I’ve been finding myself talking about a certain topic a lot lately—more accurately, I’ve been soapboxing to the many young candidates who have been coming through our office at a growing rate. The subject is this—the importance of understanding (and leaning into) our own personal brand. The Brand of Me and The Brand of I. We talk all the time to our clients about the importance of knowing what their brand is, but how many of us practice what we preach when it comes to ourselves? What’s our unique thing? What’s our voice? Who am I? And this is not to make something as complex and real as a “me” or “I” sound like a product on a shelf by asking, “what’s our USP?” – but what is our USP? Just like a product on a shelf, if we don’t know what makes us stand out, we’ll quickly find ourselves in the Generic Aisle. I see this often with young candidates who are looking for their first or second job—they want to be so “standard-issue advertising” that their true personality gets lost before it ever had a chance. We can get too wrapped up in trying to be what we think others want us to be, we forget to be who we are. Personally, I’d like to see more of the Friday night version of a candidate than the Monday morning job search version. Your tics, talents, special interests and point of view about the business and why we should hire you—these are the things I want to know. If you’re looking to get into advertising, you might as well approach it like the sit-com that it is—and know your role going in. Most importantly, your unique brand should show up in your work. Show a consistent, unique voice throughout—an appreciation for a certain school of humor, or music, a maniacal ownership of a certain type of design—and don’t be afraid to let that work also be an expression of you. I have the highest appreciation for ad schools, but if there’s one beef I have with them, it’s that the good work that comes from them is often the same kind of good. The same typeface, humor, tone. The best schools are the ones who teach the importance of craft, while also stressing the importance of students finding, honing and owning their own voice. I told myself I wouldn’t get on my soapbox, and here I am on my soapbox again.