When I first moved to Los Angeles at the age of 19 to pursue my career as an on-air entertainment journalist, I printed out hundreds of business cards with my headshot on the back. Since the field I wanted to pursue didn’t come with a blueprint, I was determined to get a jump-start while still in undergrad.
After getting turned down by virtually every single major network due to the fact that I was too “green” – an industry term for inexperience, I was forced to make a decision – to either quit or create opportunities for myself where I could get better on-camera. And you know your girl is not a quitter!
I saved up just enough to purchase a handheld camera and a karaoke mic (because, well, real ones were triple the price). I launched a pop culture blog in 2010 and interviewed everyone I could get my hands on. I wasn’t thinking about building a brand at the time. I just wanted to create an avenue where I could showcase my work. I remember getting invited to my first red carpet premiere. The publicists placed me dead last on the carpet… so far in the back that each time the door opened, it would knock down my tripod. I would hop over the velvet rope to get the celebrity’s attention, then hop back to hit Record. No, I didn’t have a budget for a camera operator. I was my own team.
Although a few seasoned journalists were amused by my spirit, there were many others whom just straight up laughed at me. “Poor thing shooting herself,” they’d say. “Why is she doing this?” When Instagram launched in 2011 and I started posting my red carpet looks, the comments turned to “why does she always take photos of herself? Does she think she’s famous?”
They sure stopped laughing when I was approached by the Associated Press to anchor the Oscars and Grammys live for a global audience. They were definitely not laughing when I became a global ambassador for Harper’s Bazaar, Verizon, and spoke at ivy leagues like Yale.
While they were working for a paycheck, I was creating opportunities to build my brand. While they grew complacent working for a major network, the explosion of social media platforms like Youtube, Instagram, and Twitter and more were about to change everything. Entertainment news shows come and go. The brand I created has allowed me to reach a global audience and diversify my portfolio across multiple industries.
YES! Building a brand is more valuable than getting paid from a single job because on the long-run, you’ll generate a lot more. And there is no better time than now to start building your brand from scratch.
We are currently experiencing a digital revolution – an era where 9-5 economies of past years have been replaced with globally integrated 24/7 service offerings. Today, more and more people are coming around to the idea of creating a lifestyle that benefits our careers, but is not dictated by them; to the balance between work and travel; to the idea of working from anywhere we want.
I’m a firm believer that no matter which industry you work in, no matter what your current employment is, you can’t afford to not build a brand. Because if you don’t, your competitors will.
WHAT IS YOUR STORY
If you’re thinking of building a brand but don’t know where to start, below are a few strategies to help you get started.
Whether you are thinking about launching a personal brand or a business brand, every single brand has a story. Your story is important to more than just yourself. It resonates with your employees and with customers, cultivating a community of brand advocates who stand behind and support your story.
Your story isn’t just what you do and how you do it. It’s why you do what you do, including who you are, obstacles you’ve overcome, and unique experiences you’ve went through that sets you apart from your competitors
Audience nowadays are conscious individuals who want to support causes that align with theirs and shop at places that share the same mission as theirs. Your story doesn’t have to be groundbreaking. It does have to answer the following questions:
- Why do you/we (the business) exist?
- How do you/we (the business) contribute to the world?
- What is your/our (the business) mission?
- What motivated you/us to start my business?
HOW CAN YOU HELP OTHERS
The biggest misconception about branding is that you should never focus on yourself. Your brand should be all about your audience! Breaking news – People don’t buy so that you can make money. They’re looking for something to solve a problem they have, personally or professionally, or they’re seeking something to enrich their lives in some way. It’s your job to figure out how to term your passion into services and products to do this for them, and do it in a way that makes them feel good about themselves, and their decision, in the process.
WHERE CAN YOU GROW A COMMUNITY
Now that you have identified your story and how you can help others, it’s time to select your main medium of communications and social media platform.
Are you better at writing (blog/Facebook), speaking (podcast/Reels/Youtube/IG/Clubhouse/TikTok), or telling stories through photos (blog/Instagram/Facebook)? Would you like to grow your community on Youtube? Should you focus on writing articles, publishing podcasts, or shooting videos?