How Well Are You Managing Your Personal Brand?

Most of us are familiar with the concept of branding from a marketing perspective. Brands like Nike, Coca-Cola, IBM and Target are well known. Also well known is the time, effort, expense and attention that goes into managing brands. But brand management isn’t just for organizations. Individuals have brands too, and, just as with major companies, those brands need to be carefully managed to achieve desired results. Here’s how.

The concept of branding individuals really draws upon the same principles as any form of branding or brand management. A brand can, essentially, be thought of as a “personality,” so, in many regards, personal branding may seem more “intuitive” than other forms of branding. All branding requires:

  • A clear idea of the brand perception you would like to convey
  • A clear understanding of how the brand is currently perceived
  • Identification of the gaps between these two levels of perception
  • Strategies and tactics designed to close these gaps
  • Consistency, consistency, consistency – not just in terms of your messaging (whether written or verbal), but also in terms of the services you deliver, your clothing style, the car you drive, the things you have on your desk, etc., etc.

We work with consultants and companies frequently on brand management issues — from conducting brand audits/assessments to strategic communication planning and implementation and content management. Interestingly, the same steps apply regardless of whether we’re managing an individual (consultant) brand or an organizational brand.

Importantly, the “little things” matter. For individuals, those little things might include hairstyle, style of dress or the type of vehicle you drive. The “little things” often include the image you portray in face-to-face and online interactions. While we tend to understand this when it comes to in-person interactions, especially those of a business nature, we often fail to recognize the impact (both positive and negative) that our social interactions both online and offline can have on our reputations — or brands.

I think of this each semester as I meet new groups of students in the classes I teach at a local university and as I attempt to impress upon them how their interactions in the classroom–with me, with other students and with guests that may come to speak with us–can impact their careers in both large and small ways. Those that don’t pull their weight in a group project, for instance, may sometimes find themselves applying for a job at an organization where one of their former teammates now works; that teammate may also be in a position to make a recommendation or a hiring decision that impacts them.

These kinds of impacts happen to all of us, all of the time. The question is: are you proactively managing your personal brand or leaving your brand reputation to chance?

For additional information:

Developing Your Personal Brand

A 4-Step Branding Process

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