When people ask people why I'm obsessed with the concept of personal branding, I think back to a when Mitt Romney, while running for President of the US in 2012, famously said: "Corporations are people, my friends." I think the converse is true: people, in a sense, are corporations.

Until recently, most people only thought of companies as having brand identities. In recent generations, however, it's been more commonplace acknowledge that celebrities have brands, too. Today, we're increasingly aware that each professional's reputation and attributes roll up into a unique personal brand.

Just like household name brands, you have characteristics that define you; ways that you think of yourself and ways that others think of you. Effective personal branding isn't about putting on a show or figuring out how to do as little work as possible while getting the most financial reward. That's not something that I believe in. Life's just too short to not be focused on building the best possible version of yourself.

So, who needs to care about personal branding, anyway? And, is it really that important? The short answers: A) Virtually everyone, and B) Yes, it is. How people see you matters. This is a fundamental truth of being a human.

You have a brand just as much as you have a reputation. Are you the life of the party? That's part of your brand. Do you tend to take control in a key business meeting? That's part of your brand, too. Are you prone to making bad jokes when you're nervous? That's part of your br-- well, you get the picture.

Your personal brand is made up of thousands of choices and opinions, from the simple to the complex. Everyone you've ever met has formed opinions about you. You may not be aware of your brand, and that means it might not be the best, most accurate representation of who you are and what you're capable of.

When do you need to look into refining your personal brand? Here are some determinants:

  • Your career is just starting out and you're concerned that people don't know what you're capable of.
  • You're looking to grow your influence in your existing company and move up through the ranks, but something about your reputation is stopping you from getting there.
  • You're trying to move from one area of your company to another.
  • You're trying to change careers entirely and want to convince others that your existing skill set will be an asset, not a drawback.
  • You've been laid off from a job and need to ensure that you're in the best possible position to land a new job--the right new job--in as short a time as possible.
  • You're going back to the workforce after taking time off; perhaps after having children; perhaps reentering the workforce after a retirement.

As many of us would agree, corporate branding is incredibly important. What might be more debatable to some is that personal branding is important. I'll go one step further: personal branding is crucial and vital to your success.

Do you believe in the importance of personal branding? Do you think you spend enough time building yours?

Published on: Nov 6, 2014