What Exactly Is Personal Branding?

Why Is Personal Branding So Important?

Why Should I Care So Much About Personal Branding?

To answer that, let’s look at the history of personal branding.

The History Of Personal Branding

Personal Branding

The term “Personal Branding” was first made popular in the workplace in 1997 by Tom Peters in an article he wrote for Fast Company titled, The Brand Called You! Mr. Peters is an American writer on business management practices. He is best known for his book, In Search of Excellence; however, I give the original concept of Personal Branding to a sociologist named Erving Goffman.

Personal Branding

Mr. Goffman referred to the concept that Mr. Peters referenced, Personal Branding, as Impression Management in his book, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, published in 1956. It can be as simple as semantics, but it suffices to know there is a direct correlation.

Mr. Goffman was the first to conceptualize Impression Management and was the first to look at Impression Management as an objective field of study of sociology. Impression Management is defined as a conscious or unconscious process in which one attempts to influence other people’s perceptions about oneself. Impression Management has a “manipulative tone” to its process; however, it has evolved into the phenomena we now call Personal Branding, removing its manipulative undertone.

Parker Geiger
“If you don’t define your destiny, someone else will.”
 Parker Geiger, Leading Edge Branding

What Is Personal Branding

Why Is It So Important?

Because It Comes Down To Your Reputation!

To answer this, we have first to define what a personal brand is. Your reputation defines your Personal Brand. You gain this reputation by everything you do, say, everything you represent, and associate yourself with, and everything you produce. All these “activities and interactions” create an emotional connection with others, and it is these thoughts, feelings, and associations held within people’s mind collectively helps DEFINE your Personal Brand.

A Personal Brand is not about being someone you are not or boasting or bragging. It is also NOT about judgment; however, it is often about change or modification. It is about adapting new form, shape, and meaning into defining who you are at your very CORE—more on this concept in a future blog.

The Concept Behind Personal Branding

In the article that Mr. Peters wrote, The Brand Called You!, Here’s what he had to say about Personal Branding, which I think pretty much sums up the concept in a nutshell:

“It’s time for me — and you — to take a lesson from the big brands, a true lesson for anyone interested in what it takes to stand out and prosper in the new world of work. Regardless of age, position, and the business we happen to be in, we all need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.”

Personal Branding

What does he mean by that? Let’s use Coca-Cola as an example. Coca-Cola started out making one drink, but now they make many different beverages, even coffee. Coca-Cola is now the No. 1 provider of sparkling and still beverages worldwide. And although Coke has many other products, each product requires different approaches from packaging to marketing. That is why Coke does not market vitaminwater the same as Diet Coke. Each product is independent of the other.

Coca-Cola must determine how that product will be packaged!

So, depending upon the product, Coca-Cola must determine how that product will be packaged, such as what colors, shape, size, fonts, and what medium will best represent the product. Then it comes to how the product will be marketed. Will it be via email campaigns, TV commercials, socially, or a combination? Coke and other companies spend a great deal of time and money on everything before a product is brought to market. And although you don’t need to spend a lot of money, you do have to put in a lot of time. This is where and why when someone stops working on their personal brand.

In the beginning, you must put a great deal of time and effort into building your brand; I call it your Personal Branding Sweat Equity. As things are set into place, you will spend a lot less time when it comes to building your personal brand. Again, I will write more about this in a future blog.

How Many Personal Brands Do You Have?

On the other hand, you are not many brands to an organization. You are a unified, one-brand with many talents and strengths! You can think of your talents and strengths as “ingredients” of your brand; however, do not confuse these aspects of you as many different brands. They are just other aspects of you that help defines your brand. And depending on your situation at a given time will determine which talents and strengths you choose to “highlight” or “promote” throughout your career. But keep in mind that you are a one-brand, unlike Coke, where each product is a distinct brand in every sense of the word.

What Is Personal Branding?

The actions you take to create your Personal Brand. Personal Branding is how you make others aware of your Personal Brand by communicating your true strengths, values, and passions. But how do you go about doing this? Personal Branding is about self-awareness, self-esteem, physical image, and presence. It is about taking responsibility, taking action, and taking control of your career development. It is about growth and often changes. Your Personal Brand is about all these things.

What Is The Purpose Of Personal Branding?

The purpose of developing and maintaining a Personal Brand is to ensure that you consciously manage your career by developing and enhancing your Visibility, Image, and Performance in the marketplace to sustain current business opportunities and secure future business engagements.

Reasons Why You Develop and Maintain your

Personal Brand!

