Personal Branding Should Articulate Identity and Value
There is nothing like watching someone grow. I remember how empowered and confident I felt once I reached my point of self-actualization. I could articulate my talents, experience, and the people skills that make me valuable in any situation. As a result, I want to pull the best out of people and personal branding coaching is the way I can make that happen. As a recruiter who is a former public relations and marketing director, I have the tools to change lives through personal branding.
After years of people using personal branding to enhance their opportunities, it looks like we have hit a philosophical wall. As many of us who have read about personal branding know, Tom Peters got the train going with “The Brand Called You” in 1997. In recent years, however, there seems to have been a deep sense of cynicism disrupting the personal branding narrative. We are seeing blogs such as “Is ‘Personal Branding’ Just an Ego-Driven Waste of Time?” and “10 Reasons to Resist the Personal Brand Rage”. The one that caught my eye was “Why Entrepreneurs Shouldn’t Waste Time on Personal Branding”. In a biting commentary, Beatriz Helena Ramos argued, “Largely because the idea has gained so much traction since Peters wrote about it, personal branding has devolved into a barrage of self-promotion—something that's less about strategy than about building networks of thousands of superficial connections.”
I understand the cynicism. It is true that no one “needs” personal branding. Scores of people have reached success without turning themselves into walking versions of Nike, McDonald’s, or Tide. I agree that personal branding can become trivial and I even agree that it may not necessarily be as ground breaking as we have made it out to be. On the other hand, there are encouraging contributions to the discussion out there such as personal branding surveys to get an idea of how the process can be conducted effectively. I even ran across a college senior project from 2012 about the importance of personal branding.
The concept is being challenged because it needs to evolve and that’s where I want to weigh in on the discussion as a personal branding coach. My approach to personal branding is built on the foundations of authenticity and making personal branding accessible for anyone looking to advance his or her life. The difference-maker will be attention to the needs of the client as opposed to a pre-fab rhetorical guide on how to be fabulous and noticed.
I realized while coaching my wife, Halima, in public speaking that personal branding is about being able to articulate the individual’s identity and value. Since I am an animated speaker, she feared that I was going to try to turn her into a public speaking wild cat (which would be hilarious if you know her). The sessions leveled off when she saw that my goal was to bring out who she is—intellectual, charming, and reserved. That blossomed into an ongoing conversation about her personal brand and how she can be a respected voice in her field as opposed to someone whose name appears in lights.
My thing is to meet people where they live. An entertainer or public official should have a visible personal brand because he plays to a large audience. A scholar’s personal brand may be more reserved because she interacts with a community of thinkers. Community organizational leaders’ personal brands are more connected to causes and require a different approach. And in deference to Ramos, entrepreneurs should most definitely pay attention to their personal brands because authentic positioning in a market sells itself.
The words of the day, boys and girls, are fun and fulfilling. I want the process to be a fun discovery of identity and value. In the end, you will feel fulfilled after putting work into figuring out how to articulate your identity and value. Personal branding is a marathon, not a sprint. Let's enjoy the journey.