PERSONAL BRANDING 101 – Three key Do’s and Three Key Do Not’s


What is a Personal Brand?


Before we can select the right personal brand and start promoting it to our target audience, we need to know what exactly a personal brand is. There are two definitions: one short and one long.

Long Version

A personal brand is a personal identity that stimulates a meaningful emotional response in a target audience about the values or qualities for which you stand. Our brand is our promise to our target audience which means, “If you buy me, this is what you will get.

Short Version

Our personal brand is the word or phrase we want people to think of when they think of us.


Three Do’s When Selecting Your Personal Brand


Be Authentic

Selecting the right personal brand begins with authenticity.

A personal brand must be a part of who we are as human beings. A true reflection of us as a person. A personal brand is NOT what we do for a living. What we do for a living is the forum in which we get to show case our brands.

The last thing we want to do is build our brand on something we are not, but wish we were.

When many clients come to me for help on their brands, I am quick to tell them, “Look, your brand has to be a part of your personality or character that you can live effortlessly. Don’t try to be something you are not.”

It is not uncommon for me to suggest their brand is something as simple as “nice” or “reliable.”

Since most of my clients are successful, high powered professionals, this usually doesn’t go well at first. They come in wanting a brand that exudes “power” or “confidence” or “leader.” I understand this, but your brand is not about what you want. It is about what resonates with your target audience. What they want.

Case in point. A few years back a client who was a very successful title insurance broker came to me for personal brand coaching. After taking his through my process for selecting the right personal brand, I suggested to him that his brand was “reliable.” He was not happy. He is a former football quarterback, tall and good looking. You know, the kind of guy the rest of us envy.

This client wanted a brand that was sexier.

After some back and forth, I said to him, “What do you do for a living?”

“Title insurance,” he responded.

To which I sarcastically quipped, “What do you think your clients want, sexy or reliable?”

Point made. He went with reliable and has never looked back.

Guys, not everybody can be Beyoncé or Brad Pitt or Michael Jordan. Some of us have to be Urkel. And make no mistake about it, Urkel had a heck of a run as a nerd.

So, my suggestion to you is build your brand on a quality that is authentically you and which you can live effortlessly.


Build Your Brand Out


Picking the brand is easy. Building the brand out is the hard part.

I was talking to my dad a few years ago on a day when he was a bit cranky. I said to him, “Dad you have to work on your brand your brand.”

He laughed because he said he’s 78 years old. So I asked him, “Do you want your grandchildren (All 32 of them!) to say, “Hey, I am excited to see Grandpa today’ or do you want them to say, ‘Oh man, do I really have to see Grandpa today?’”

I explained to Grandpa that the only difference between the grandchildren being excited to see him and seeing him out of a sense of duty was his personal brand.

If you are breathing, you are branding. Everything we do or don’t do or say or don’t say either adds to or takes away from our personal brand credibility. How we carry ourselves, speak, dress, interact to others. Everything.

Your job is to be intentional about building your personal brand credibility. You do this by building personal brand equity. You build personal brand equity the same way you build the equity in your home. There a few major changes you can make out of the gate that can have a real WOW! Impact. The rest are small cumulative changes and improvements which, by themselves don’t add huge value, but over time they add up.

Here is my suggestion. Make a list of 100 things you can do to improve your brand and execute them. When you are finished. Do it again, and again and again.

I think you get my point.

Guard Your Personal Brand Reputation


Guard your reputation as if your life depends upon it.

I remember and experience I had in law school more than 30 years ago. It was so powerful it has stuck with me ever since. I was having a political discussion with a fellow classmate and we were disagreeing on an issue. Instead of responding substantively, my classmate took a cheap shot, and launched into an ad hominem attack.

I ignored his comment and walked away. Another classmate who was also present scolded me for not defending myself. The comment was really nasty and my classmate warned me, “You can never let anyone say something like that to you and get away with it. You can’t let anyone brand you negatively.”

He was right. You must vigilantly guard your reputation because once you lose it, it’s nearly impossible to get it back.

Three Do Not’s


Don’t Change Your Brand

Never change your brand based upon who you are with or the environment you are in.

Your brand must always remain consistent across all the landscapes. Whether you are with family. Family, business colleagues or in a social setting, your brand never changes. Consistency is the cornerstone for building a great personal brand.

It never changes. You hear me?

The conduct you engage in may need to change, but your brand does not.

Don’t Build Your Brand At The Expense Of Others

It’s not necessary. It’s cheap. It’s like a comedian that makes a crowd laugh by mocking other people or someone in the audience.

That’s why I like Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno. They never mock others in order to get a laugh. They rely upon their own cleverness (or now that they are famous, the cleverness of their writers)

Build your brand based on your own credentials and accomplishments, not by putting others down.


Don’t Build Your Brand Based On Your Own Opinion Of Yourself


Branding has nothing to do with what we think about ourselves. It’s about what our target audience feels about us. Never forget that No one is a success unless awful lot of people want that person to be. Not many people will want us to be a success unless they have a strong, positive feelings about us.

You know the old saying, “No cares how much you know until they know how much you care.