The One Question I Always Get on Personal Branding


Image Fast Company Magazine August 1997

Next year will see the 20-year anniversary of the Fast Company magazine article “The Brand Called You” by Tom Peters. This was two years before his book series, which included “Brand You 50” were published. Most recognize the article as the ‘birth’ of personal branding or at the least the first time that the concept of having a personal brand appeared on the business radar. When you Google “Brand Called You” the article still appears at the top of the rankings. Read the article here

Many people still minimize the power of personal branding and some label it as egotistical and ridiculous. The criticism is legitimate towards those who have likened branding yourself to branding a bar of chocolate. In fact, the intention is to show the contrast between a person and a corporation when it comes to branding.

It probably took ten years after that article, for the notion of owning your personal brand to be embraced as an accepted way of managing your career, business, and even life. Celebrity branding has exploded with constant exposure and an unquenchable thirst for more. This leaves many people feeling inadequate unless they too garner the same visibility. Sadly credibility can sometimes take a back seat.

Social media has been both a blessing and curse and can be blamed for some of the hype, expectation, and disdain that personal branding attracts. But fault can also lie at the feet of the ‘gurus’ and experts who tell you to “Fake it until you make it” or encourage you to turn your social media streams into a one-way flow of personally branding me, me, me that should never be turned off.

When it comes to personal branding the one question I always get is

“How do I maintain activity with my personal brand and feel good about it?”

It’s important to remember, as I always say in my keynotes and workshops,

“The good news is that everyone already has a personal brand. The key is understanding what that brand is and how to best communicate it to the people that need to know about you including the people you are trying to influence.”

Of course, you first have to embrace the concept and want to work on your personal brand. Otherwise, the aim to be distinct or the core of Tom Peters message, as he recently blogged his response to another personal brand critique,

Craft, Distinction, Networking Skills, to aim to be distinct or extinct will make no sense.


7 Questions You Need to Answer About Your Personal Brand

1. Know your personal brand

Before you embark on a personal brand campaign, you want to be sure you have a clear understanding of how your personal brand is perceived right now. You need a baseline.

So how can you gain an understanding of the current state of my personal brand?

There are two personal brand assessments that I am aware of, and it is well worth taking the time in making the investment in one or both of these. All my clients have the benefit of the insights from the Fascinate assessment from Sally Hogshead and the 360 Reach Assessment from William Arruda at Reach.

You can try both now at no cost;

Fascinate – To get the express version click here and enter code YOU-fire

360 Reach – Read the instructions first by going here.  Then access the 15-day free version by clicking here. 

2. Assess your personal brand communication strengths

We all have our own preferred ways of communicating, and there are several key ones that as a corporate employee you will want to be proficient at including e-mail, presenting, speaking, etc.

So what form of communication works best for your personal brand?

The perhaps glib answer is: whichever one you are good at! Jerry Seinfeld has a funny skit on the fears of public speaking and death

Seriously, though, it is important to develop your communication skills and where necessary take some training. Do a communications audit of the key ones and then decide which one you feel most proficient and confident in using right now and use that one to start communicating your personal brand more.

3. Your personal brand target audience

Decisions about your career in the corporate world are no longer made locally or even regionally but potentially globally.

So who should you focus on influencing with your personal brand?

Hopefully, you already have an idea what you want your next promotion to be or the next type of project you want to be involved lead. Now you need to determine who are the people making those decisions, how well do you know them, where are they, how to reach them and then let them know about the great work you are doing.

4. Finding time for your personal brand

We all have limited time and resources.

So where should you focus your personal brand time?

If you were to ask me that question, I would firstly congratulate you on realizing that investing time on your personal brand activity is key. It does not have to be a ton of time in one go, in fact, the consistent focus of daily activity is better. It could be as little as a few minutes a day and then one day of longer time each week to complete a more in-depth action. Either way, book appointments with yourself, and make them as non-negotiable as a meeting with your boss or ideal client.

5. Take action with your personal brand

My daughter reminded me the other day that my partner often shares with us the wisdom that ‘actions speak louder than words.’

So what actions will be most beneficial for your personal brand?

Be sure that your actions are authentic to you, feel right and are not all that one-way spigot of ME, ME, ME. What personal brand actions can you take that add value to others, raise your profile and benefit everyone?

6. Set personal brand goals and measure results.

Yogi Berra once said;

“If you don’t know where you are going, you will end up someplace else.”

So how do you know your personal brand is getting noticed?

You already know the current state of your personal brand, and you have an idea of where or what you want to be doing next in your career. So next you should determine what it is going to take to get from the former to the latter and put some measurable actions and results to that. These become your personal brand goals. With consistent and relevant work you will progress.

7. Review your personal brand, revise your activity and don’t stop

Personal branding is not a one-time event; it is an integral part of who you are professionally and personally. Be sure to regularly check where you are at and revise your activity and communication accordingly.

So how do know when your personal brand has made it?

As long as you continue to have career goals and aspirations, you will likely continue to review, refine, revise and rework your personal brand. Even if you start to look at the next stage of your career or life, the personal branding process can help you make important decisions and guide you. The process is circular instead of linear.


As we near the end of another year, this is a perfect time to be asking yourself these questions and start to plan what you want 2017 to be like for you, your career and your personal brand.

In a few weeks, we will be opening registration for our Getting Your Year in Gear program. This is a supported, resource-rich online program to help you get the most out of the next 12 months. To be notified when it’s open and our special reader pricing let us know by completing this form

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.