Own What Makes You You: Using Personal Branding in the Digital Age

By: David Malecki

6 minute read

My name is David Malecki. I am studying advertising and public relations with a minor in marketing at West Virginia University. I am really interested in photography and videography, and recently got a job with the University as a photographer. 

Now wasn’t that boring?

The fact is, no brand is more important to you than your own brand. Imagine if I could tell an exciting story with no more than a few words, or even no words at all – that’s the beauty of personal branding.

Consider this introduction instead:

When the world was at a distinct turning point in early 2020, my insatiable curiosity led me to take up an opportunity to truly learn photography. Seeing photo credits to David Malecki in print for the first time was an unforgettable experience. This moment also compelled me to change majors to advertising, because I want to be a creative voice for a brand or organization. As a result of this, I have started a freelance business, accumulated several awards, became a photographer for the Daily Athenaeum and Mirage Magazine, and have obtained a highly desirable position as a photographer for West Virginia University Relations. Yet my story is only just beginning. 

Me during a photoshoot with my cheesy Western Hat and button-up, a signature look I have adapted through the years.

Here’s how it can be applied:

While my personal branding education is just beginning, I would like to share four techniques that have been important on my journey. I will discuss various things that can help make a strong personal brand such as logos, buzz words, colors, stylistic choices, and even a consistent outfit or accessory like a watch or glasses that make your signature style.


As college students in the age of online technology and social media, it’s more important than ever to make more than just a good impression. But the fact of the matter is, in this world where everyone is seemingly individual and “uniquely you,” why does it seem like no one takes advantage of just one unique thing about them and goes with it? 

Here are 4 of what I believe to be the most important factors in successful personal branding in the digital age.

1. Create your own color pallet and logo

An important thing to consider about your own branding is the mood you cast based on your clothing colors. For me, wearing blue, green or tan is very common. Green brings attributes of freshness as well as success from the color of money. While blue, with its calming effect, is linked to wisdom and intellect.  For more information on what colors represent, click here.

Next, create a logo using your strong colors. Let it visually represent you by using your passions or objects you like. For example, using a camera into the logo to show your love for creative storytelling. It can be simple and not distracting and can go a long way in defining who you are with no words. Simply for my resume, I applied a graphic of a video camera, my circle glasses, and a photo camera.

A brief overview of my resume incorporating visual elements such as my colors, graphics, and a photo.

2. Develop your story using strong buzzwords

For this, consider some strong words from here. Then, really think about the best attributes of you and the words that define you in a powerful way. For extra emphasis, use an adverb to support the chosen word, such as saying ambitiously driven. For me, the words I would like to use are creative, kind-hearted, insatiably curious, and adaptable. 

From this selection of words, choose a few to incorporate into a true story about yourself. It can be long or short, but a deep narrative is much more compelling than some surface-level facts. Think back to the beginning of this writing, how much of a difference using the right words brought. 

3. Have a distinct “look”

An overlooked but incredibly important part of personal branding is how you look. Having a consistent favorite outfit can define you, and people will become familiar with the look. After all, would Steve Jobs be Steve Jobs if he didn’t wear his black turtleneck, jeans, and white New Balance sneakers?  Even Oprah Winfrey changed her personal branding early in her career before becoming her well known and renowned self.

he consistent yet iconic look of Steve Jobs throughout his years. Sometimes it only takes 1 unique outfit to be connected to you.

It could be as simple as a bright watch, a pen in a shirt pocket, or a pair of distinct glasses. Our University President Gee is often seen with circular glasses and a bow tie, which people immediately associate with him. Even in our own Martin Hall, Professor Borghese is seldom seen at work without his signature black polo. Style!

WVU President, E.Gordon Gee in his usual bowtie and glasses, how he is almost always seen on campus.

4. Connect your personal brand to the world

If you are not incorporating personal branding into your personal life, you are setting yourself up for professional failure. Being genuine is more important now than ever, with social media creeping into our personal and professional lives. 

With the explosive success of TikTok and other social media, keeping up with these platforms to capitalize on who you are is an incredible opportunity to make a name for yourself. 

Personal branding is something that everyone should in corporate into their professional as well as personal life, no matter their career preference. It will help them stand out from the crowd of nameless faces as a refreshing one. “Whether you have a date or a job interview, chances are someone is going to Google you to learn more about who you are.”  

After all, you should own it if it makes you distinctly you

Works Cited

Chan, G. (8 November 2018). 10 Golden Rules Of Personal Branding. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/goldiechan/2018/11/08/10-golden-rules-personal-branding/?sh=46724e3458a7

Castrillon, C. (12 February 2019). Why Personal Branding Is More Important Than Ever. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/carolinecastrillon/2019/02/12/why-personal-branding-is-more-important-than-ever/?sh=6d93f4022408

Color Psychology: What Colors Should You Wear and Why. Science of People. https://www.scienceofpeople.com/color-psychology/

Weiner, W. (15 March 2019). 5 Words to Describe Yourself When Building Your Personal Brand. Thrive Global

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