Editor’s Note: Cole Imperi is a dynamic, driven and impressive young woman. We were happy to be able to highlight just some of what she does in this David’s Voice article from last year. We were even happier when she accepted our offer to become a contributor at David’s Voice. In her first series on our site, she talks about how to understand personal branding, why it’s important and what we can learn about ourselves. If you missed Part I, you can read it here. For Part II, click here.
Part III: Building the Foundation
In Part III, we’re going to learn how to create a ‘”brand guide” for ourselves and come up with our “elevator pitch.”
A “brand guide”(also called a “brand book” or ”identity guide”) is a document that tells a person or a company about the components of their brand and how to use them. Most include the logo, typefaces and colors that are okay (and not okay) to use explain and how items should be designed and laid out.
If you remember Keelie from Part II (http://davidsvoice.org/page.aspx?id=250389), you’ll remember that we’re working on her personal brand. We established her color palette, decided on her name and chose typefaces.
Drafting Your Elevator Pitch
Keelie has been working on her “elevator pitch,” a way to quickly communicate to people who she is and what she does. Keelie attends a lot of networking events and she wants to make sure she comes off as professional as possible.
Here’s what she has:
“I am a marketing professional with five years of experience managing the entire marketing presence for one branch of a large, multi-national company. Marketing is my passion, especially when I’m in-house.”
That’s short and sweet and highlights what she does for a living. But, we want to really highlight her strengths and flip this pitch into a more active voice.
“I am a marketing professional. Currently, I manage the marketing efforts of an entire branch of a large, multi-national company. I work with 10 other offices around the world and plan, delegate and implement new marketing campaigns every four weeks. In the last two years, my branch has doubled in size and we are now the top-grossing branch in the entire company.”
When you are drafting your own elevator pitch, you have to start somewhere, just like Keelie did. Keelie started with what came out naturally (her first pitch above). She just needed to highlight actual, solid details (like numbers) so that her audience could identify with the things she was saying.
Once you have your elevator pitch nailed down, you will find that it comes in handy anytime someone asks you, "What do you do for a living?" Most people just answer with a simple, "I work in marketing," which really doesn’t say all that much. A solid pitch in your brand guide along with your logo, colors and typefaces will set you apart.
What we wear is a major vehicle to express our brand. While purchasing a new wardrobe is likely not in anyone’s budget, paying attention to it and “remixing” it certainly is.
Before, Keelie had lots of very bright-colored clothes with big, bold patterns. Most of her wardrobe did not fit into her new, refined brand. Keelie chose to consign most of the pieces at a local shop. She was able to purchase some basic foundation pieces and once the rest of her items sell in the consignment shop, she’ll take that money and apply it to new purchases for her wardrobe.
No matter what your circumstances with your wardrobe, at a minimum you need to look at your clothes and see if they fit into your refined brand. Literally pull your clothes out of the closet and put together outfits. Look at how you dress...does it fit with how you want to appear? Many of us have developed habits in the way we dress over the years and we may not realize how those choices actually look to others.
Many young professionals need to update their wardrobes to look a little “older.” A great tip from wardrobe stylists is to rely less on patterns and more on textures. Women should mix textures in their outfits, like pairing a denim pant with a cardigan trimmed in small organza ruffles. Look for work-appropriate shirts with textural details, like buttons or embellishments sewn in, small ruffles or ribbon trim. A very elegant look is a shirt of the same (or very close to the same) color as its embellishments. Men can pull in texture as well. Consider swapping a nice sweater for a blazer or suit jacket, pay attention to detailing on your shoes and don’t forget your outerwear. Textures add dimension to an ensemble.
Drafting Your Brand Guide
A brand guide is basically a guide to your own image. Since you’ll be using it, you can put whatever you’ll need inside. Most include basics like a logo, typefaces and colors.
I’m including Keelie’s brand guide for you to download. You can model your own guide off of Keelie’s or just use it as a starting point. Keelie has hers printed and tucked into a binder. She keeps this on her desk at her home office and references it anytime she creates something tied to herself (e.g. ordering a new set of personal calling cards, creating an account on a new social network or picking out clothes for a new headshot).
Cole Imperi started Doth Brands while she was still in college. What once was a one-woman show has grown into a network of dozens of talented professionals in-house and across the globe. Since founding Doth Brands, Cole has been a proponent of inbound marketing. She is known for her ‘"ess is more" approach and minimalistic—yet bold—design style. Cole is a 200-hour certified yoga teacher and a retired roller-derby skater. She is an award-winning design professional and business owner.