You may have heard the term “branding” or “brand statement” tossed around in business books or articles before. You may have glossed over it, because why would you as an employee of another company need one. Or, you might think that branding just means a logo and the colors a company uses on their website. But, branding actually encompasses a whole lot more than just a logo, and it can be immensely useful for you personally as well.
That’s right. You can create a branding statement for yourself that helps potential employers understand what you’re all about. Or, as a freelancer, your personal brand statement can help you stand out from the crowd and highlight your unique skill set for your clients.
What’s a brand statement and why do you need one?
A brand statement is a short, one or two sentence summary of what you do, how you do it, and what makes the way you do it unique. Big companies use them all the time to help customers quickly understand what they’re about. They aren’t just reserved for companies or big name celebrities, anymore. Why shouldn’t you have a catchy phrase that makes your resume stand out in a pile? News flash, you should! Whether you’re job hunting, or working as a freelancer, a personal brand statement can quickly communicate what makes you a great hire. It can make networking easy by giving you a snappy intro. Never stumble over a long-winded description of your job and career history again! Instead, you’ll have a concise and unique statement that will leave an impression, and lead to a more engaged and in depth discussion.
How to write a personal brand statement
Sold? Let’s dive in. We’re going to steal a little from business theory here, because they were the ones writing branding statements first. You want to focus on your Unique Selling Proposition, or the thing that makes you stand out from the crowd and the best at what you do. Just follow these steps to write your personal branding statement:
Just start with a free form list. We are going to narrow it down later on. List all your strengths, areas you have a lot of experience, or even just personal qualities you like.
You may have a favorite job you worked in the past, or perhaps a client that you love doing your freelance work for. What do those people or companies have in common, and what work did you do for them that made you feel valued and fulfilled?
To continue our web developer example, you might really like doing the front end development for sites that have a bigger humanitarian goal in mind, rather than just another run of the mill blog.
Start eavesdropping at networking events or browsing the LinkedIn profiles of people like you, and see what they are saying so you can come up with something totally different.
Once you start observing, you’ll find that there is a typical pattern to the way people talk in your industry when they describe what they do, and you want to make sure you’re saying something different.
Now that you have looked at your competition, go back to your list on #1 and pull out things from that list that make you unique from other people who work in your field.
For our web developer, it could be that they’ve done a lot of work in a language that not many others have, or have a more specialized skill set in one aspect of websites that they didn’t realize they had.
We’re going to look back at step #2 now, and figure out who you want to hire you. Now that you’ve thought about it all a little more, you might be more comfortable saying “I want to specialize in working with humanitarian brands.” It can take time, and working through steps #1, #2, and #3 a few times before you have an aha moment.
It also doesn’t have to be too complicated. It can just be as simple as a specific age group or industry.
Now, you’re ready to actually draft some options for your personal brand statement. You’re going start your sentence with your answer to #4, “I do x” Then, you’re going to add your answer to #5 by saying “I do x for y.”
It’s totally normal at this stage for your statement to be pretty simple. For our web developer example, it’s going to read “I do front end design for companies who have humanitarian goals.” Not super inspiring, but we have the core content we need to build a great statement from there.
Sometimes it’s best to sit with the phrase that you created in step #6 before you move on. Variations of it will come to you, and you may find better ways of saying what you do. Keep it simple, too. Don’t get lost in technical terms. If you are using words that are too unique to your niche, try and generalize them to make sure people outside of your field understand it.
In our example, “front end design” isn’t particularly inspiring, and it’s an industry specific term. Instead, we could say they “make beautiful websites.” The second half of the phrase could be snappier too, like, “I make beautiful websites for companies with a cause.” Much better.
This last step is a little more intangible, and in some cases comes with time and using your branding statement in different situations to get a feel for it. But, your goal is to add a call to action, challenge, or a little bit of mystery to your statement. You want people to ask you more about what you do, or take a specific action (like hiring you) because of this little snippet.
You’ll see more of this in some of the examples of personal branding statements we’ve gathered from around the internet in the next section.
Where to put your personal brand statement
Now you have one, what do you do with it? Since it is short and easy to understand, it’s great to use in your social media profiles like LinkedIn or Twitter bios where future employers might see you. It can make your resume stand out from the pile, so add it to the top near your name. If you have an online portfolio, it works great as a tagline there, too. As you get used to using it, you may find it helpful to use variations on different social media platforms. It’s not a job title, or a job description. Save it for places where you need to summarize and quickly emphasize your expertise.
Examples of great personal brand statements
“Brand designer for wonderful companies” – Jessica Jones
We love it for it’s simplicity. The first part of the phrase differentiates by specifying that she does full branding and design, not just logos. Using the adjective “wonderful” reflects Jessica’s warm personality, also obvious in the fun colors on her site.
“You don’t blend in, we make it obvious. Merciless one-liners, conversational copy, and creative biz strategy.” – Jessica Manuszack of Verve & Vigour
Of course a copywriter is going to have an amazing branding statement. If they didn’t you might worry about hiring them. Jessica gets her personality across, and covers exactly what services she offers in this two sentence brand statement with attitude.
“Everyday I wake up with one goal in mind – ‘How can I help other people travel better for less?’ It’s my mission to help travelers like you realize your travel dreams.” – Matt Kepnes
Matt’s statement shows his enthusiasm for travel, and non-stop desire helping others achieve their dreams.
“Saving the world from bad content. B2B content strategy that’s built for humans, generates qualified leads, and scales over time.” – Aaron Orendorff
Aaron not only grabs your attention with his awesome one-liner, but then demonstrates his expertise with field-relevant examples of what he does. It’s a whole resume in just two lines.
“I write about big ideas and give life advice that doesn’t suck. My work has been described as a new genre of self help–it’s based on solid science, pragmatic applications, and a bit of old fashioned ‘go f*ck yourself.’” – Mark Manson
Mark’s brand statement gives you a good warning of what you’re getting into in his books. He tells you the genre he writes for, his frank style, and alienates those who aren’t looking for liberal profanity.
Examples of great personal brand statements
Hopefully, you’re now excited to go dive into your own personal branding statement because you’ve seen how useful they can be, and where they can help skyrocket your career. Make sure to keep it simple, snappy, and authentically you.