What Is Personal Branding?

The misconceptions about personal branding abound. Because branding is a powerful buzzword today, plenty of people are doling out advice and services without a clear understanding of what branding is and what it can do for you.

I compared the misinformation with the straight skinny in my post over at my Executive Career Brand blog, What Personal Branding is NOT.

The key to grasping the concept of personal branding is to understand the beauty of it — you already have a brand.

We all have a reputation for the way we make things happen for our companies, for ourselves, and for the world — the things people rely on us to always deliver.

Here’s how I describe it:

Personal branding links your passions, key personal attributes, and strengths with your value proposition, in a crystal clear message that differentiates your unique promise of value and resonates with your target audience.

What’s great about branding is that it generates the kind of chemistry that indicates good fit to decision makers assessing whether to hire you or do business with you.

My own promise of value comes together in my brand bio.

When Tom Peters coined the term “personal branding” in his 1997 article “The Brand Called You” in Fast Company, he had this to say:

We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc.

You’re hired, you report to work, you join a team — and you immediately start figuring out how to deliver value to the customer. Along the way, you learn stuff, develop your skills, hone your abilities, move from project to project. And if you’re really smart, you figure out how to distinguish yourself from all the other very smart people walking around with $1,500 suits, high-powered laptops, and well-polished resumes. Along the way, if you’re really smart, you figure out what it takes to create a distinctive role for yourself — you create a message and a strategy to promote the brand called You.

For a detailed breakdown of what makes a powerful personal brand, see my 10-Step Executive Personal Branding Worksheet.