Guest Speaker Robin Landa: Build Your Brand

Columbia University guest speaker Robin Landa helps people discover their personal brands. As a professor at Kean University and the author of Build Your Own Brand, she has helped companies as well as students bring their brands to life.

Landa says, “Your brand has to demonstrate what you can do, what you have done, what you want to do, and what you might be able to do.”

At a Strategic Communications workshop series event last year, she explained how job seekers can build their personal brands to gain clients and land new roles.

1. Be authentic.

“For you, for your personal brand, authenticity is absolutely paramount,” said Landa. Authenticity may be a current corporate buzzword, however being authentic is not as easy as it sounds. One must identify and highlight the few characteristics that truly make you uniquely you.

“It’s the things that differentiate you that you have to spotlight relentlessly.”

2. Build your world.

“Just like an author like J.K. Rowling built Harry Potter…you’re going to build a world for yourself where what you do makes total sense for your world.” She advised people to consider the nuances of their brands, and to demonstrate their complex thinking across their channels with strategic phrasing, typography, and imagery.

3. Codify your message.

“Bring everything together and create a core message,” Landa said. This codification is a systematic plan for communicating oneself to others. She suggested specific tactics that would help the audience identify their visual brands. For instance, come up with four things that represent you, and sort them in order of their relevance to who you are and what you do.

A personal brand has to be memorable, she underscored. A cohesive message helps that identity resound with your target audience.

4. Be succinct.

It’s important to remain concise. Landa urged her students to “make me understand how you think, and do it clearly so that I get it right away.” She offered an example from one former student, who used an imperfectly drawn and colorful flower logo to represent her whimsical, fun, and spontaneous approach to creative thinking. Landa also called attention to one’s social media channels, where people have no choice but to be brief in their bios and updates.

5. Offer a point of view.

She reminded the students and alumni in the audience, “When you graduate [from] a program…you’re all graduating with the same skills. So what makes you different?” She said, “It’s your sensibility…how you see the world, and how that translates into your thinking.” She encouraged the audience to imbue everything from their cover letters to their resumes to their portfolios with their unique point of view.

Learn more about the M.S. in Strategic Communications program.