Branding is big buzz these days.
On the one hand, that’s good. With more information out there, the value of personal branding is hitting home with more people and branding is more likely to become embedded in the fabric of healthy career management, job search, and career marketing.
On the other hand, that’s bad. With all the buzz come thousands of talking heads and self-professed experts who constantly pound us with misinformation. With so much noise, flash, and bravado, it’s no wonder so many people are confused about personal branding.
They’re busy latching on to bits and pieces and stopping short of the whole picture.
Things I’ve read from various misinformed bloggers:
“Most of the time ‘personal branding’ is a fancy word for ‘narcissism’.”
“In a sense, it is shameless self publicity.”
“The premise of personal branding (in case you haven’t been exposed to it) is that success doesn’t come from personal development or hard work or intelligence. Instead, personal branding proponents claim that success comes from self-packaging.”
“I think personal branding is a sham. The idea that you can have one thing that consistently defines you in all contexts of your life is ridiculous.”
If you believe these and other disparagers who feel compelled to set the world straight about the frivolity of personal branding, you may never know the true value of defining and communicating your own authentic brand.
To be clear:
- Personal branding is NOT just a buzz word, the latest passing fad.
- Personal branding is NOT merely ego-stroking and self-promotion.
- Personal branding is NOT just a catchy logo or tagline.
Here’s the real deal:
Personal branding is not new. It’s always been with us. Before there was a name for it, people were assessing other people’s reputation and promise of value before deciding whether to partner, hire, or do business with them.
Tom Peters coined the phrase in his Fast Company article “The Brand Called You” in 1997 and explained it this way:
“We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc.
You’re hired, you report to work, you join a team — and you immediately start figuring out how to deliver value to the customer. Along the way, you learn stuff, develop your skills, hone your abilities, move from project to project.
And if you’re really smart, you figure out how to distinguish yourself from all the other very smart people walking around with $1,500 suits, high-powered laptops, and well-polished resumes. Along the way, if you’re really smart, you figure out what it takes to create a distinctive role for yourself — you create a message and a strategy to promote the brand called You.”
According to William Arruda, personal branding pioneer and founder of Reach Branding, “Your brand resides in the hearts and minds of those around you.”
You already have a brand. Your brand is your reputation.
To get a handle on and communicate the unique value you offer – your brand – you need to do some digging to define the unique set of strengths, personal attributes, and drivers that differentiate you from your peers and competitors.
Along with introspection, the true measure of your brand comes from eliciting and assimilating feedback from those who know you best. They already know what your brand is about. They know what you’re the “go to” person for.
The branding process also includes identifying your target audience so that your brand positioning message will resonate with them.
But branding isn’t just about marketing yourself.
Because the defining and development process looks at your vision, purpose, values and passions, branding is also a personal development tool. With this introspection comes a keener understanding of what kind of work is a best fit for you.
Branding helps you position yourself to move toward career fulfillment and work your passion.
In your career marketing communications, branding helps generate chemistry in you, what you’re like to work with, how you make things happen, and what you have to offer that no one else does.
Once you’ve defined what differentiates you and pulled together your brand, you can build a career marketing strategy to consistently communicate your unique promise of value to your target audience across multiple channels, online and offline.
Your brand makes it easier for recruiters and hiring decision makers to decide if you’re a good fit for their organization, and whether to hire you or do business with you.
If working through the personal branding process can help you find career fulfillment, better communicate to employers why you’re the best hiring choice, make their hiring decision easier, and most likely get you into your next great gig faster, isn’t it worth the effort?
photo by bgottsab