Everything an Interior Designer Needs to Build a Personal BrandOct 15, 2021
What is your personal brand? Not sure? If you are currently looking at this post as if it just grew two heads and magically popped off the screen, then you need to stay with me. It doesn’t matter if you own a design firm or working at a design firm, your personal brand is key to your future professional success. The truth is people do business with people, not companies. The good news is that you can start building your personal brand today.
What is Personal Branding?
First, let’s start with what a personal brand is. A personal brand is just that, individuals’ perception of you as a person, employee, designer, etc. A personal brand is your story. It highlights your strengths, establishes your reputation, creates trust, and communicates your unique professional attributes. It tells someone whether you will be good at a job and as an employee.
Whether you realize it or not, you have created a personal brand. What you also may not realize is that you need to cultivate that and use it to your benefit.
Every semester I cover branding with my interior design students by asking them to compare two brands – Target and Walmart. Both companies offer relatively the same products. If you want paper towels or shoes, both stores offer those items.
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But, inevitably, everyone in the class has an opinion or perception of both brands. One student may find Walmart’s low prices outweigh the poor store experience, while another might want to pay a few extra dollars for a better personal experience. Neither student is right or wrong, it is their perception and opinion that determines which brand they like better.
A personal brand, much like a company brand, is a perception given to those around you. Think about the people you work with closely. What do you think they would say about you? One person might say you are dependable or organized. Another may comment you are always positive and offer great solutions. Maybe another would tell you that they like what you stand for and your strong work ethic.
On the same note, you may also receive some negative feedback. One person may say you have good ideas but struggle to make decisions quickly. Again, right or wrong, it is the person’s perception. One that you need to understand even if you don’t want to hear the negative feedback.
How to Identify your Personal Brand?
Set aside others’ perceptions of you for a moment. Let’s talk about how you want to be perceived. Start with looking at what you do well. Make a list of all the things you feel you are good at doing? Be mindful of what you are adding to the list. Don’t just put interior design. Think a bit deeper. What kind of design? Are you great at walking into a bare room and ultimately envisioning it finished with a mix of contemporary and vintage pieces? Are you excellent at coordinating fabrics to make space pop and feel alive? Your strengths may be how you related to your clients and provide communication to help them through the design/construction process.
Once you have made your entire list of your professional strengths. Next, I want you to write down all the professional things you love to do.
I can tell you from my own experience that I like to share my knowledge with others. I am continually learning and working to gain more understanding of key business and design principals. When I share what I know with someone else, and it helps them, I feel amazing.
When I looked closer, I realized I enjoy assisting others in growing professionally. Well, guess what, that is what I love doing every day, so much so, I am building a business around helping other interior designers.
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Now that you have all three lists – your strengths, perception from others, and what you love. Now it is time to put it all together. What lives on all three lists? Those are the items to pull out. Those items will help you craft your personal brand message.
Just because you are good at something doesn’t mean that it is your personal brand. If you hate that thing, even if you are good at it, it doesn’t mean you should pursue it as a brand.
On the same note, if you think you are an excellent presenter, yet you don’t love it, and your co-workers are telling you it isn’t your strength, then maybe you don’t promote yourself as a speaker. Can you see where I am going? There are tons of great things you are good at, but you also need to love it, and others must recognize it as a valuable quality.
One warning note: don’t get too sidetracked on what others think. You should only consider constructive feedback from those you respect and that respect you in return. Worrying about what your judgmental sister-in-law or your high school nemesis thinks is not helpful and a complete waste of time.
How to Share your Personal Brand?
When you see an apple, what do you think? What about a swoosh? The most famous brands are often represented by a simple symbol. No words are required, just an apple. Have you ever thought about how those brands became so recognizable? Well, let me tell you, there was a day when an apple was just an apple and nothing more.
My point is that marketing experts at Apple and Nike, many years ago, utilized that symbolism along with their brand messaging over and over, and over until now, we see an apple or a swoosh, and we immediately feel something towards those products.
I am not telling you to go buy pricey ads and scream your personal brand at your highest voice. Instead, I am telling you to recognize your brand, live your brand, and share your brand in everything you do.
For my personal brand, I want to be known as an educator who shares knowledge and helps others grow to their full potential. One way I can do this is by sharing what inspires me or teaches me. I will give you an example.
One Sunday afternoon, I watched a video on “How to stop screwing yourself over” by Mel Robbins. (TedxSF talk) I enjoyed the video over coffee, but then went about my day. The next morning, I hit a duh moment, I do that a lot. I realized I could share the video with others. If it inspired me, it probably inspires others. Even though it was an old video (2011), it is still impactful. This is an example of sharing information that supports my personal brand to be an educator and to help others grow.
Channels for Personal Branding
If you want to be Denver’s go-to contemporary interior designer, then you want to share not only images showing your design style/aesthetics on social media but also content that helps solidify you as such in your audiences’ minds. This might include writing blog posts that talk to contemporary design like “tips to declutter for a crisper look,” or “3 tips for creating a fresh look this Spring.”
If you want people to know you as trustworthy and reliable, then do what you say and do it on time. This is living your brand.
Sharing your personal brand is also about consistency. This isn’t always easy, especially when you are crazy busy or focused on other, more pressing things. Finding and sharing information that supports your personal brand can be time-consuming. You may find that adding value to others’ social posts may be the right solution when time is lacking. Staying active and involved helps you continually share yourself with others.
Understanding who you are and how you are unique and then sharing that with the world will go a long way in not only securing a successful career but also monetizing your personal brand.
New CEU Coming Soon!
Pre-registration is now open!
Building Your Identity Beyond Logos: How Interior Designers Can Use Branding
Branding is a part of our everyday lives. It affects our lives in many different ways: where we shop, what we buy, and who we trust. You may not realize it, but you are a brand. You can use that brand to build an interior design career or business. In this CEU course, “Build your Brand Identity Beyond Logos: How Interior Designers Can Use Branding,” participants will learn about branding and how to use branding to build a design career or business.
This course covers a wide range of branding topics, including the effects on buying decisions, branding types, brand strategy, and branding implementation. Once completed, attendees will feel more confident building a brand strategy for their design business or career. Pre-register today.
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