Master your personal brand. Lessons from Christina Lemieux, the “Lobster Girl”
A few weeks back I attended a great free workshop at CodeNode London on mastering your personal brand. The workshop was led by Christina Lemieux, an international Planning Director for Leo Burnett agency and a passionate blogger about … lobsters.
In this post, I want to summarise a few key points that I took away from the workshop, which I found incredibly useful.
Building a personal brand is something that has been on the back of my mind for as long time. Even though I am used to working on branding for clients in my graphics work, developing and sustaining a brand for myself has always been a challenging task. After all, it is much easier to work on other people’s identity, when you are “safe” and detached from the subject matter. But creating and showing your own identity to the world is different. One can easily neglect their own branding online or make very simple mistakes, which can prevent them from showing their skills and talents as well as they could.
In the workshop, Christina gave us some really helpful tips to help us define our personal brand, which I am going to share with you here.
1. Define your story.
Personal branding is a story of you, told in a simple and digestible way.
Christina started the workshop by sharing her own story with us. Having read about her beforehand, I was expecting her to speak about a career in advertising. To my surprise, Christina started by telling us about her childhood in a fishing village called Cutler Maine, where for generations her family worked in the lobster industry. At first, the image of Christina as a lobster devotee did not marry well in my mind with a pre-conceived idea of her as an advertising professional. However, Christina explained, that when she was starting to write her blog, she had a big dilemma. Should she start writing about marketing and advertising, like most of her colleagues did, or should she find something uniquely personal to focus on?
Christina chose to stick with her personal story, and it really paid off. Not only was she able to affirm herself as a leader in her specific niche — lobster fishing, but she also created a memorable image that helped her stand out from others and even helped her to get a book deal.
Hearing this story was a revelation. It made me realise, that it was worth sharing something quirky and personal about yourself. Before I thought that sharing some details about my life wouldn’t be appropriate for my professional image, but after listening to Christina, I could see how being yourself could be used to your advantage. After all, we are all human and we want to connect with each other on a personal level, so it absolutely makes sense.
Christina also named 5 principles for powerful stories:
I think the lobster story really fits the bill.
Christina’s exercise: Take a few minutes to think about YOUR personal story.
Illustration by Anya Kuvarzina
2. Build credibility by publishing your own content.
The next jigsaw puzzle of building your own personal brand is to publish your own content, which relates to your personal story. In Christina’s case, she did this by writing a blog about all things related to lobster fishing.
By reading her blog, people were able to see that she was an expert in her field. Eventually, that led to a book contract.
So whatever your story is, whether you are a designer or an illustrator, write about your journey and your process regularly. It helps prospective clients and other industry professionals to get to know you better. After all, most people would rather work with somebody they personally know, than a complete stranger. There are many platforms where you can write your own content: on your own blog, on social media, or on dedicated blogging sites like Medium.
Publishing posts regularly and consistently will help you build credibility (and it’s also great for SEO).
3. Audit your online presence.
Next, Christina asked us to do a simple exercise.
She asked to google our own names in an incognito window in our browser. (Googling in a “private” browser session gives you results which are not dependant on your search history.)
After googling your name, you should check that all the links that come up match the story of your personal brand. She also urged us to check the “images” tab, and do an audit of all the images that come up on top. Do they help you tell your story?
From my own results, I was quite happy with my google search, as it mostly featured the images of my illustrations. This is partly because I always include my own name in the title when saving a file for the web, for example, “anya-kuvarzina-illustration”.
However, I found one area where I can still improve, which was my personal photograph. I realised that some of my photographs had nothing to do with design and illustration and that gave me an idea how to improve.
Christina pointed out that for a long time her own profile image was just a nice photograph of herself, but it didn’t tell a story about her lobster connections. So she changed her profile images to feature herself with lobsters or with her book so that the image told her story immediately.
Use pictures that add to your story.
Christina also asked us to make sure that our social media profile bios are effective in telling our stories in 140 characters. She asked us to be selective and use emojis if necessary, for example, flags – to give a sense of place.
4. Use your brand to speak up.
The last point from Christina’s lecture was to raise your voice, meaning, to get involved in online debates and discussions about your topic. She recommended to set up news alerts within our industries to comment and share important news and updates on social media.
Raise your voice.
This can mean both offering your ideas and engaging in conversations, and also using your brand to speak up about ideas that you feel are important.
For me, I decided that I will use my online platforms to speak about things that I care about, even if they don’t necessarily line up with an “ideal” image of an illustrator that people expect to see. I think it is important to be yourself in everything you do, and I would not want to change the way I behaved for anything, let alone twitter.
To conclude, crafting a personal brand is not a quick process. I find that my online presence is constantly changing, partly because I am constantly changing as a person. However, after listening to Christina’s talk, it made me think about a few central themes in my story that I could use to make my personal brand more memorable.
I hope that this information was helpful to you too.
Please follow Christina Lemieux here: