You don’t need a personal brand

13Mar09

There has been a lot written  and spoken over the past years about personal brand.  The first thing I remember reading was by Tom Peters and it was written in the late 1990’s: www.fastcompany.com/magazine/10/brandyou.html.  

Since then the concept has continued to spread so that today entire consultancies are built around it.

Brand You.  You, the Brand.  Branding You.  And so on.  The premise is that the principles and disciplines of branding can be (and should be) applied to way more than consumer products.  They should be applied by individuals for their own benefit. 

I happen to agree with this.  I speak about it now and then.  I teach it.  I encourage my clients to embrace it.

However, I have noticed that many people I talk with about personal branding today think it is about promoting themselves effectively online – Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, company websites, personal websites, blogs, etc.

Great brands, whether they are products, companies, the U.S. Marines, or individual people, stand for something that emotionally connects with their target audience.   They communicate well with that audience.   They have an authentic presence that influences their target audience.  They are consistent.  They create loyalty and advocacy.

The term “target audience” may seem awkward  when applied to a personal brand but think of it this way – which people or groups of people are critical to your success at work?  Whom do you most need to influence to get where you want to be in your career?  This is your target audience.  And while it is very important to get your online presence right, is that really the place and time where you are influencing your audience the most?

Oh, why did I say that you don’t need a personal brand?  Well, because you have one already.  I know, it’s a little gimmicky, but I was trying to hook you into reading further….

When your name comes up at work or at school, a word comes to mind that describes you.  That’s your brand today.

Each of us already has an image, a reputation, an identity in the minds of most of the people we need to influence to achieve career success – our peers, our boss, our customers, our employees.   Many of my executive clients have a brand in the media or the investment community or within their industry as a whole.

Of course creating a personal brand requires much more than just knowing your “word,” although that is a good starting point.   

So, it’s not whether you need a brand or not – it’s that you need to know what it is, take ownership of it, care for it. 

What do you think?

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