The mythology of ‘personal brand’

A great deal has been written and said about ‘personal brand’ in recent times. No longer is it adequate to just do a great job, you have to tell the world about it, and more.

An entire industry has sprung up helping to fuel the personal branding movement, with many proponents offering a set recipe, or a ‘A winning 10 step program’ on how to develop that winning brand. If it were only that simple!

The concept of ‘brand’ is nothing new. Major corporations invest heavily in developing, refining and protecting their brands. Their brand helps define their organisation. Global corporate brands such as Coca Cola, Google, Toyota and Ford are amongst the better known.

What defines a ‘brand’?

Given the varied perspectives on brand, such as legal, organisational, graphic, perception and value, defining brand is not easy.

Consider the following definition:

A brand should indicate a consistent measure of quality associated with a product or entity.

This well researched and proven fact drives organisations to ensure that their brand clearly defines their value proposition and hence the price they can charge for their products or services.

Just fixing a fashionable branded logo to one of two identical sweaters from the same factory using the same materials and manufactured to the same quality standards will result in significantly different price labels.

It is important to consider the perception of you by others as part of the development of your Career Business Plan.

At a personal level, your individual persona – that unique mix of human attributes that help define who you are and to a lesser extent what you do for a living – make you unique. In the context of your career, however, personal branding can be loosely thought of as:

The practice of individuals consciously defining themselves, as well as their careers with a specific set of attributes that are visible to others.

For some, the development of a personal brand requires deliberate effort, while for others their brand is a by-product of what they have done.

  • In the former instance, many entrepreneurs, politicians and sporting stars put a great deal of effort into crafting and managing how they appear to others. Examples include Richard Branson and Tiger Woods.
  • In the latter, the works of famous scientists such as Albert Einstein and Charles Darwin define their brands. It is unlikely that Einstein and Darwin deliberately set out to shape their brands, which are a by-product of what they have done.

The power of one

The advent of the internet and social media has facilitated the potential for individuals to develop an online personal brand at little to no cost, with the potential to reach a global audience. This can take the form of a personalised website, blog column, LinkedIn profile, Facebook page, Google+ profile or other similar public social and business networking platforms.

Question is: What part should, if any, the development of a personal brand play in the development of your job, career and indeed your career strategy?

Merely doing a great job does not automatically translate to brand

If you are the most committed, professional, engaged and productive employee in your organisation, how do others outside of your current organisation know about your skills, abilities, reputation and potential? If that is important to you, then time to think about your brand.

If how you wish to be known by others is important to you and in your career, then consciously developing and managing your own brand is important. If you don’t do this, others will.