Wednesday, March 25, 2015

How to Ensure You Do You: Your Brand Is Not A Features And Benefits List


Brought to you by Pernilla Peterson, March Madness, Basketball and Will Ferrell

Storytelling in advertising isn’t anything new. We all talk about it. We (should) always think about it. And while advertising as an industry is usually in the forefront when it comes to personal brands and the expressions thereof (resumes, portfolio, social media presence) many of us still treat our brand as long features and benefits list. Although social media has enabled many to express more personal slants, most of our traditional points of self-promotion and communications are stale.

We are better than that.

A couple of years ago when I decided it was time for me to move on from my then company I started the daunting tasks of getting a new portfolio site ready and updating my resume. I pulled up my old one. So many words. So little personality.


It said nothing about me other than where and when I worked and the best action verbs my little mind could muster. But as all of us who have screened candidates know, you need some flavor, some hint of personality or people start to blend together. You don’t want to be someone that blends. Yet precious few dare to put their personalities out there. I’m here to tell you that you should.


What’s a more compelling story than how you got to this point in your career? What’s more interesting than getting a glimpse of who someone truly is as a person? Doesn’t years of experience deserve more than stale action verbs? Are my multiple questions getting through how frustrated people treating their personal brands like a features and benefits list makes me?

We recently hired an amazing designer – Aja Lyshee. One of the things I adored was how she speaks about herself and how her personality shines through ( When people have a good sense about you before even meeting you, you have already won – you are seen as interesting and relatable.


Or check out the amazing Rebecca LaRue’s blog about how she came to be a designer. It’s personal, vulnerable and COMPELLING.

Here at Rightpoint we are flexible in all ways imaginable. But we will never budge on hiring people who have passion, compassion and a wee bit of flair. And having been on the side of helping decide whom to hire a couple of times in my career I say with conviction that most things being equal, personality wins. So why are so many afraid to show it? Traditional resumes and portfolios make us all sound the same when we are all special snowflakes. (no it’s not just your mom)

“But I am not a designer!” you say. “My puggle wouldn’t be appropriate to include on a summary about myself.” First off: there is always an appropriate spot for puggles. But I hear you. There are many ways to incorporate story telling into your resume or portfolio without adding pictures or risk being unprofessional. Such as:

1. Be you and be comfortable with it.


Whether professionally or personally, people spot a fake quickly. So if you are comfortable with a joke, add one. If not, don’t do it.

2. Story telling doesn’t mean waxing poetically.

Simmer down. I am not saying you can’t use bullet points. Your brand still needs to be scannable and brief. Leveraging story telling is less about being verbose and more about finding your tone. (I was going to say “voice” but just no.) Trying and failing at being unique is always better than winning at copying everyone else.

3. Your professional life is a highlight reel, not a features timeline:

When you are out with friends or on a date you tell your best and most outrageous stories, right? The engaging ones, the fun ones…the ones that show some humility and put you in a good light. Your professional brand and the extensions thereof are no different.


Highlight the best and bullet the rest. Showcase the Sportscenter worthy.

So back to pretty much exactly two years ago - as I pulled my work together I, for the first time in my career, felt comfortable enough to put something out there that spoke more about ME. Not a safe, watered down version of me. I ended up taking immense care in writing about myself the way I took care in writing and designing for my clients. I wrote about myself the way I wanted people to know me. It’s not award winning. It’s not necessarily ground breaking. But it’s ME and the response was shockingly positive. Turns out, I am not the only one bored with the same ol’ same ol’. It ended up looking something like this:


By being outwardly honest about who we truly are as professionals and people, what kind of fit we are looking for and what we are passionate about we can land somewhere amazing. And most importantly, it did what it was supposed to do – it helped me land my dream job in a place that’s perfect for ME. Now that’s something to celebrate.