Yes Indeed, You Do Have A (Personal) Brand

Every once in a while I hear the negative about personal branding. I’ve seen blog posts from really big/influential (in their space) bloggers who say that “personal branding” is a crock.

Here’s a thoughtful piece called Personal Branding RIP by Mitch Joel, something of a god in the digital marketing space.  Make sure to read the comments, which are very good.

Yesterday I got a note on Facebook, in response to my blog post about Donald McMichael’s website… here is some of the dialog:


I know some people think that the term “branding” or “personal branding” is not the best term for what we’re talking about…. I don’t really care what you call it, though, you have a “personal brand.”

I use that term because it’s the most acceptable term, and I think it’s here to stick. I don’t care as much about the term, though, as the concept behind it.

You are known for something.  Some people have a personal brand that is “on purpose.”  That is, they strategically work on it and know how to define it, and help others understand what it is based on what they’ve thought about.

Others (many of us) have a personal brand that just kind of happened.

Like that guy at work who always gets out of work.

Like that lady who talks way too much.

Like that guy who doesn’t say much but is 1,000% dependable.

Like the lady who makes THE BEST powerpoint presentations.

Like the guy in school who always got an A, and who you wanted on your team project.

Like the antagonist, or the peace maker, or the bully…

These are examples of unintentional personal brands.  They just kind of happen… you do your thing and people know you for it.

Yesterday’s post was an example of a guy who has done an awesome job of defining, intentionally, his personal brand.

Perhaps personal branding doesn’t matter to you right now.  When I was the general manager of a software company it didn’t matter to me… because my assumed brand was very strong.

But when I became “Jason the unemployed guy,” and the assumed brand of “general manager” went away, I found myself in a bad place.  It was time to create my own personal brand (even though I hadn’t heard that term at the time).

What about you?  Is your brand intentional or unintentional right now?

More posts that go into the semantics of “personal branding”:

Personal Branding – Real or Fake?

Why I Hate the Term “Personal Branding” (read the comments!)

7 thoughts on “Yes Indeed, You Do Have A (Personal) Brand”

  1. Let me see if I got this right. This person responding to you on Facebook, her accidental brand would now be “the person who wanted to be a CEO but couldn’t get the job so now they try to make CEO’s sound like heartless b’stards on Facebook”?

  2. People use terms to describe us and we use terms to describe ourselves. Those descriptive words are our reputation in the world.

    From cities big and small, to cookies, to people…everything has a reputation.

    We touch others by being a part of the world and, in the words of another consultant, we each “leave people with a conversation”. People are going to talk about cities, cookies, and yes people. We all want them to say nice things about us and we must be conscious of the impact we have on others whether they’re strangers, family, clients, and coworkers.

    So whether you call it a brand or you call it a reputation we all certainly have one and should consider if it’s really what we want others to think and say about us.

    I agree with you Jason.

  3. @Rather Not – I didn’t pull that out of the dialog but I did certainly get a different element of that person’s … um, brand. They didn’t mean to say “now you can think this of me” but, well, I do.

    It happens to me every day.. they way someone reacts or communicates makes me think a certain way of or about them. They either do it intentionally (because they are building and reinforcing their thought-out brand) or unintentionally.

    @Winnie – thank you – regardless of what it is called, it’s there. When I see a company name or logo I don’t think “oh, their brand is ______.” But I do have feelings and assumptions about what they mean to me and how they fit into my life.

    Like McDonalds vs. Red Robin. Like WalMart vs Target. The depth of the brand is deeper than just the name we give it.

  4. To give human examples… some may see guys who work out a lot with big muscles as “meat heads.” A woman who wears fancy clothes, lots of make-up and is always in the nail salon might be considered “high maintenance.” What’s tricky with a personal brand is that judgement is made based on the visual. What lies underneath that might actually be completely different. That’s why it’s important to understand the visual cues you’re giving others and how they may react.

  5. I find this argument interesting. It is similar to the argument over “networking”. Some people hate the term and get too caught up in their impression of the word. I saw a speaker do a whole hour on “I HATE NETWORKING”. She got the crowd all riled up that it was some how evil and only for the most social people (she took a shot at networkers calling them “frat boys and sorority girls who never grew up”… as a frat boy and a guy who knows the power of a network, I took offense!) . The problem was she was using her own mistaken definition of networking (she spoke as if it was only about drinking cheap wine at Chamber events). The real meaning involves creating long-term and mutually beneficial relationships that help all parties achieve more.

    Same goes for “personal branding”. People can grab hold of some part and thus discredit the whole concept….. but that says more about that person than it does about the concept of personal branding. You are right… everyone has a brand. You can choose to promote that brand, or let others define you.

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