The Elements of a Personal Brand

Note:  This is an excerpt from a presentation that I gave recently for a group of executive level job seekers.  I thought it was worth repeating here.

Yesterday was the last day of your job search for the rest of your life!  Because today I’m going to teach you how to break free from the rat race and take back control of your career forever!

Today I am hiring you to be the CEO of the brand called You.

But let me tell you a secret, it’s not about “You.”

It’s really about me!

Me, as in “the Company.”  Me as in “The Business Owner,” Me, as in “the Customer.”

And you see, I have problems.  Big problems!  Expensive problems!  Problems that give me headaches and make me crazy and cost me money.  And I’ll do almost anything to get rid of those problems!

And that’s where you come in.

Starting today, instead of spending countless hours filling out applications online in what feels like a fruitless job search, you’re going to start building your brand from the ground up keeping in mind the most important thing.  The problems you solve for me.   Starting today, you are going to brand yourself as “The Expert!”

Here’s a secret:  Brand yourself as the “Founder of” something.

For example, Rich and Jeff Sloan are the Founders of StartupNation. Bill Gates is the Founder of Microsoft and Steve Jobs is the Founder of Apple. But you don’t have to start a company to be the founder of something.  Just give your expertise a name.  For example, Peter Shankman (Hi Peter!) is the Founder of Help a Reporter Out, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley are the Founders of KISS.  

This works nicely into your 30 second commercial at networking events because then when you say, “I am the founder of…” people will say, “Oh yeah, what’s that?”  Great conversation starter and ice-breaker!

And let me tell you another secret:  If you start branding yourself today, you can start gathering new clients tomorrow!

But let me warn you… once you start you just can’t stop… because if you do, you’ll find yourself as stale and unwanted as a piece of French bread left out on the counter on a hot Arizona day.

So the question is..What is a brand?  Here are a few definitions from a few of my participants.

“A brand is a collection of perceptions in the mind of the consumer”.


“Branding is all about sending a strong and consistent message.”

“It is the emotional and psychological relationship you have with your customers. Strong brands elicit thoughts, emotions, and sometimes physiological responses from customers.”

I like what New Media Expert Chris Brogan says, “A strong personal brand is a mix of reputation, trust, attention, and execution.”

So as you brand yourself, here are some things to keep in mind.

The elements of a brand:

Brand Position

  • What you do and for whom. Ask: who is your ideal client?
  • Key competitive differentiators, what makes the brand different from its competitors

Brand Promise

  • The one most important thing that the brand promises to deliver to its customers – every time! What is your unique selling proposition?  (USP?)
  • What customers can expect from every interaction, how should they feel as customers

Brand Personality

  • What the brand is to be known for-i.e., fun, integrity, quality, professionalism, etc.
  • Personality traits that people use to describe the company. What comes to the (potential) customer’s mind when addressed about the brand

Brand Story

  • Your history and how the history adds value and credibility to the brand-what you’ve accomplished

Brand Associations

  • Physical attributes; the way you look and dress, logo, colors, taglines, fonts, imagery
  • Ideally, it must reflect the all the above statements about the brand and the company

Whether you have done it intentionally or not, you already have a brand.  The question is, what is it?  By identifying what it currently is you can decide what adjustments you need to make to get it where you want to be.  Your brand will ultimately become a very important part of your success.  Brand wisely.

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