Finding Your Personal Brand as an Interior Designer When Working for Someone ElseJul 14, 2023
As an interior designer, working for someone else can make it challenging to establish your personal brand. You're working on someone else's projects with their clients, following their brand guidelines, and trying to balance that with showcasing your own design aesthetic.
This can create a bit of a tug-of-war, making you feel like you’re losing your sense of identity. But don't worry, because you can still establish your personal brand, even when you work for someone else. In this blog post, we’ll discuss how to find your personal brand as an interior designer working for someone else.
What is a Personal Brand?
Personal branding is the practice of promoting oneself as a brand, just like a product or service. It involves creating a reputation highlighting your unique skills, expertise, and attributes as an interior designer. This means that everything you do, from your work to your social media presence, should reflect your brand values and personality.
Although you work for someone else, you are still a brand with personality and values. There is no time like the present to start establishing who you are as an interior designer. Even if you don’t want to start your own firm, you will most likely want a new job or a promotion one day.
Your personal brand will help you achieve your career goals more quickly.
Related Article: "Everything an Interior Designer Needs to Build a Personal Brand"
How to Get Started Identifying Your Personal Brand
Steps to Establish Your Brand
- Define your unique selling proposition (USP)
The first step in finding your personal brand is to define your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). This is what sets you apart from other designers in the industry. Consider what you bring to the table that's different from everyone else – this could be your sense of style, problem-solving skills, niche specialization, or your ability to connect with clients. Play on your strengths and highlight them as your USP.
To define your USP, you need to understand what makes you different from other interior designers. What special skills or certifications do you possess? What unique design perspectives do you bring to the table? Ask yourself what your brand represents and what makes you stand out. Develop a brand persona by exploring your brand’s personality traits, demographic and psychographic factors. To draft a unique proposal, you can take elements from customer behaviors, likes / dislikes, pain points, and the brand’s uniqueness.
- Identify Your Brand Attributes
To create an effective personal brand, you will identify the attributes that make you stand out from other interior designers. These may include your design style, level of expertise, communication skills, personal values, and professional achievements. Once you have identified your brand attributes, you can use them to create a consistent message that resonates with your target audience.
- Understand Your Employer’s Brand Values
It's important to respect the brand values of your employer. Understanding their brand values, mission, and goals will help you align your work with their vision while infusing your personal touch. Ensure you’re up-to-date on the latest design trends and can provide new ideas within the framework of their brand guidelines.
Your personal brand isn’t just for starting a business; it also tells others who you are as an employee and coworker. For example, your brand value is dependability - you are a dependable person that others can count on. This brand value fits into your day-to-day work life.
- Develop a Signature Style
Developing a signature style is a great way to stand out as an interior designer. This can be something as simple as a color scheme or a particular type of furniture you always incorporate into your designs. By creating a signature style, you’re establishing your personal brand and making it easy for potential clients to recognize your work.
I worked with a designer who always added a plant to her design presentation boards. She felt it was a good connection to nature. This is a simple signature, but it was directly tied to her design aesthetic.
- Write a Personal Brand Statement
Once you have identified your unique value proposition, signature style, and brand attributions and values, it is time to create a short brand statement, better known as the elevator speech. This is your 30-second statement you share with new people you meet. It is your reply to the “What do you do?”
This statement should be short and concise but leave someone wanting to know more.
“I am an interior designer who loves to get my hands dirty redesigning kitchens.” If you are a kitchen designer, I can almost guarantee you will find at least one person in any crowd who hates their kitchen.
The idea behind this type of short brand statement is that it leads to a deeper conversation. Then when the person asks for more, you go into your medium brand statement, which gives more details. I cover this topic in more detail in “How (& Why) Emerging Professionals Can Create a Personal Brand Statement.” It is the process I shared with my design students at the college I taught. It works.
Building Your Brand Reputation:
Once you have established your personal brand, it's time to build your reputation as a designer. This means delivering exceptional design, excellent customer service, and building a network of satisfied clients and industry professionals. By consistently delivering high-quality work and building positive relationships, you can establish a strong brand reputation that will help you stand out in the competitive world of interior design.
Establish a Strong Online Presence
A strong online presence helps you establish your personal brand, even if you work for someone else. Use your social media profiles to showcase your work, including behind-the-scenes photos and your design philosophy. Share design tips, industry news, and engage with your followers. This will also help you grow your personal network of potential clients and collaborators.
Related Article: How to Use LinkedIn to Build a Personal Brand
Consider participating in online communities and forums to help you interact with your audience, build relationships, and establish yourself as an authority. You can provide relevant information, answer questions, and share your experiences. This helps create a strong online presence and increase your reach.
Finally, you could also consider having a blog on your own website to share your thoughts and ideas on interior design, showcase completed projects, and provide relevant information to your audience. This is the perfect portfolio when searching for your next position.
Create a Design Portfolio
Your portfolio should aim to show off your best work. Select projects that you are proud of and that reflect your skills as an interior designer. Showing the breadth of your work will help potential employers or clients understand your style and enable them to visualize how you can bring their vision to life.
It's also a great way to demonstrate your skills to your employer. Consider including a range of project types, such as a commercial office, a luxury residence, and a small urban apartment, to showcase your versatility. Remember to highlight your strengths and what makes you unique as a designer.
Don’t wait until you need a new job. Start now by collecting images and identifying projects you made a solid contribution. Keep a working file on your personal computer when you want to update your portfolio.
Maintaining and Evolving Your Brand
Personal branding is an ongoing process that requires constant attention and evolution. As you gain more experience and expand your portfolio, you may need to adjust your brand message and identity to reflect your new skills and achievements. It's also important to keep up with the latest industry trends and technologies and participate in relevant events and organizations to stay top-of-mind.
Creating a personal brand as an interior designer is essential for establishing a solid reputation and attracting potential clients. By identifying your brand attributes, developing a consistent brand identity, and building a strong reputation, you can establish yourself as a respected and innovative designer in the industry. Remember to keep your brand message and identity authentic and relevant and to evolve your brand as you gain more experience and expertise. With a strong personal brand, you can succeed in the competitive interior design world.
Interested in learning more about branding? Pre-register for our CEU course: "Building Your Brand Beyond Logos: How Interior Designers Can Use Branding to Build a Successful Design Business." We are just waiting for IDCEC approval to launch, which hopefully will be any day now.
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