Personal Brand 101 – Part 1

As I said in my last post, the Curse of Knowledge means I can sometimes forget what it’s like to not know what I already know.

That can make it difficult when it comes to introducing people to my specialist subject of personal branding, because the quantity of what I know is pretty big. (Whereas my knowledge of Shakespeare or the Premier League wouldn’t fill an egg-cup.)

So here’s my attempt to explain what a personal brand is, from the view of someone who’s learning about it for the first time, with Part 1 of my Personal Brand 101. (Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4 follow.) And even if you think you already know what a personal brand is, you may discover some nuances you hadn’t realised, so read on…

What is a personal brand?

A personal brand works much the same way as any type of brand. It’s a mix of factors – some tangible, some intangible – that come together to give people a feel of both what and who you’re all about, so they can decide if they’re going to buy into that brand.

Your ‘what’ is the tangible stuff – the more readily quantifiable aspects of your brand that let others know what you bring to the table: what knowledge and experience you have, what results you’ve delivered, what qualifications you’ve gained…what the hell it is you get paid for.

Your ‘who’ is the intangible stuff – the part that tells people who it is that’s bringing that what to the table: your personality, your character, your attitude, your morality…what the hell it is that makes you tick.

You need both parts to be working positively in your personal brand, in order for people to want to buy it.

However, if either your ‘what’ or your ‘who’ isn’t working, that buy-in can’t happen – for example, if you’re a technical whizz at your job (a positive ‘what’) but a boring dullard to work with (a negative ‘who’). Or if you’re great fun to work with (a positive ‘who’) but useless at your job (a negative ‘what’).

Are you with me so far?

What you’ve got there is a top-line view of what constitutes a personal brand. There’s a catch though: if you try and define your own brand just in terms of your ‘what’ and ‘who’ you’ll find it’s a bit too fuzzy. That’s why I created what I’ve nattily termed the Personal Brand Pyramid to extrapolate those two factors into six further elements:

If you’re now thinking, “Well, that’s all very pretty but what does it mean – and how do I apply that to define my own brand?” all will be revealed.

Just look out for Personal Branding 101 – Part 2 tomorrow. And if you’ve any thoughts to share in the meantime, feel free to post them in the comment box below.

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