We all know that branding is not just for products and companies anymore. For ambitious women, it’s imperative to define and develop a professional brand that sets you up for career advancement. Your brand is your competitive advantage.
Career expert Nacie Carson would say that branding is downright Darwinian. In her new book, The Finch Effect, Carson adapts Darwin’s evolutionary theory about adaptation and the “survival of the fittest” to define a set of five essential professional development strategies.
According to Carson (director of development services at Cleaver Company), what we call “branding” in the 21st century was at the core of Darwin’s theory:
“In the Origin of the Species, Darwin wrote that ‘the preservation of individual differences and variations’ is at the heart of understanding how survival of the fittest works. Differentiation and variation are at the very crux of adaptability: they are the means of making a place for yourself within the context of an ever-shifting environment and also among other individuals within the environment.”
In other words, if you want to make like Darwin’s exemplary finches, which managed to survive when other fine-feathered species died out, you gotta brand.
Carson does a really great job breaking down the process of how you can identify your brand and share it effectively. “The clearer and more confident you can be about your value and differentiation from the competition,” explains Carson, “the more you are worth to employers or clients.”
So how do you gain that clarity and confidence?
For one thing, you create a brand tagline. Your pithy, catchy slogan. Think Nike: “Just do it.” Carson advises that you make your tagline:
- Easily identifiable
- Inextricably attached to you in the minds of your marketplace
When crafting your tagline, use Carson’s guidelines:
- Keep it under 15 words
- Wordsmith it with your target market in mind
- Make it consistent with the core elements of your brand
- Don’t overdo anything sassy or cute
- Be descriptive about your experience, expertise, or services
- Project confidence, capability, and professionalism appropriate to your industry and career level
- Resist exaggeration
- Strive for what’s compelling; when in doubt, keep it conservative
Done well, your tagline not only telegraphs your unique value-added to your team, supervisors, colleagues, and prospective employers. It also serves to remind yourself (particularly in those dim moments when we find ourselves questioning everything) who you are, what you stand for, and where you want to go.