  1. Helping burn your brand in the minds of others.
  2. Building an authentic brand that is truly reflective of who you are.
  3. Defining and revealing your area of expertise to others.
  4. Enhancing your visibility when you are not present.
  5. Ensuring others have consistent experiences through all encounters with you.
  6. Ensuring that those experiences that you create are positioned so others will share their        positive experience via word of mouth or digitally with others.
  7. Effectively communicate what you do and how you do it with your individuality.
  8. Using your unique skills and attributes to stand out from others, expanding your success       potential.
  9. To align and maximize your true strengths, values, and passions in support of my goals to       others.
Jeff Bezos
“Your brand is what people say about you when you're not in the room.”
 Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon

Building A Brand Will Help You To:

  1. Ensure others have consistent experiences through all encounters they may have with you.
  2. Ensure that those who experience you, or something you created, are positioned so they will tell others via word of mouth or digitally.
  3. Personal Branding enables you to communicate what you do and how you do it with your individuality.
  4. Use your unique skills and attributes to stand out from others and expand your success potential.
  5. Be consistent in how you “show up.”
  6. Be known and understood.
  7. Represent your business and ethical values.
  8. Highlight skill-sets that are relevant to the job-at-hand.
  9. Resonate with others to be remembered in a positive light.
  10. Strategically manage your career.
  11. Differentiate yourself from others.
  12. Create a space where people want to know and listen to you.
  13. Build a network that “promotes” you while you are not present.
  14. Communicate clearly and succinctly who you are and what you know.

What Is Personal Branding And Why Is It So Important When It Comes To Being Authentic?

With all this said, developing and maintaining a personal brand can be overwhelming, and it can be, but only if you let it. But where and how do you start the unique branding process? To that, I say, you are already building your brand. What do I mean by that?

Your Personal Brand, to this point in your career, has evolved. Consciously or unconsciously. Chances are it’s been a little of both. Our goal is to become consciously competent at developing and maintaining your personal brand.

A Brand Is Not Authentic, It Is Built On Being Authentic!

In my workshops on Personal Branding, I often start the session by asking the group what Personal Branding means to them. I constantly get authentic. When asked what that means, I get responses such as: being transparent, having moral values, being honest, speaking one’s truth, meaning to let everyone know EVERYTHING about you. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to know everything about you, nor do I think you want or need to know everything about me. But I digress.

Brands are not static, sterile images that are created. Brands are revealed, and the keyword here is “being.” Being present in the entire process. From my perspective and experience, to be authentic, you have to understand and know that you must be involved when developing and maintaining a personal brand. Meaning you must always be present. Let me explain.

To be authentic, you must first start with being conscious of self, not self-conscious from the perspective of being unduly critical of yourself. For example, being self-conscious about your weight or being self-conscious that you are not smart enough to do a job.

What Is Personal Branding And Why Is It So Important Where Being Self-Conscious Is Concerned?

We all are self-conscious to some extent. And being self-conscious can be used for the good. It can direct us to lose weight if needed or better see ourselves in a more positive light.

I speak from a philosophical perspective when I use self-consciousness in personal branding. Meaning, or you know and recognize that you are a conscious being, not just a mindless body shell, going through a daily life of non-existence.

When evolving your brand from a conscious perspective, you create a space for an involution approach to building your personal brand. This means that you are aware of all of your “activities and actions” and that you must take responsibility for the outcome of every business opportunity.

It is this conscious choice that creates your authentic, personal brand. Why? Because you make better choices. Being unconscious means you make choices usually based on fear and not from not being present. These choices are made by you being reactive. In other words, you react to something and do not even know you are doing so.

Being In The Power Seat

This involution process is “True Empowerment”.  Coming from this perspective, you then have a positive influence on others. Mr. Peters said: 

“If you want to grow your brand, you’ve got to come to terms with power — your own. The key lesson: power is not a dirty word! It’s not ladder power, as in who’s best at climbing over the adjacent bods. It’s not who’s got the biggest office by six square inches or who’s got the fanciest title power. It’s influence power.”

I write his words because I could not have said them better. In my seminars, I always say, “Keep the Power.” When you give your power away, you give a piece, if not all, of you, to others. If you struggle with this term of “power,” remember this, if you don’t determine your destiny, someone else will. Do you want to leave your career in the hands of someone else that does not have any vested interest in you and your needs? No one knows you better than you!

I believe “being” an authentic brand is all about. It is the foundation for building your brand. Being authentic will be your inner guidance when making choices and decisions. It is authentic because every choice you make or action you take will stem from this place of choice; therefore, authenticity will run throughout your brand.

You might be saying to yourself, okay, I am in. I am conscious, but where do I begin to build my personal brand? You can begin here by reading this blog: "Are You Lost When It Comes To Building Your Brand? Do You Know Where To Starts?"

To read more blogs on the topics of Personal Branding, click here. Keep in mind that we are constantly adding new blogs so be sure to check back!

You can also submit any question concerning this topic or other personal branding topics by submitting your questions here. Our “ASK! The Branding Experts” will try to answer your question(s) in a blog.

About the Author

Parker Geiger has over 25 years in the Personal Branding Arena. He created the Personal Branding Center to

“inspire to empower”

professionals to build an authentic, personal brand that others want to see, hear, and value! From serving clients from ESPN, CNN, Delta, and GM to mention a few, his passion has inspired him and his team of experts to create programs where thousands of professionals have become self-empowered!

Leading Edge Branding