Branding 101: What is personal branding?

Happy New Year!

As I alluded to in my end of year posting, I want to begin this year with the basics – the fundamental premise of branding (specifically, personal branding), and the importance of distinguishing yourself as a leader.

By definition, a brand is a design, mark, symbol or other device that distinguishes one line or type of goods from those of a competitor. Subsequently, branding is assigning value or attributes that distinguish one thing from another, thereby creating an identity in the minds of others about a product or service.

In his 1997 article “The Brand Called You”, Tom Peters noted the importance of understanding the importance of personal branding, declaring “…we are CEO’s of our own companies – Me, Inc.”. When I first read Peters’ article 15 years ago, it revolutionized my way of thinking of myself – and the inherent value I possess AND bring to each organization I’m aligned with.

Peters’ pronouncement made me realize that each of us has a personal brand – an aspect of our identity that can create value in the minds of others. Corporate brands for products and services (e.g. Apple, Wal-Mart, Coca-Cola, IBM, and more) influence us because:

  • They are highly recognizable
  • They inspire the loyalty of their customers
  • They are a recognizable promise of value that convey quality and strength to those who continually use them

Likewise, we as leaders have developed and cultivated our own brands that create an identity about us (our work ethic, our ability to communicate, our reputations, and more). One could argue that effective leaders distinguish themselves from their ineffective cohorts through cultivating personal brands that attest to their exemplary skills.

Whether we realize it our not, we all have personal brands – qualities about us that have caused others to form opinions about us. Ideally, we too can create value in the hearts and minds of those whom we lead and collaborate with, and we are seen as leaders who:

  • Are highly recognizable – we’re not afraid to offer our expertise when the need arises
  • Inspire trust and loyalty from those who follow us
  • Are promises of value – we consistently deliver on promises made

Next week, I’ll write more about the specifics of developing your personal brand – beginning with your own mission statement…stay tuned!


One response to “Branding 101: What is personal branding?

  1. Pingback: Branding 101: What is your mission statement? | The Leader's Brand·

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