Let me clear something up about branding. It can have a negative connotation in an environment where images are manipulated to fool people. Branding is not “spin”. It is not just a catchy logo or tagline, though those are sometimes appropriate extensions of your brand.
When branding is authentic, it helps you surround yourself with people who get you. More doors of opportunity open up. When your LinkedIn network is filled with people who get you, whatever you want to accomplish is that much easier. When the people you interface with regularly are people with whom you feel a deeper connection, the work takes on a deeper meaning, too, and can even feel like fun a lot more often. These are byproducts of branding that I wish more people understood, especially now when so many people are considering a change, but feeling like they’ll only get more of the same. Branding is a game-changer for greater career fulfillment. It makes you bolder in your actions.
Essentially, your brand is everything that is conjured up and associated with you, your name, and your business, whether that’s a business you own or your profession. This includes images, memories, stories, words, and emotions. Yes, you want your brand to evoke emotions, and it will, whether you are intentional about it or not. Maya Angelou wisely said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
It can be very hard to be objective about what emotions are evoked in others by your brand. People, generally, will be evoked to very different degrees by very different stimuli. That is why effective branding requires you to understand and empathize with your audience. How do you acquire this level of understanding? Well, LinkedIn can really help you here, too. The empathy part, well, that can come from understanding, but ultimately depends on your emotional intelligence to fully stand in your audience’s experience.
Who is your audience? By audience I mean whomever you wish to attract. This could include customers/clients, investors, partners, experts, talent, employers, recruiters, media, etc. Narrowing down your audience is really the key to effective branding, and it’s what most people avoid due to fear of limiting opportunity. It’s really counter-intuitive, but effective branding isn’t about being as marketable to as many audiences as possible. I’m not just talking about using demographics to narrow down your audience. There are many more powerful audience qualities to consider, like what matters most to them? What entices them to act? What kind of people do they allow into their inner circle? What are they really up to in their career and life? What common interests could bond you?
Your brand, at its intentional best, is a bridge between what you offer the world and who will need, want, appreciate, and invest in it. Essentially, the action you seek from your audience is that they invest time, effort, money, relationship capital, or any combination thereof.
A branded LinkedIn profile starts with identifying your unique expression of your top qualities, skills, experiences, mindsets, approaches, and talents and the value that they tend to or can create for your target audience. This is where your understanding of your target audience becomes really important. Many people struggle to understand what to say. Let your audience’s needs drive this. If you still aren’t sure, it’s time to deepen your relationship with your audience, and LinkedIn is one of the best tools for this. You likely have members of your audience already in your network (if you’re not a beginner.) Invite them to talk for a couple of minutes, but not about you – about them. Get familiar with the words that they use to describe their experiences, emotions, and decisions. Ask them what issues they find meaningful, what outcomes they want most, and what makes them decide to take action or not.
Epic Careering has a proprietary process for developing branding points, which are the foundation upon which all of your content and copy is crafted. This process produces a powerful psychological effect on your ideal profile visitor.
- It creates instant resonance, which serves as a strong relationship foundation and rapport accelerator.
- It produces an incremental, sometimes subconscious build-up of excitement at the possible value you can offer.
- It induces a sense of urgency to take action (inviting you to connect).
- It inspires more of the right people to accept YOUR invitation
I have already written an article that goes over the areas of your profile that you need to optimize with branded content to produce these effects, and you can read it here.
As I alluded to earlier, another byproduct of branding is boldness. So many of us have been conditioned to yield attention, praise, accolades, and credit which results in us allowing opportunities to pass us by. Branding helps you embrace your strengths – to own them. In my experience, branding creates seismic shifts in what my clients see as possible. Their whole experience of careering changes from giving the power to employers to having choice and control in where they go from here. Their motivation to pursue opportunities then comes from a sense of duty to offer their massive value.
I’ve noticed that collectively, as we have emerged from solitary lives and integrated back into immersion, we have more of a tendency to be selective about with whom we spend time. In some ways, we have to be careful not to exclude diverse thinking from our networks by surrounding ourselves only with those with whom we agree and relate. Branding, at its best, is not meant to be used to this extreme. On the other hand, spending most of our time with people with whom we feel safe and can be ourselves doesn’t just enhance our experience of life, but creates a sense of safety, acceptance, and room for growth that will help us all step out of survival mode and move toward a life worth living.
Are you ready to be bold? Schedule your free consultation now!
Karen Huller, CEO of Epic Careering, is the co-founder of The Consciousness Conference (ConCon) and the C3: Corporate Consciousness Co-op community on LinkedIn. She is the creator of the Corporate Consciousness Ripple Blueprint and author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days. She founded Epic Careering, a conscious career and leadership development firm specializing in executive branding, talent-values alignment, and conscious culture, in 2006.
While the bulk of Mrs. Huller’s 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. Her solutions incorporate breakthroughs in neuroscience, human performance optimization, bioenergetics, and psychology to help leaders accelerate rapport, expand influence, and elevate engagement and productivity while also looking out for the sustainability of the business and the planet.
Mrs. Huller was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot.
Mrs. Huller was an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business. As an instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy, she has helped two of her students win the 2018 National Competition to be named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs, to win the 2019 People’s Choice Award, and to land in the top 8 during the (virtual) 2020 National Competition.
She serves on the board for the Upper Merion Community Center, which she helped establish, and is an advisor to Florida International University for their Women in Leadership program. For her service as Vice President of the Gulph Elementary PTC, she received recognition as a Public Education Partner and Promoter from the Upper Merion Area Education Association. Mrs. Huller has also been the lead singer for Harpers Ferry, a rock cover band, for 20 years. She lives in King of Prussia, PA with her husband, two daughters, and many pets, furry, feathered, and scaly.