10 Steps to an Authentic, Magnetic Personal Brand

by Meg Guiseppi on February 12, 2010

 The Executive Personal Brand Worksheet

brand-you[UPDATE: Check out My New 10-Step Executive Personal Branding Worksheet . . . to differentiate your unique value and ROI for today’s executive job search.]

With so much social media-speak and concomitant buzz about personal branding swirling around us these days, it’s no wonder that many people are confused about what branding really is.

Tom Peters coined the term “personal branding” in his 1997 article “The Brand Called You” in Fast Company.

Since then, it’s been bandied about, misrepresented, and often trashed by people who latch onto and pick apart bits and pieces of the whole concept.

Based on Tom’s insights and my training through the Reach Certified Personal Branding Strategist program, I describe personal branding in this way:

Your brand is your reputation – the combination of personal attributes, values, drivers, strengths, and passions you draw from that differentiate your unique promise of value from your peers.

It’s up to you to identify those qualities and characteristics within you, integrate your value proposition in everything you do, and communicate a crystal clear, consistent message across multiple channels – online and offline – designed to resonate with your target audience.

One of the great things about personal branding is that it helps generate chemistry for you by spotlighting your “softer” skills. Employers look for executive candidates who will be an overall best-fit for their organization. They want more than the right skill sets, knowledge base, and experience.

They want people who will fit their corporate culture, so they want to know what kind of person you are. People hire people they like. Your brand helps them assess your fit.

Personal branding is THE way to stand out above your competition in a tough job market.

The following 10 brand assessment and development exercises are based on my Reach training. Uncovering and pulling together these components requires digging deep and can be an intense, sometimes painful introspective experience, but ultimately eye-opening, affirming, and energizing.

In the end, you’ll be armed with compelling personal brand messaging to anchor and weave throughout all your online and offline career marketing communications:

1. What are your vision and purpose?

Before clearly defining your brand, look externally at the bigger picture of your vision for the world, and then internally at how you might help the world realize your vision.

2. What are your values and passions?

You have to know yourself and what you want and need before you can move forward. Your belief system and operating principles are at the core of determining whether an opportunity in front of you will be a good fit for you. If the passions that drive you aren’t met, you probably won’t be happy.

3. What are your top goals for the next year, 2 years, and 5 years?

Work on projecting what you intend to accomplish so you can put together a strategic action plan to get there.

4. Do an assessment of your top brand attributes.

What 3 or 4 adjectives best describe the value you offer? What words do you use to define your personality? Once you pinpoint what you feel are the right kinds of words, it’s a good idea to consult a thesaurus to precisely nail the exact words. Here are some possibilities, but don’t limit yourself to these:

Collaborative, resilient, forward-focused, risk-taking, connected, international, visionary, diplomatic, intuitive, precise, enterprising, ethical, genuine, accessible.

5. What are your core strengths or motivated skills?

In what functions and responsibilities do you excel? For what things are you the designated “go-to” person? What gap would your company be faced with if you left suddenly? The possibilities are endless, but here are a few suggestions:

Identifying problems, seeing the details, leading, delegating, performing analysis, fact finding, crunching numbers, anticipating risk, motivating, mentoring, innovating, managing conflict, writing, listening, communicating.

6. Get feedback from those who know you best – at work, at home, anywhere.

The true measure of your brand is the reputation others hold of you in their hearts and minds. Notice how they introduce you to others. Ask them what your top brand attributes and core strengths are. How does your self-assessment jibe with their feedback?

The 360° Reach Personal Brand Assessment, a confidential, web-based tool that collects anonymous 360-degree feedback in real time from your choice of respondents, will help you.

7. Do a SWOT analysis (Strengths – Weaknesses – Opportunities – Threats).

Strengths and weaknesses are internal, and speak to your potential value to an employer. Opportunities and threats are external, and help you foresee what you’re facing in next career steps.

SWOT is an invaluable personal branding exercise that also helps prepare you for interviewing and future career growth and stability.

8. Who is your target audience?

Determine where you want to fit in (industry and niche area of expertise). Learn what decision makers in that field are looking for when they’re vetting candidates. Find out where those decision makers hang out and what key words will attract them. Position yourself in front of them and capture their attention.

9. Who is your competition in the marketplace and what differentiates you from them?

What does your competition typically have to offer? Determine what attributes, strengths and passions come together to make you the best hiring choice for organizations that you know are a good mutual fit. What value do you bring to the table that no one else does?

10. Remember the 3 Cs of personal branding:

A strong personal brand communications plan embraces these 3 characteristics:

  • Clarity – be clear about who you are and who you are not.
  • Consistency – steadfastly express your brand across all communications channels – online and offline.
  • Constancy – strong brands are always visible to their target audience.

More about the 3 Cs: Health Insurance for Your Personal Brand.

The work involved in uncovering your brand may seem daunting, but your efforts will benefit you immeasurably. In job search, developing and communicating your personal brand can pre-qualify you as a good fit, clearly showcase why you’re the best hiring choice, and position you to land your next great gig.

© Copyright, 2010, Meg Guiseppi. All rights reserved. The content in this post, and elsewhere on this site, may not be reproduced, republished, reprinted or distributed without written permission.

Related posts:

What Personal Branding is NOT

How NOT to Build Your Executive Personal Brand


{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Meg Guiseppi August 2, 2011 at 12:09 pm

You’re absolutely right, Rusty.

Defining your brand takes time and effort, and is more involved than coming up with a jazzy tagline. Doing the work helps you better focus your job search, and to understand and communicate what differentiates your ROI value from your job-seeking competitors.

Thanks for commenting!

2 Rusty Tyson! August 2, 2011 at 11:21 am

Yes, Meg, I definitely got the message from your article that one cannot create one’s brand as simply as stirring/up a cup of instant cocoa or coffee. It will take some serious time and commitment to think/through and work/through all ten of these steps. And it would seem disingenuous to even think one is done without reading at least the 21 articles referenced as “trackbacks” and probably some of their references as well. Thanks for your survey of branding; it seems a good beginning.
All th’ e-Best

3 Meg Guiseppi September 8, 2010 at 1:15 pm

Hi GL,

Thanks for dropping by and commenting. I’m glad you found my post of value.

Some people who misunderstand branding feel that they can “create” their brand. They make the mistake of crafting a catchy tagline wrapped around who they strive to be, and call it “branding”. Instead of latching on to something because it sounds good, they neglect working on authentic branding which reflects our reputation, what differentiates us from our peers, and our current value promise.

4 GL HOFFMAN September 8, 2010 at 10:51 am

This was a very thoughtful and insightful piece on personal branding. The first line “your brand is your reputation,” is the clearest and most relevant take-away for many of us. Everything else is secondary, methinks.
Keep up the great work!

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