Humans are inherently complex and unique beings. Our cultures, beliefs, values, and personalities shape us into who we are. In an increasingly competitive workplace, the best way to distinguish ourselves is through the creation of a personal brand, built upon these points of differentiation.

As defined by Digital Marketing Blog, a platform focused on topics within the digital media and marketing discipline, personal branding is “the practice of marketing people and their careers as brands. It is an ongoing process of developing and maintaining a reputation of an individual, group, or organization.”

The Orange County Register has left the storied address it called home in Santa Ana for 60 years and moved into this new building located at 2190 S. Towne Centre Pl. in Anaheim. (Photo by H. Lorren Au Jr., Orange County Register/SCNG)

One of the most important lessons I have learned through my internship with the Orange County Register is: first impressions are the only impression. The first 10 seconds of an in-person, digital, or written communication interaction is essential in creating a positive image and retaining an effective transaction with each respective medium.

Essentially, your personal brand is your first impression. The image you present of yourself and the language you communicate digitally curates an enhanced perception of value a potential employer will see when viewing your application. In large corporations, employers and recruiters most likely see hundreds of resumes across their desks on a day-to-day basis. To reap the competitive advantage amongst other candidates, creating a positive first impression will not only catch the attention of employers but also serve as a spotlight for your achievements and professional experiences.

As a personal project, I have taken up the practice of personal branding with the launch of my website. In the creation of my logo, color scheme, and tagline, I have created a composite profile or “brand” to better present myself in the workforce. I designed a more minimalist logo with a muted color scheme and incorporated the fern plant as a representation of my last name and my family: Fernandez. Though inherently simple in design, this branding paints a bigger picture of myself as an individual, my work and experience, and helps distinguish me amongst other candidates.

Just as branding contributes to first impressions and perceptions, a personal brand is not solely exclusive to an individual. In a corporate setting, establishing a cohesive, consistent brand through design, social media, and even language can serve as a distinguishing factor amongst other competitors in the industry.

Through my internship with the Orange County Register, I had the opportunity of working in the social media and event planning discipline and shadowing under two wonderful employers and mentors. In the creation of social media content across different platforms, my goal was to communicate the message effectively while building off the pre-established image of this company.

Due to COVID-19, I decided to re-brand the structure and content of the social media platforms of the OC Register with the events occurring in our world and reinforcing the perceived brand of the company. My employer and I shifted the focus of the platforms to showcase the amazing work done by local businesses in the Orange County area, and essentially utilize social media as a form of advertising for these businesses. I believe this has greatly contributed and reinforced the “branding” of the OC Register as an ally of local businesses during these unprecedented times.

Overall, the benefits of a personal brand are as such: branding allows for an authentic representation of oneself, the means to curate a strong first impression, and the competitive advantage necessary to distinguish oneself in an increasingly competitive workplace. I firmly believe that personal branding is an incredible strategy that is often overlooked and should be used by emerging professionals as a symbol of remembrance and recognition.

Your personal brand is your fingerprint: it is unique only to you. Leave your mark.