In a previous post, I introduced the idea of personal branding. It's a topic that you've likely heard come up in the last year, and it is becoming more prevalent in conversations about career success. Some people will hail personal branding as more important than it really is . There is a place for it, but don't drink too much of the Kool-Aid. In my previous post I broke down the elements of a personal brand and how they create an understanding of who you are as an employee that differentiates you in your career. Now I want to talk about how your personal brand fits with other brands, and how understanding the 'portfolio' you are a part of unlocks the success of your brand.
Think about your cell phone case. There's a reason you chose it. You liked the design, durability, color or graphic. You may even know the brand of the cover and would be loyal to that brand knowing you are satisfied with it. As a young person starting out in the industry, you are more like the phone case than the phone. You provide an important function and addition to the overall product, but you're complimenting something bigger than yourself. I'm talking about your managers and bosses. They are the phone to your phone case. You not only need to have a distinct brand of your own, but you also need to understand what will fit their needs, make them more successful, and make the two of you in combination work well together.
In the marketing world most people have multiple managers. You have departmental managers, project managers, department heads, and sometimes development managers. It is your job to understand their brands as well. Who are they in the hierarchy of your organization? What are their strengths that you can learn from and associate with? What are their weaknesses that you can balance out and support? How can you make them look good while making you look good? The good think is that as much as they might not ask for it, they need you. They are counting on you to make them look good, but not because they want to steal your credit (usually), but because they see you as an ally. When they win, you win, and if you help them win, it's only going to benefit you. Your name will be top of mind when it comes to special projects, leadership roles, raises, promotions, etc.
Whether you're interning or working full-time, knowing the rest of the brands in your portfolio is important. Pay attention to what your teammates and mangers say. Analyze their interactions with others. Understand the relationships they have with others and what needs that might bring to your attention. Ask other people about them to get outside opinions on their strengths/weaknesses (be sure to do this casually and relevantly). You will be successful when you can navigate through all of this information with a clear vision of what your role is , and where you're taking your career.
About David Trahan
David Trahan is a consultant-verbal identity and digital brand strategy for Interbrand. He graduated from Pace University in 2009.