As architects and designers, we always focus on perfecting other people's project. But seldom do we pay attention to ourselves. Well, it's time to change that. Almost all of us have a brand on the web that is unconsciously crowd-sourced by everyone we know. Your best friend tags you on that funny meme on Instagram, and your mom wouldn’t stop adding super embarrassing photos of you on FB.
The question is no longer IF architects need a personal brand, but how we can curate the brand that already exists for us organically. The difference between a successful brand and merely a digital existence is the active consciousness behind it.
In this 2-part series about my favorite topic - Personal Branding, we're diving deep into why you need a personal brand and how to build your personal brand as an architect and designer. After reading this post, you can jump onto the next one where we'll build your brand together:
Today, we're focusing on why personal branding is so important in succeeding in your career.
1. Even Batman needs a Backup Plan
Your brand is like your backup plan when you are nervously sweating in the interview room. It’s the thing you can go back for over and over again. It’s always easier to sell a product when you know it like the back of your hand.
I am not a great speaker, so having an identity actually helps me a lot when I meet new people. Having a consistent brand means you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every single time. The elevator pitch? Done. The “tell me about yourself”? Done. What to wear to work? Done.
2. It’s like your Secret Garden
Using your personal brand as a side project is a great way to express your imagination while buried in those bathroom details.
When I first started writing my blog, I had no intention on building a brand for myself. I started it as a way to channel my creativity that I wasn’t getting from my first job. I am not saying that everyone should write a blog (if everyone does, then probably no one will read my blog anymore). You would definitely want to keep your creative side of the brain in case your boss asks you to design a building in one day (yes it happens!).
Remember that your brand is going to keep changing, because you’re always changing. You might get a new job, or you might became a mother or just all of a sudden fall in love with minimalist design like me. It’s a challenge to keep up with our own multi-passionate creative brain, but at least it’s a fun one. Keeping up with your personal brand means you’re constantly evaluating yourself and keeping that creative juice flow.
3. Branding = Sharing
The core of branding is about creating and demonstrating your value. We all have a certain level of professional knowledge that makes us an asset to this industry.
BIG built their brand by sharing their diagrammatic thought process; Gensler has research programs that reinforce their expertise; By sharing my experience as an architect, I have created an identity for myself. This could be a totally new topic, but here are a couple ways for you to share your knowledge:
- Join organizations that align with your values.
- Start a 20/20 presentation at work on whatever topic you like (20 minute with 20 slides).
- Become a mentor/leader.
- Train others at work / outside of work.
- Post on social media any architecture/design news that you find interesting.
- Contribute to architectural publications or your office’s blog if they have one.
4. Bring it up in your Interview
This is by far the most useful one because you can truly see it in person. All the collaterals that come out of your branding exercise are great tools to get you an interview. Make sure your resume, cover letter, work samples and portfolio have the same consistent look that also translate to your online presence (website, email signature, Linkedin profile…)
But the real benefit of having a brand is to bringing it up at your interview.
I have been to interviews where the interviewer had read my blog from the link on my resume. On my 2nd interview, I had posted up a new post the day before which he had also read and expressed his interest in the topic when we met in person.
The more similarity they find in you, the more they will remember you. So create that similarity by making a brand that speak to you.
5. stand out in front of everyone
When firms review candidates, they look for skills that align with their specific work. You might think that we are too young to specialize in something, but being a generalist is not as good as you think.
It doesn’t even have to be about architecture. The first job hired me mostly because they needed someone to help them standardize their graphics. So me, who could draft at a very low hourly rate and also do graphic design, was the perfect fit for them. Building a brand around a specialty is a great way to tell employers/potential clients why they should hire you.
Branding is an on-going self-realizing process just like architecture is a life-long learning career. We can’t figure out who we are in one day. Your brand will evolve as you continue to gain experience as an architect. So just take your time and breathe. If it takes longer to build your brand than you thought it would be, don’t worry because branding never ends. As long as you learn how to use it as a career tool, you are good to go.
Now read the next blog post on how to build your personal brand as an architect. We'll go through, step by step, what you need to do to have a consistent brand even if you're just a beginner.
Got questions? Leave a comment. Let's chat!