Hey there, in this episode of The Career Rx, we're going to talk about professional branding. Specifically, we’re going to talk about what a professional brand is, what it isn’t, and why you should have a great professional branding strategy.
The term ‘professional branding’ is everywhere these days, but there are lots of misconceptions about what this actually means. Here are some questions I’m often asked:
What is professional branding?
Why do you need a professional brand?
How does professional branding help your career?
What are the benefits of a professional brand?
In This Episode of The Career Rx We’ll Discuss:
- What professional branding really is (hint: not a logo or a slogan)
- The benefits of a strong professional brand strategy
- Misconceptions about professional brands
- My upcoming series on branding, and how you can get involved!
*Also, get access to free webinar training on the basics of professional branding!
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TRANSCRIPT AND SHOW NOTES (What ‘Professional Brand’ Really Means – And Why You Need One – Episode 30)
Here’s a term that’s on the rise: professional branding. So a lot of my students ask: What is professional branding? What is your professional brand? Why do you need a professional brand?
With this in mind, we’re going to tackle professional branding on this podcast not just in this episode of course, but in an entire series. To easily find some of the top Career Rx episodes on professional branding, just go to the website marjoriestieglermd.com/podcast and you’ll find my Professional Branding Playlist. It’s a great place to start.
As you know, I always base my episodes on questions from listeners like you. While I get this question almost every day, I’ve chosen a message from Mary, who is a physician with a wellness coaching component – kind of a side gig, but also a valuable additional service for her patients, (thank you Mary!) to kick us off.
Mary writes, “I hate the term ‘branding’ because it sounds like I’m trying to represent myself as something bigger, like an insincere overstatement. But everyone is talking about professional and personal branding these days, so can you help me understand exactly what professional branding is, and is this something I should work on?”
100% YES MARY. YES.
You have two questions: First, what is professional branding? And second, why do you need a professional brand? So for this episode, I’m going to cover the basics about what professional branding is, and what it isn’t.
Anyone who is skeptical, please stick with me on this episode. I know lots of people have a sort of aversion to the word ‘branding’ and I promise I will change your mind on that.
Before we go further, I want to remind you that I have a free webinar on this very topic – Intro to Professional Branding.
It's a one hour webinar all about what branding is and how it can help you in your career, no matter your specific goals. It’s relevant whether you want to advance academically, grow your practice, launch a business or side gig, get more speaking engagements, or even pivot to a different career path. It was designed in a Q&A style (from real submissions), so please check it out.
Ok, back to the episode:
What does ‘professional branding’ really mean?
Many people hear the word brand and think of things like a logo, trademark, or other specific business representation. That’s not what we’re talking about here (although that could be part of how you represent your professional brand online).
Your professional brand communicates your reputation and value to an employer, client, or colleague. Instead, we’re talking about what other people think of you, and perhaps more importantly, when they think of you, and what they say about you when you’re not in the room. I don’t mean in a gossip sense. I mean in the elevator pitch sense.
Part of branding is developing your own elevator pitch, which we’ll get into, and part of it – maybe the most important part of it, is helping others to convey that elevator pitch about you. This could be a favorable recommendation from a previous employer or colleague. It could be a nomination to a leadership role. It could be a suggestion to invite you as a speaker. It could be a patient testimonial, word of mouth referral. You get the idea.
So professional branding is a way to communicate your background/credibility in a way that really clicks specifically with the kind of people or organizations that would most value your style and your work, and to do this in a memorable way so they think of you when the time is right.
Professional branding is a succinct way to communicate your value, makes it clear what kind of work you do, and what you aspire to do.
Professional branding should have enough personality and detail to really click with the right audience, and steer the wrong folks elsewhere.
Why is professional branding important?
Regardless of your current career situation, and regardless of your future career goals, professional branding plays a key role in helping you get the opportunities you want, do you can do the work you love, and make a real difference for the people who benefit from that work.
So professional branding is a communication strategy. It’s a concise way of communicating your professional background, expertise, and experience. It also helps people understand what kind of work you do, or how they can work with you, and the benefits that’s likely to get them.
I mentioned that branding is about what other people think and say about you, and WHEN they think about you. You want to be the go-to, top of mind person that others think of when they are looking for a specific person to meet their needs. Again, for some of you, this is your patients or clients. For others, this is a leadership role or a new job. For others, it’s a research collaboration or a speaking invitation. You fill in the blank.
So branding is important because it helps other people to know exactly what to remember you for, so that they will think of you (and hopefully, take action to work with you) when that time arises.
If you’ll think as a general consumer for a minute, you understand what I mean here. There are gazillions of choices when it comes to cold beverages, for example. And when you’re thirsty or hot, there’s likely a specific drink that comes to mind that would really hit the spot.
