What is personal branding – and why it matters for architects
No matter if you are working at an architectural firm or growing your own business, you should be taking your personal branding very seriously.
Personal branding is a set of techniques for creating a consistent brand around yourself rather than your business entity. Your goal is to become a distinct, recognizable brand that stands out from the competition.
A personal brand goes beyond the visual side of things and concerns the way you communicate, present your deliverables and the stories you tell with your buildings. Being a brand allows you to showcase your expertise and connect with your audience better.
In conceptual terms, being a brand means being larger than the sum of all services you offer. Respectively, you are able to charge clients way more than the sum of each of your separate services.
Proper personal branding also helps you transcend the rules and limitations and find shortcuts to bigger and better deals, thus reducing your marketing expenses.
In other words, can you work as an architect without investing any time or effort into branding yourself? You sure can. But with a personal brand, you get to better clients, better projects, easier negotiations, and cheaper marketing.
How to build your personal brand – techniques and steps
The conceptual steps
This is the broad, strategic stuff you need to do to lay the foundation of your personal brand as an architect.
Make up your mind
First things first, you need to decide and accept that you need to become a brand to progress.
This changes the way you view your work, your activities, your communication, and your business practices. From now on you need to reduce chaos and spontaneity in the way you do things and move to standartized procedures and SOPs for things you thought were minor. At every point of time you need to know what you are doing next and why.
So start by deciding that you are a brand from now on and act like one.
Define your target market
There are many types of architects in the UK, so spend some time thinking about your specialization.
Match the services you want to offer with a more narrow target market – and that group of clients will be your niche.
Niching down your service helps you become an authority faster and get to bigger and better projects in that niche. You can niche down to industries, building types, architectural styles, construction techniques, and so on.
Identify your unique value proposition
What makes you different from everyone else in your field?
What will make clients pick you over the competition?
Again, this goes hand in hand with defining your target market, the type of clients or buildings you focus on. However, you can make yourself unique using other things too, e.g. your deliverables and reports, the way you communicate with clients, or the way you refer other professionals to your clients.
PlanMan helps you find ways to stand out using smooth project management and client communication. Considering how hard it is for stakeholders to stay properly updated about the project, professional updates and single-point document management may very well become a part of your personal architecture brand.
Develop a consistent visual identity
This concerns having a simple yet recognizable logo, social media and website imagery, deliverables design, and everything else that your clients and other stakeholders see. You may want to work with a designer that specializes in personal branding for that.
Practical personal branding techniques
Create consistent content
Share your insights, opinions, and stories on social media, other architecture blogs, podcasts, or videos. Brand every social profile you run visually. Have a similar style of delivery across all your social media profiles.
Put together social media guidelines for yourself and your assistants, and outsource social media management the moment you know what you want and have a set of rules for it.
Have a LinkedIn that syndicates all your social media posts and packs them into one authoritative and informative feed.
Build a personal website
Create a website that displays your portfolio, testimonials, and contact information as an architect. Make sure your testimonials highlight the strongest selling points of your brand.
Ask for feedback and testimonials from your clients, colleagues, and mentors to improve your skills and reputation as an architect. Nurture and deepen your connection with clients – the client communication module in PlanMan helps achieve that.
Network as a brand
Connect with other architects and professionals who can send you referrals. Make sure you broadcast your personal brand message properly to them so you are easily associated with whatever your brand is focused around.
Share personal stories
Tell stories that reveal your passion, values, and vision as an architect. There are creative ways to pack any message into social media posts and blogs.
Video content may dominate social media platforms in the coming years, especially short-form videos like TikTok and Instagram Reels, so consider exploring these channels.
Personal branding mistakes that architects make
Not having a clear strategy
Once you’ve decided that you’re planning to focus on personal branding, have a clear branding strategy.
Break your strategy down into actionable to-do lists that are split into ongoing tasks.
Once you incorporate personal branding activities into your routine, you will progress much faster and have more fun doing it.
Not having a proper online presence
You can’t count on other brands’ online real estate if yours is not on point.
Everything needs to be relevant, appropriate, consistent, and conform to your branding strategy.
If you go on social media rampages here and then go weeks without making a single post, that does not help much. You need to develop routines and be consistent about them.
Casting too wide of an audience net
Trying to appeal to everyone will make your personal brand vague and generic.
Remember to narrow down your brand to markets, services, and techniques, and opt for maximum authority in those areas.
Focusing too much on credentials
While credentials are important, they are not enough to make your personal brand memorable and relatable.
You should also focus on creating helpful and simple content that showcases your expertise and personality as an architect.
Or, think of it as creating an experience for everyone who gets in touch with your brand online or offline.
This is possibly the ugliest and the most common personal branding mistake that architects can make.
Your brand does not necessarily need to be 100% revealing about your personality. “Just be yourself” is never good branding advice; you DO have to be something you’re initially not, but your brand needs to be an organic continuation of your personality.
Don’t try to copy someone else’s brand if it does not fit your personality. You can tweak the way you formulate things, but you still need to be authentic and genuine above anything else.
Pay extra attention to the way you interact with people on social media and in person. Most of the time, people can tell if you’re trying too hard.