How Personal Should Your Personal Brand Be?

If you’re reading this blog post, I’m guessing you’re already interested in personal branding – or are at least intrigued by the concept. (Unless you mis-typed your Google search and were looking for something else entirely.)

But alongside appreciating the benefits of having and sharing a personal brand, there’s something you might be asking yourself:

Just how ‘personal’ should my personal brand be?

Or to put it another way, using the metaphor of the length of women’s skirts: should I be offering a glimpse of my ankle, a gaze at my kneecaps or a gander at my thighs?

It’s a good question

And the answer is, as with so many things in life:

There’s no one-size-fits-all and it will be different for everybody.

Which, I appreciate, isn’t exactly helpful in providing guidance, but what it does mean is: your brand is personal to you and to keep it authentic you need to stay true to who you are. For some people that will mean dressing their personal brand in a maxi-skirt (with only carefully curated personal info shared), others a pencil skirt (sharing more but keeping some back) and others a mini-skirt (a fuller, but still considered, reveal).

(As a side-note: I’d advise against wearing trousers – keeping your brand so top-secret you end up sharing nothing personal, because people buy people and if they can’t connect with a person they’ll soon go elsewhere. Plus I’d avoid going to the other extreme of wearing no skirt at all – baring your soul to the point where people feel uncomfortable and professionalism has gone out the window.)

Once you’ve decided what length skirt feels right for you, the next step is to communicate that whenever possible – using wording that matches your preferred hemline and reveals the personal in your personal brand.

Here’s what I’m talking about…

Let’s say you’ve returned to the office after a short break and you’re tackling your inbox. Starting with a non-personal, top-secret, don’t want you to know anything about me (trousers) reply you might type: I’m catching up on emails and saw your message… 

If you wanted to offer a glimpse of ankle though (maxi-skirt) you could change that to: I’m catching up on emails after a couple of days away and saw your message… 

Pulling your hemline up to your knees (pencil skirt) you might put: I’m catching up on emails after a couple of days in Spain and saw your message… 

Or if you wanted to offer the full thigh-showing mini-skirt approach you might write: I’m catching up on emails after a couple of days in Spain to see my favourite band and saw your message… 

The more tidbits of personal info you offer, the more the recipient will feel they’re getting to know you – plus the easier they can respond in kind with their own tidbits and the quicker rapport can be built.

The litmus test

I based those examples on a recent trip I took to Spain to see my favourite band. If you’re now wondering ‘Where in Spain did she go?’ or Which band did she go to see?’ you’ve experienced for yourself exactly what your audience could experience ie an interest in getting to know the ‘personal’ in the personal brand…and that’s the ultimate goal.

Of course, you may also be wondering ‘Why the heck does she need to tell me these things?’ which is fine too; maybe you’re more of a maxi-skirt kinda person. The point is, you decide what level of personal you’re comfortable with then share that with others.

Like this? Share it or join in the discussion…

6 responses to “How Personal Should Your Personal Brand Be?”

  1. Tony O says:

    What a splendid post. Having never worn a skirt, I was curious as to where you were going with it all but having read it all through I totally agree. An important element in the messaging is how well connected you are to the recipient and the nature of the exchange- purely routine transactional, or more complex- and pitch should be matched to that. There are some people who put it all out there, all the time, to everyone, and that can only harms their brand since it is indiscriminate and comes across as attention seeking. On the other hand, if the message is to someone who you have a genuine connection with- even if tenuous- then a few conversation starters could well take the working relationship to the next level.

    • Jennifer Holloway says:

      I’m glad the skirt metaphor eventually panned out for you Tony! Good to hear from you and thanks for posting your comment.

  2. Gill Davidson says:

    As ever, you have shared such an important message in a simple way!!! I’m a knee length, going mini skirt, kinda of gal – it’s always interesting to see who still wear trousers or those who do the big reveal!!! Ultimately, it’s all about choice and making sure we and those we engage with remain comfortable. Thanks Jennifer!

    • Jennifer Holloway says:

      Sometimes the big reveal is waaaaaaaaaay to revealing. In the past I’ve had a colleague announce to the team they were off for a smear test. TMI!!!

  3. Isabel Albelda Ros says:

    I was just thinking about this very topic this morning and then I saw your post – perfect timing! Love the skirt metaphor, and the Spain example was very useful to land it – as a recovering “microskirt” kind of person I’m looking to land between mini and knee-lenght. A great addition to my brand kit.

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