Business guru Tom Peters is credited with popularizing the idea of being your own brand 15 years ago. "We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc.," he wrote. "To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called you.... You're not defined by your job title and you're not confined by your job description. Starting today, you are a brand."
On a whim, I just Googled "personal branding" and got 7,300,000 results. On Amazon, I found 18,915 books listed under "Brand You." That's a lot of chatter. But I believe I have something new to add to the conversation.
Your brand is not your current job or title. It is not your skills and experiences, although of course these things matter. It is not, as many people suggest, one particular attribute with which you "differentiate yourself." It is not your reputation, which is fragile and depends on what others say about you.
"Brand you" is the sum of your innate strengths and preferences that are locked into your genes and etched into your brain. It is the way you think and the habits you have, the way your mind processes information and the manner in which you explain your ideas. In the language of my company, it is your "thinking and behavioral attributes," how you see and interact with the world. These attributes generally do not change over time, and always can be depended upon, by you and others.
As author Maureen Johnson describes in her blog: "A personal brand is a little package you make of yourself so you can put yourself on the shelf in the marketplace and people will know what to expect or look for when they come to buy you. For example, Coke is a brand. When you see Coke, you expect a dark brown effervescent sweet drink that is always going to taste like . . . Coke."
If you have a conceptual mind, you probably are now feeling disdain for "brand you". You like being different, and the idea of being categorized into a little box is anathema to you. However, take heart: the fact that you consistently have original and unpredictable ideas is your brand.
Here are more ways you might opt to "brand you":
I suggest no matter what your job that you let your employees and customers know which thinking and behavioral attributes best describe you so they understand what they can expect from you, and how to best use you as a resource. You can also demonstrate your innate "brand you" strengths via social media, and turn your self-knowledge into the ultimate marketing tool.