Personal branding, what are you communicating?


A few days ago, Betsy, a friend of mine from high school pinged me on Facebook to ask me my thoughts on Personal Branding. Betsy wanted some tips to share with her students. She is an art teacher but all of the stuff we’ll talk about in this video can be applied to working in any industry.

First, we have to define a brand.

A brand is the sum of someone’s experiences with you or with an organization.

It is more than just the logo you choose for your business. Here are some of the things that make up the brand of You:

  • The way you talk
  • The way you dress
  • The brands you support
  • The way you answer the phone
  • Your website
  • The card stock you use for your business cards
  • The service they receive
  • and much much more.

It is even how you respond and address any shortcomings if there is something negative that happens.

My personal brand? I try and talk simply about complex topics. Sometimes I throw in big words without thinking (English major shining through). I dress somewhat casual. Normally you'll find me in jeans and a polo or button down. I am big into Levi's and Tommy Hilfiger. I love shoes so I rotate between a nice pair of Magnanni dress shoes, Adidas Superstars, and Air Jordan 1s. Because of my time working with the DoD, I answer the phone by saying my full name. My card stock is so thick people often think I have handed them multiple cards. I try and go above and beyond in how we service clients. And if I screw something up, I am quick to apologize.

So a personal brand is still all of those things. How do you present yourself? Do you speak with authority?

Since Betsy is an art teacher let’s use artists as an example. Personal branding for an artist is a commitment. It is telling the world this is who I am as a creative. For instance:

  • It can define the medium you work with.
  • It can define the style you emulate.
  • It can define where you live and the galleries you display in.
  • It can define your clientele.
  • It can define how well or poorly you get compensated.
  • It can even define the materials you use or the colors spectrum you work within.

This is a big deal for an artist. You have to be self-aware enough to know what is going to work and what is going to satisfy you. And for creatives, being defined is a really really hard thing to come to grips with.

As much as I would like to say it does not matter, One of the areas that makes a huge difference is how we dress. I was at a networking event for the Chamber recently and was talking to my buddy Ellis Foster. Those of you that know Ellis know that Ellis always looks sharp.

We were talking about the need to present yourself with intention and that you need to make sure you are well-dressed. Note that I am not saying you need to spend a ton of money or that you need to wear suits (although Ellis does). It’s more about style. Style communicates many things to people. But make sure that whatever style you need to wear for work, that your clothes fit and that you are well put together.

Personal Branding matters quite a bit when it comes to Social Media. This goes for your personal accounts as well as your business pages.

  • What kind of things are you posting?
  • Are you educating your audience or just trying to cram your product or service down their throat?
  • Are you posting political posts?
  • Are your posts something that might be deemed inappropriate?
  • Are you sharing posts that irritate half of your audience?

There is a case for irritating or offending. Just make sure that if you are doing it that it is on purpose. Even being irritating can be part of your personal branding.

And I guess that is the overarching truth about personal branding. That you need to be self-aware. Knowing that you are communicating with all of your actions or inactions. Once you know that, make sure you are being intentional about it.