What is a Personal Brand Anyway?

A personal brand is a widely-recognized and largely-uniform perception or impression of an individual based on their experience, expertise, competencies, actions and/or achievements within a community, industry, or the marketplace at large.

Personal Brand. 

This trending terms is one that comes up a whole lot in job searching today and leads to much frustration as professionals try to define who they are in the workforce and present their unique value proposition cohesively across resumes, networking conversations, and interviews.

From personal brand photography to portfolio sites and more, personal branding has become a strategic effort adopted by many trying to create a seamless – and desirable – perception of themselves.

It generates so many questions: 

So, what is a brand?

What is your brand?

How does one brand themselves?

How do I communicate that brand?

Let’s demystify this current, relevant, albeit buzzy, subject together over the next few hundred (thousand?) words.

What is a Brand?

The potentially scary news here is that… guess what? 

You have a brand whether you know it or not.

Think about a company you like. Sure, they have logos, taglines, and marketing that support their visual brand, but ultimately what we think of as a corporate brand lives in the personality they put forth.

 

How do they treat their customers?

What words do they use to describe themselves?

What are they known for doing, supporting, innovating?

What are their values?

 

Let’s take Patagonia for instance.

If there’s a better example of solid branding in the outdoor world, I can’t think of it. (Plus, I like their stuff. If only it wasn’t made for tall, skinny people with freakishly long limbs…)

Who is Patagonia and what do I know about them, as a company?

  • I know they deliver quality products with a promise of performance, functionality, and style.
  • I know they’re perceived as a higher-end brand that’s earned them the slag term “Patagucci.”
  • But, what I really know of Patagonia is what they stand for: corporate social responsibility and activism around the environment, conservation, and protection of our natural resources.

I know they’ll go to the ends of the Earth to promote those causes through awareness, financial stewardship, and partnerships that progress the collective effort of the mission. 

THIS is Patagonia’s brand.

 

What is My (Your) Brand?

If you asked ten friends to describe you, what words would they say?

How would they relay your personality?

Who would I expect to meet based on a third-party rendition of your being?

This is the start of understanding the brand you’ve unintentionally created for yourself, which is the first important step in refining (or redefining) that persona, building your brand, and growing the associated awareness, for both you and others. 

Personal branding is the intentional act of figuring out who you are and how that plays into what you want to be known for, professionally.

I’ll use me as an example, which is less about my ego, and more about the fact that there’s no brand I’m more intimately acquainted with.  

For those of you who have the benefit of knowing me, the following descriptors will make sense.

  • Direct, honest, authentic
  • Astute, intelligent
  • Open, welcoming, warm, caring
  • Energetic, driven, outgoing

Now that my head is inflated after talking about how wonderful I am in my own blog post, I’ll find a bit of modesty by saying, this is an example of words, phrases, and sentiments OTHERS have used to describe me.

Luckily, they’re also how I want to be known!

Put those words together and think about the type of person you’d meet based purely on those qualifiers. There’s my brand, and it sets up clear expectations of who you’ll get. 

How Do I Brand Myself?

My brand, as defined above, also carries over into my values and into the way I conduct business as an owner and coach with Career Benders. It bleeds into everything I do, and anyone who talks to me can expect to get the person outlined above.

I communicate it in writing, in my speaking, in how I treat others, and in how I interact with people on the phone, via zoom, or in-person.

Your brand is feeling – an energy and sentiment…not a thing. I think this is the core concept of branding that what many fail to understand, even in business! Branding is not the logo; it isn’t your hair color, your shirt, or your shoes. It’s your presence.

Ok, fine. Your clothing, nail color, and attire can totally reflect elements of your brand, but they don’t make up the sum total; they’re simply pieces that support it.

Reflecting this brand professionally has a few core key areas:

  • Your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile: what do your written brand assets say about you?
  • Your presentation style, speaking, and mannerisms: how do your verbal communications support the person outlined in your resume? Are they the same? What about your nonverbal communications? 

 

If I write a profile about a dynamic, energetic, strong communicator who loves meeting new people and spearheading new projects, and a meek, soft-spoken interviewee shows up for a job, I’m going to be quite confused! 

Something doesn’t align.

 

How you present yourself on paper should reflect how you communicate in networking conversations, phone interviews, presentations, in teams, in management, and in leadership. 

Disconnects between components create questions. Whether it’s a potential employer, a boss, or a colleague, miscues in how you present your brand can leave someone feeling like lack authenticity; like they don’t know what they’re going to get, really…and this can derail your job search, professional development, and advancement in the workplace.

 

Summary

Cohesive communication across all elements of your professional presence is key to BRANDING yourself; it’s the special sauce in how we present candidates who want to level up, show their personality, or even change careers.

By seamlessly communicating both who you are and what you want to be, you establish a unique value proposition that sets you apart from other candidates, and presenting a clear, concise, and cohesive brand ensures nothing is left up to interpretation. 

Not Sure Where to Start?

Ask a few friends or family members to write out some adjectives they would use to describe you or to give you a few thoughts on what they see as your core qualities, strengths, or characteristics.

See an overlap? Now, you’re branding yourself!

Want to talk to Angie about your career path and personal brand? Set up a FREE STRATEGY SESSION now.

THe No-BS Blueprint for a successful job search

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Angie’s resume guidance transformed my job search. I used her feedback to revamp my resume, responded to a rejection, and within a month, I landed the job of my dreams! – Will, Netflix Engineer

Angie Callen, Founder

I created Career Benders to inspire confident professionals. In just three years, we have helped nearly 500 professionals navigate job searches, nail interviews, and find satisfaction in their careers. We’re here for you!

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