Discover Your Personal Brand

By Francine Fabricant

McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and White Castle are brands, and, even though they all serve burgers and fries, most people would not mistake one for another.  As consumers, we understand how they differ.  We’ve learned about them from their advertisements, from our personal experiences, and from their marketing choices.  Somehow, we get a different feeling from each of them or we like one over another.

Personal branding is a lot like branding in the business world. The big difference is that personal branding often happens to you, rather than by you. Why do people like you?  What skills and talents do you offer?  Why do people rely on you? For instance, are you a good listener, are you good with technology, or do you know how to take photographs?  These are the types of talents that may attract others.  Whatever you’re known for – that’s your personal brand.  Personal branding is the process of becoming more aware of your reputation, then shaping and promoting it intentionally.

Here are a few tips for building your assets into a recognizable personal brand.

How do others see you?

The first step to building your brand is identifying some of the assets you could most easily brand, because they are already part of your reputation.  To find out the best qualities you offer, ask the people you know why they would go to you for help, support, or advice.  Ask them what special personal qualities, talents, or skills they think you can offer, and why they think you would be the right person to offer that assistance.  Ask your friends, family members, a former boss, or your roommate. If they can’t think of something, ask them what they think is your reputation.  Using different words or phrases, such as “go-to person” or “reputation,” can lead to new insights.

Are these the qualities you want to brand for yourself?

Now that you’ve learned how others view you, decide if these qualities are important to you and if you’d like to be known for them.  With this self-exploration, you’re deciding how you want to shape your personal brand.

Are these assets being honed, utilized, and enhanced through experiences?

After you decide which qualities are the ones you value, examine your activities, courses, and experiences to see where you use or build these strengths.  If you aren’t developing them, consider adding new activities that make them part of your current experience. For instance, if you’re the one your friends go to for advice on their dating relationships, consider becoming a peer educator, taking a psychology class, or writing a column about dating in the school paper.

Now, share your brand!

Look at your social media, and see if the message about your greatest assets comes through.  Examine your resume.  Look at your course list.  As you go through all of the information and documents you have for yourself, look to see if these qualities you value come through. If not, consider if you need more experiences that back up these strengths, or if you just need to highlight them more.

As you better understand your personal brand, and choose activities that support it, you will find that your message starts to shine through, and soon you’ll have even more people seeking you out for the assets you want to use most!

Tell us how you are building your personal brand.