance of dressing the part. Titled Project Upgrade, Ford's partnership with GQ encompassed his mission in bringing a level of accessibility and esteem to dress the part that you seek to be in - in the next 3-5 years.
So in 2019, carve out a niche that you plan on dominating. If you're going to be known as an expert, what you are going to be known for? What do you want people to come to you for? Don't fall victim to the current state of "blanding." Use your expertise, personality, and industry knowledge to capture your audience. Dress the part. Speak the part. And if you need help with your brand, we're here to help. Share your goals for 2019 and I'll give you my best recommendations on how I can help elevate your personal brand.