Your Personal Brand – Does it Matter?

I was at a facilitation workshop last week, at which I gave an impromptu “from the heart” mini-talk on personal branding.

People often question if they “need” a personal brand. Here’s the news – you already HAVE a personal brand. The only questions are, what is it? And are you projecting it effectively?

When people see you, think of you, and relate to you, words and images and feelings come to mind. That is your personal brand. If people who know you think “friendly,” “diligent,” “kind,” when they see you and talk about you, you are well on your way to possessing a positive personal brand. Of course, you can easily see the flip side of this as well…

So, you have a brand. Do you know what it is? What distinguishes you from the teeming hordes of humanity? What are you known for? Here, you need some self-examination, maybe some personality profiling (I found the Gallup books on Strengths to be particularly helpful), and some honest friends to help you distill it down.

What you’ll find is a constellation of qualities, and perhaps 1-5 characteristics that really stand out. Those are what you build your brand on. And, once you really have a grasp on it, you can communicate to people much more effectively what you’re all about. Where you fit in. Even what your future business endeavors should look like. You project your brand NOW – but you can project it more effectively when you actually know what it IS, and feel comfortable in your own skin.

Here’s another reason why identifying your personal brand is so important – it frees you for paralyzing comparisons of yourself to others. Yes, there are many people whose gifts and abilities I’ve envied and still envy (sorry, 10th commandment breaker here) – but I’m reconciled to being who I am, and tossing the only hat I really have in the ring – my own.

What is my personal brand? I listen, analyze, distill, and rapidly find the core, then communicate it fairly effectively. There’s a lot more to Steve Woodruff, the brand, but that is the chief distinguishing trait. And, it’s a gift. It’s a hard-wired capability that I’ve been given, sought to cultivate, even built a consulting business around. The fact is, it’s just ME. And as I look to short-, mid-, and long-term personal & professional goals that brew in my mind and heart, the areas of endeavor that I’d like to pursue always have that personal brand at the center. Because it’s who I am.

Let’s make one distinction. There is your personal brand essence, which is that grouping of personality traits, character traits, strengths, and capabilities that make you you. Then there is your personal brand role, which is how you function in the world and marketplace. Your role may change, but your essence remains the same, and hopefully, your functional and professional role is increasingly aligned with who you (essentially) are.

I’ve had live and on-line conversations with several people in the last 2 weeks who are wrestling with how to define themselves, and project their personal brand. As it turns out, my core competencies of analyzing,  distilling, and expressing makes that a very enjoyable and meaningful exercise.

You don’t have to be a personal branding guru, or a consultant, a blogger, or an entrepreneur, to have and project a brand. You simply have to have a pulse. And a willingness to discover what really makes you tick. You DO have a brand, and you DO have something to offer. What endeavor could more rewarding and noble than identifying that brand and running with it?

(Update: some related thoughts on differentiation from blogging friend Jane Chin here)

Related prior post: Personal Branding

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About Steve Woodruff
Steve Woodruff is a blogger, a Connection Agent, and a consultant in the pharma/healthcare industry. He specializes in helping people and companies make mutually beneficial connections.

13 Responses to Your Personal Brand – Does it Matter?

  1. Lewis Green says:

    Excellent post Steve. I argue that our personal brand and the personal brands of every employee make up the company’s brand image.

  2. My father, a blue collar worker for 50 years of his life, taught me this. Your character bears more on who you are than your career.

    He’s a great man and everyone that has ever met him agrees with that assessment. He’s no marketer. He knows nothing of branding or positioning. But he has the strongest personal brand I’ve ever seen.

    So, it matters. It matters if your personal brand says “truthful.” It matters if your personal brand says “unique.” (and so-on).

    Keep Cooking!

  3. Dan Schawbel says:

    Heres what I tell people “personal branding makes it cool to be you.” They always get shocked because they were told that personal branding was always about image management, but hey, it’s the exact opposite. The real way to succeed in life today is to be genuine, transparent, authentic and be true to yourself.

  4. Jane Chin says:

    Yes! Personal Branding is absolutely critical!

    From my recent niche pharma consulting experience, I find that my “personal brand” is often the reason why many seek me out for advice, consulting queries, and business opportunities.

    In my current mode of reinvention, my personal brand is important because it helps me determine what my unique value proposition may be in a new field (microbusiness entrepreneurship), and how I may best contribute.

    Finally – having a branding guru like Steve Woodruff as a colleague helps!

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  6. I couldn’t agree more, Steve. Companies have figured out that helping their employees unearth their personal brands is good for the corporate brand. Most of my work these days is with companies like Microsoft, JPMorgan and P&G – helping them get the best from their employees. We do this by unearthing what makes each one exceptional and developing plans for integrating that into everything they do in support of their company. Personal branding is permission to be yourself – your best self. And it makes you more successful while enabling you to deliver greater value to your employer.

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  11. Bailey Smith says:

    Your right, your personal brand is critical and we all have one despite knowing what it may be. There are so many articles and sites on how to define, create, shape etc… our brands. Out of everything, I have found lots of great advice but the best tool to be

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