Posted by: Christine Donovan | May 9, 2009

The Power of Your Personal Brand, Part 1

The Power of Your Personal Brand:  Celebrate your talent, your uniqueness, and market yourself

(My original article was posted on

When I was coming up as a young corporate manager in the ’80s, my colleagues and I heard a lot about “dressing for success” and the importance of professional image. Creating a power persona, we were told, was crucial to a successful career (especially for women), and so we read books and magazine articles, we watched Oprah guests, listened to image consultants, and learned some valuable guidelines on how to look professional and powerful.

But twenty years later, image has evolved into a broader, more strategic concept known as personal branding. Where image was primarily about the outer shell, brand goes to the core of who we are — our competence, talent, character, and personality.

“And why should I be concerned about brand?” you ask. “I’m one employee in a big company, I don’t even have a brand.”

Ah, but you do! Think about people you know and work with. I’ll bet that in five seconds you can name someone who is grouchy, friendly, helpful, funny, flakey, or sloppy. (The Seven Dwarfs were well branded come to think of it!) And you can be sure people have some adjectives to describe you as well. Such words create your distinct brand, and more often than not you have no idea what your real brand is.

What makes your brand important, is that it can have a tremendous influence on where you go in your life… if you meet your goals… even if your dreams come true.

 Will your Real Brand Please Stand Up

Like it or not – each of us already has a brand. It may, or may not be positive; it may, or may not paint the perception we want others to have of us, it may or may not be accurate… but it is there none the less. It is the top-of-mind impression others have when our name is mentioned, and if we haven’t been carefully designing and maintaining it, it has possibly evolved into something that doesn’t represent us well.

 The poet Robert Burns said, “O would some power the gift to give us to see ourselves as others see us.” Accurately seeing ourselves as others see us is one of life’s big challenges. And we often manufacture a picture of who we think we are, and frequently miss the mark. Like the children’s story, the Emperor’s New Clothes, it’s obvious to everyone but us.

 So we try to be real, but often “put on” a personality in order to be accepted into a particular social or professional group. We make an attempt to fit in through external wrappers (wardrobe, jewelry, style), social behaviors (outlandish, reticent, cynical, etc), cliché language (‘Dude!”; “value proposition”; “text me”), or other outward displays of identity.

 Unfortunately, more often than not, others see through our façade, and our personal brand is damaged… unbeknownst to us.

 So the powerful personal brand is real and at the same time projects the best of us, the part of ourselves we want others to see and appreciate.

A good brand is researched, strategized, tested and refined. Disney, Coca Cola and Lexus don’t leave their brands to chance – but spend millions in research, design, PR and advertising, all designed to protect and proliferate a consistent public image.

If the brand is tarnished, the PR machine jumps into action to right the wrong and get the brand back on a healthy track. We need to do the same for ourselves! After all, what ARE we, if not our good name?

 Our “brand” gets us jobs, promotions, sales, customers and even friends. And we so often neglect it. In fact, most of us spend little time attending to our own personal brand — the core marketing tool that should be our Number One priority.

Watch for Part 2…


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