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10 Personal Branding Trends for 2013 (Part 1)

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At the end of each year, I predict what personal branding trends will be valuable to career-minded marketers in the coming year. In writing this article, I continue the series with much enthusiasm, because many exciting changes are afoot that will simplify building your brand in 2013.

You will see some common threads linking many of these trends, as well as interconnections between them. For example, LinkedIn features prominently in many of the entries because of the significant changes it has been making to its functionality. The importance of using multimedia, and using it well, is also a notable theme.

As you review these brand-building opportunities, consider how you will incorporate them into your strategies to increase your influence, achievement, and personal brand value.

1. Curation

Since social media turned the Internet on its ear, seemingly everyone on the planet has become their own media outlet, creating, posting, and distributing original content.


The resulting upload overload has left many looking for less-demanding alternatives. Career-minded professionals understand that personal branding does not require constant content creation, and that the new key to expressing your point of view is content curation.

Potent curation tools like Tumblr and Pinterest, plus newbies that will pop up in 2013, provide the opportunity to express your brand with the help of the ideas, images, and other information from the vast library that is the Internet, with limited original writing required. Phew!

2. Customization

At one time, if you wanted a truly customized brand identity on the Web, you needed to build your own website. That requirement is so last year. A host of services now allow you to build and customize a profile that uniquely reflects your brand.

Some social networking sites have always allowed limited customization. YouTube, for example, lets you pick the color palette for your channel, and other social networking sites provide a structured template for members to create a personalized profile.

More and more sites are making real customization a key feature of their offerings. Even LinkedIn, one of the most structured social media sites, now allows you to change the order of the content and to easily personalize your profile with videos, images, documents, and presentations. I predict it will eventually allow you to choose color and other design elements, making your LinkedIn profile a good substitute for having your own website.

In 2013, look for more platforms like About.me, flavors.me and Zerply, which provide a one-of-a-kind home on the Web—without the cost or effort of building your own site.

3. Mobile

According to JIBE, over 80% of smartphone users would use their phone to search for jobs. And 77% of job seekers use mobile job search apps, and of those who use them, nearly half would apply to a job right from a smartphone, according to Beyond.com.

Thousands of job-search apps are available—some to find jobs, others to manage the process, and yet others to help you make the connections that are critical to finding a job. Most of the apps have some type of personal branding component. Here are a few of the coolest one I've found to help you build your brand:

  • Lunchmeet helps you find geographically appropriate contacts so you can expand your network over lunch.
  • Pocketresume allows you to get the most updated information from your LinkedIn profile and export your resume to a PDF. It also lets you tailor your resume for specific positions.
  • Sparkhire is a video interviewing platform. Job seekers create video responses to employers' text-based questions, letting them showcase their brand. (See Trend 10: Video.)

As job searching and personal branding become increasingly mobile, those who are evaluating candidates will be using mobile devices as well; that means you need to optimize for mobile review whatever it is that you develop on the Web to express your brand.

4. People

When I started my personal branding business 11 years ago, HR execs would tell me that companies would never want their employees to build their brands. In fact, one HR leader laughed me out of her office, saying, "We don't want our people to be known outside the company."

Personal branding is now integrated into many companies' talent and leadership development programs. Savvy, people-centric organizations understand that they need to get the best from their people, not the most, and they realize that each employee is an authentic part of the face of the company.

Well before Mitt Romney's much maligned "Corporations are people" comment, organizations began promoting the human aspect of their businesses (Chevron's "Human Energy" and Cisco's "The Human Network Effect," for example) Increasingly, external communications campaigns are featuring actual employees (GE's "Pass the Wrench" and IBM's "I'm an IBMer," for example).

Expressing the corporate brand is not just for the CEO anymore. Individual employees will be the spokespeople for their companies. Businesses once reluctant to allow social media sites to be available inside the company firewall now build programs to help their employees post stellar LinkedIn profiles and timely tweets to communicate their brand. This trend will continue, blurring the line between the company and its people.

5. Pictures

"A picture is worth a thousand words" can be traced back to 1911 and is attributed to New York Journal-American editor Arthur Brisbane; Wikipedia nicely describes it as a "notion that a complex idea can be conveyed with just a single still image."

Graphic designers, architects, and artists have always used portfolios of images to showcase their work. Now, career-minded professionals will increasingly use infographics to show the value they added to their workplace. (Here are some examples of infographic resumes.)