You aren’t even aware of the vast majority of choices out there (their branding either hasn’t reached you yet, or it didn’t resonate – say it is an energy drink, but you don’t want any caffeine or stimulants for example, or it just wasn’t memorable). And among the ones that do come to mind, there’s likely one or two that are your favorites.
You want to come to mind when the person who’s going to really benefit from your particular work style and unique value has a need you can fill. When they’re thirsty, you want to be that obvious drink. Know what I mean?
What Professional Branding Is Not:
Professional branding is not about padding your resume, it is not about embellishing your experience. It is not about presenting yourself as something that you aren’t. It’s not a dirty word. It’s not a bad thing.
Think of a good purchase experience and a really bad purchase experience, this helps you to understand why there is no way I would ever suggest that your professional branding be any kind of embellishment, and why professional branding is definitely not lying, deceiving or misrepresenting. Not at all.
Why not? Because obviously, if your brand message is compelling, and it will be if you are following the formula that's laid out in my materials over on my website, then you'll be getting positive results. And if you put your personal brand out there and you get those results because people like it and they come and they hire you.
And when I say hire you, I mean, they are becoming a client of yours.They may become a patient of yours. They may offer you a job, they may give you an award, they may nominate you for promotion, they may give you an important project, like whatever it is that you want, that you're working towards, is built into that brand language, if that's what you put out there, and people like it, they will act on it.
Now once you reach this phase, you don't want to fall short! So that is 100% not what branding is. It's not false. It's not phony. It is not made up. It is real, it is genuine, it is an honest representation of you and how your professional activities can benefit others.
Do I need a professional brand?
Yes, 100%, you need a professional brand. Let me give you two reasons why:
1. Having a professional brand accelerates your career progression.
Having a professional brand helps people to think about you at the right time and for the right opportunities. This helps your professional reputation and you can more quickly establish yourself as a thought leader and as an expert.
And of course, this all helps your career, both in monetary and non-monetary ways. Again, helping you be able to sort of build your career aspirations around doing more of the kind of work that you love and that you're good at, for the kind of people who really value it.
2. Having a professional brand matches you with the right employer, colleagues, or clients.
I know that there are a lot of folks in my audience who feel like a cog in a wheel, you show up for work, and you feel totally invisible or totally replaceable. Or, you know, what you really want to do more of isn't valued in your department or with your group.
So if that's you, I want you to stop for a second and think really, really carefully now about what we're talking about.
Because with a really good and effective brand, you'll be able to do one of two things:
- You'll either be able to convey that unique value, so that the decision makers in your group or department will recognize it for its worth, and perhaps put some support behind it.
- Or you will be able to be recruited elsewhere, to the people who do value that already and they know that they're looking for someone really strong in those areas. They’ll see you as the person that they need uniquely. And that is going to help you.
Your strong professional brand helps others – it’s not really ‘all about you’!
I'm going to go ahead here and assume that your work is important, and that you're doing your best at it. I feel really comfortable with that starting point because if you didn't think it was important, and you weren't dedicated to it, I believe you wouldn't be doing it at all.
Who would possibly dedicate that many hours, or put in that many hours and commit to doing stuff that they thought was either unimportant or that they were not going to do a good job on?
That's why effective professional branding matters to other people. If your work is important, and what you're doing has value and what you're doing matters, then people need to see it. People need to know about it.
If nobody knows about it, even if it is the most important work in the world, it's not going to actually be important, if it doesn't reach people and help to change their lives.
Final thoughts on professional branding:
So that is what professional branding is all about: it's a way to increase your professional visibility around a truly authentic skill set that is uniquely you, right, nobody can do you the way that you do!
This is about setting yourself up in that way. So that either people will realize, yes, that's exactly what I need, or I didn't know I needed it before but now I do know and I know just who to go to (you).
If you were a skeptic, I hope you are beginning to see the term ‘professional branding’ in a different light, and starting to realize all the benefits to you and to others that come from a powerful and authentic professional brand strategy.
Opportunity Alert! Would you like a branding makeover?
Now – I mentioned I’ll be doing a series, so I want you to know about this opportunity! If you aren’t sure what to do with yourself in terms of how to develop your own brand strategy, pop on over to marjoriestieglermd.com/makeover and volunteer to be featured on this podcast in the coming weeks. I’ll be doing some makeovers for a few brave folks who are willing to discuss their aspirations, challenges, and websites (or public LinkedIn profile) on the podcast. Are you up for it? The link is right here.
Thanks for joining me on this episode of The Career Rx!
Please be sure to subscribe and leave me a review on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast or whatever podcast player you're using to listen today. Also, be sure to send me your questions so I can answer them and give you a shout out on a future episode.
Bye for now,