I devote a substantial amount of time talking about personal branding in this space. However, I’ve realized that though nearly everybody has heard of personal branding, many people aren’t clear on exactly what it is and how it is defined. A great way to understand the concept is as follows… when somebody hears your name, what pops into their head? That’s your brand, for better or for worse. Try a few examples: when you hear the name Michael Jordan, what do you think? Competitor? Basketball player? Winner? How about Nelson Mandela?
Obviously Nelson Mandela and Michael Jordan are better known than most of us. But everyone has the opportunity to develop and project their personal brand in the context of their own life. As an employee, your personal brand will go a long way in determining your career trajectory. What does your boss think of you? Are you motivated and determined? Or maybe you’re the guy who is easily distracted and has trouble finishing projects on time… if that’s the case, you need to rebrand yourself ASAP!
So has your brand been predetermined for you? Not at all! The great thing about personal branding is that it’s an ongoing process. If you aren’t happy with your brand, you can change it! If you’re pleased, you can reinforce it and expose it to new audiences.
So how do you determine what your brand should be? Ask yourself “what do I want to be known for?” Maybe you want to be known as a brilliant programmer, a great dancer or an insightful business analyst. Mix in your personality—do you have a great sense of humor? Or maybe you’re proud of your laser-like focus. You should have a theme emerging—something like “talented, motivated financial guru with a great sense of humor.” That’s the core of your brand. Branding can be more than just your professional life, however. Are you a family man? A mother? A devoted spouse? These elements of your personal life also play an important part in defining your brand. Take this information, think hard about what you want to be known for, and distill it down to a handful of words. That’s your personal brand!