How do I brand myself?

Dear Edahn,

I'm trying to do my design portfolio right now and I don't know how I want to brand myself because I have a lot of talent. Any advice?

BRANDING YOURSELF IS HARD when you're creative and competent. It's hard to decide which product represents you and which you want to focus on throughout your career. But it's important part of your development as a professional. People will be more likely to hire you when they have a sense of what type of work they're going to get, so it's important that you create a strong, consistent, commercially viable brand.

APPROACH #1: Talk to a mentor or teacher you really respect. Bring your portfolio and see what they say.

APPROACH #2: Gather all your work and lay it out on a table. Try and rank your stuff across 4 factors:
  1. Is it commercially viable?
  2. Am I proud of it?
  3. Did I enjoy making it?
  4. Do I like looking at it?
  5. Did it reflect some part of my personality?
Find the pieces that rank highest and start building a new portfolio around it. All the pieces in your portfolio should have the same voice. (Samples.) When you finish putting your portfolio together get some feedback from your mentors. If you need to build 2 portfolios, that's okay too, but keep them separate to avoid diluting your brand.

The real challenge here is transitioning from student to businessperson. As a student, you don't have any restrictions on what you create, but as a businessperson you're using your work to make a living. You have to be thoughtful and channel your creativity in ways that feed your brand and business. It takes restraint and maturity, but it's something you have to do.