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Personal Brands: Fact or Fiction?


When discussing career advice and professional growth, we often hear the term “your personal brand”. To some, the phrase can come across as corny or self-serving. It does seem quite bold to think that just like corporations such as Apple or Starbucks, you as an individual also have a brand. Is a personal brand a real thing, or is this just some trendy jargon used by bloggers and social media enthusiasts? The last thing any of us needs is another area of our professional lives to worry about.

Whether or not you want a personal brand is irrelevant, you already have one. Your personal brand is nothing more than your professional image or reputation. Yes—there are countless articles out there about how to take your personal brand to a whole new level. Some career advice gurus suggest op-eds in local papers, speaking engagements, etc. If you’re like most of us, there are not enough hours in the day for such ventures.

Don’t worry, managing your personal brand doesn’t have to be another item to add to your to do list. If you’re like most driven, professional women, you’ve probably already given time and thought to your professional image – you just didn’t realize it was the same thing as your personal brand.

The idea behind developing a personal brand is to stop thinking of yourself as an employee. Start thinking of yourself as a brand. A brand, such as that of Nike or Nordstrom, is carefully managed.

We’ll break it down for you…

Know Your Goals and How to Get There

When Nike meets with its marketing team, they set goals: We want to make this amount of money. We want to sell this much athletic apparel. We want our customers to have this perception of our company.

In the same way, you need to know where you want to go professionally. Do you want to make a jump into a different department or be given a broader portfolio of work? Do you want to start your own business and need investors?

Know What You Bring to The Table

Know your strengths and don’t be afraid to broadcast them. Company brands succeed when they become known for something. Walmart –low prices. Energizer – long lasting. Subway – fresh. These companies have spent millions of dollars and years of their time making sure you know what the best thing about them is. We need to do the same for our own personal brand. We do this by volunteering for projects where our talents shine and finding opportunities to show colleagues the aspects of our job where we do our best work.

Know What You’re Broadcasting to the World

The concept of a personal brand was first coined in an article by Tom Peters. The 1997 article has a lot of great content, and it’s mid-nineties references to “the Web” and “the Net” remind us how far technology has come in the last twenty years. Since the article was written, the internet has grown in ways we could not have imagined and social media has taken over our lives.

Everything we put out into the world makes an impression on people. As many have found out the hard way, what you put on the internet does not go away. This means your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and emails are all part of your personal brand. Your entire online presence contributes to your personal brand in a huge way. Don’t believe me? Google your first and last name followed by where you live. You might be shocked by all the information available.

If you’re like most professional women and don’t have time for the articles telling you how to self-promote by guest-blogging or sitting on an expert panel, you can still successfully manage your personal brand with your own self-awareness.All companies manage their brand by being aware of who they are and where they want to go, and you can easily do the same.