Kinzaa is a site that allows you to build an infographic resume. Pinterest pinboards enable you to express your brand and your passions through images. Prezi lets you use pictures on an interactive whiteboard to convey your point of view and share thought leadership with others.

The traditional word-based resume or CV will be quickly replaced with pictures. The About Us section of visualize.me's website states: "We believe that the traditional text resume is boring, lengthy and long overdue for a makeover." I agree.

The movement away from words and toward pictures is not just for forward-thinking careerists; social medial sites are recognizing the power of Mr. Brisbane's wisdom. For example, LinkedIn is using images to make your profile more visually interesting. Its inserting the logos of the companies you work for into your experience. Have you noticed?

In addition, it now supports integrating images and presentations into your profile so you can take the infographic you create and share your thousand words' worth of image with your network contacts.

In the Part 2 of this article, we'll discuss five more trends you should include in your personal branding strategy.


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William Arruda, dubbed "the personal branding guru" by Entrepreneur, is a motivational speaker, talent-development consultant, and the founder and CEO of Reach Personal Branding. He is the author of Ditch. Dare. Do! 3D Personal Branding for Executives and curator at Personal Branding TV. He is credited with turning the concept of personal branding into a global industry.

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  • by Michelle Thu Jan 17, 2013 via web

    Sorry to say, but this happens to the best of us. From your first paragraph: "The importance using of multimedia, and using it well, is also a notable theme."

    In my experience, anything you do for your personal brand can be completely tanked by typo's and improper grammar. Proofreading means everything...

  • by Vahe, MarketingProfs Thu Jan 17, 2013 via web

    Thanks, Michelle, for pointing that out! Now corrected.

  • by Rogier Noort Thu Jan 17, 2013 via web

    Maybe your own website is not (entirely) necessary any more, but creating your own content is. In my opinion, establishing a credible brand is to showcase your expertise. You cannot do that with other peoples content.
    (Maybe that comes in part 2)
    Good post.., I love personal branding...

  • by Kelley Thu Jan 17, 2013 via web

    Thanks for the great info! A great article and I am looking forward to the next installment. A question though...with the advent of new, and much more relevant, resumes I am wondering how long it will take employers to "catch up". How long will it take HR specialists to understand that chronological resumes are boring and not truly indicative of skill and knowledge?

    Currently, after a long and successful career, I am attempting to change industries. I researched the appropriateness of a functional resume and was sold on the fact that it may be just what I need to showcase specific and transferrable skills. In short, however, it is very difficult to upload into the automated HR application portals and has become almost NON-functional! I can only imagine how difficult it would be to get HR professionals to look elsewhere for superb talent and to learn to appreciate a different medium and the story that medium tells.

    I know people are already using LinkedIN to get a better picture of an applicant but that is usually after the traditional application has been received. I am looking forward to outdated practice catching up with the new (and better!).

    Keep the good info coming!

  • by Scott Lippitt Thu Jan 17, 2013 via web

    Thanks for raising this critical issue. Personal branding, like any marketing, requires that the executive (or professional services provider) be crystal clear on his/her point of difference; including their persona (style and voice), work style, perspective on their job and/or industry, and their personal and professional values. And just like any marketing, it is critical that they communicate this point of difference in a disruptive, provocative way so that it doesn't require others to be extremely sensitive to nuances. Please don't misunderstand me. I am not talking about being brash. I am referring to being a thought-leader... someone who provokes others to think differently. This is what can be the foundation of an effective and MEMORABLE personal brand. After all, if your not on other peoples' radars, than you might as well be invisible when those people have a specific need.

    Thanks for letting me weigh-in.

  • by Roy Young Thu Jan 17, 2013 via web

    Great post, William. I am particularly interested in People, trend #4.

    So glad to hear that companies are becoming increasingly interested in supporting employees to become the human voice of the organization. My fear is that controlling cultures and limits from legal are forces that companies must address in order embrace and exploit the change to strengthen the corporate brand.

  • by Vikram Chahal Fri Jan 18, 2013 via web

    Loved the option of info-graphic resumes, will surely going to check them out.

  • by Laura Tessinari Sun Jan 27, 2013 via web

    Excellent William!

  • by Don McLean Wed Feb 6, 2013 via web

    One Detroit advertising icon, Jim Berline specified four characteristics needed to thrive at his agency, and any agency for that matter, that are part of personal branding. Take a look at those characteristics here: http://advertorious.com/2013/02/01/berline-says-brand-yourself/

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