Personal branding is the practice of marketing and presenting yourself as a brand. The purpose is to ensure that those may work with you know what they’re “buying”. Designing and shaping your brand through a personal branding activity may help you progress at work.

Summary by The World of Work Project

Personal Brand

A personal brand is what someone is known for and what others associate with them, and personal branding is a way for individuals to think about what it is that they present outwardly in the world. The concepts behind personal branding are similar to those of the PVI model.

An image of a brand label, representing a personal branding activity.
How do people think of you?

Personal branding assumes that a significant element of success can be based on how individuals package and present themselves. Individuals often look to create a personal brand that they believe will help them progress towards whatever specific goals they set themselves, particularly within their career. Personal branding as a concept is quite aligned to the “personality ethic” school of personal development.

A Simple Personal Branding Activity

Understanding your market, customers and strengths is key to all branding, including personal branding. And just like all branding, there are multiple stages to creating and managing you personal brand. The following steps may be worth considering:

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1 – Understand your Customers

Reflect on the marketplace you operate within. What types of skills, behaviors and reputations are your customers buying? What reputational factors could you embody that would make you attractive to them?

2 – Understand your Strengths

Undertake an honest appraisal of your strengths. What are the things that you’re good at, and what are you not so good at? Which of your behaviors are strengths? What good traits come easily to you, and which ones take more effort?

Everyone has strengths, what are yours?

3 – Choose your Brand

The third step of this personal branding activity is to choose your brand.

Look at what your customers want and the skills you have. Where are there overlaps? What can you choose to focus on that will help you stand out from the crowd? Choose the key factors that you want to define you as a brand and write them down in a way that you can relate to and which you find motivating.

4 – Live your Brand

Once you’ve identified your brand you need to live it. You need to consistently deliver the things you’re known for and behave in the way you want to be perceived. You may wish to market / share your personal brand with others.

5 – Measure Performance and Repeat

As with all brands, you need to regularly assess the performance of your personal brand. Seek feedback from people that matter. Is your brand something people still want? Repeating this process is key to ensuring that your brand remains popular.

Learning More

To help you decide how you really want to be perceived in work consider learning more about personal values, motivation, self-awareness and character.

It’s also worth considering the importance of showing who we really are in work. The more we show our real selves, including our vulnerability, the more people trust us.

These steps are all important if we want to lead with authentic leadership. You can learn more about this in our podcast on the topic below:

The World of Work Project View

A personal brand is really just a reputation. Everyone has one, whether they actively manage it or not. There is no harm in thinking about your reputation, what you’d like your reputation to be and what steps you can take to help you create the reputation that you aspire to.

a stylish woman representing a personal branding activity.
It’s probably better to be yourself rather than a designing brand, whoever you happen to be.

As with all these outwards facing approaches to improvement, it’s really best to be honest with yourself and develop a personal brand that’s aligned to your underlying core values, abilities and natural ways of working. Trying to present as something you are not doesn’t usually end well for anyone involved.

From a leadership perspective, discussing personal branding is a simple way for leaders to start a conversation with individuals about their reputations. Personal brands may also be a useful way to get people to think about feedback and the importance of perceptions.

A brand logo being designed on a lap top representing a personal branding activity.

Our overall view on the subject, though, is that personal branding is a bit of a gimmick of a concept and that it’s much better to understand yourself, be yourself and strive to improve yourself throughout your working life.

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This post is based on our experiences delivering projects and training that has included personal brand exercises. There are no specific references for it.

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