What Is A Personal Brand
The phrase “personal brand” is used a lot but it’s not always clear what it means. Here’s a simple way to understand what a personal brand is, and why you should build yours.
Your personal brand is the way you present yourself to the world. Having a personal brand is simply about deciding to communicate with the world intentionally.
Consider the way you dress. It doesn’t matter if you’re “into fashion” or not. The way you dress says something about you. You can choose to be intentional about the messages you send with your clothes. Fitting in or standing out. Conformist or rebel. Contemporary or retro. Subtle or vibrant. The choices are yours.
What matters is the intention.
It’s the same with the way you communicate, both in person and online. Every idea and image you share says something about you. And the way you use things like social media can be a tool to connect with interesting people and expand your world.
It depends on your intention.
Building a personal brand isn’t about replacing your profile photo with a cheesy logo, or adopting meaningless corporate buzzwords when you talk. Those are just an act of pretence, like when kids dress up and pretend to be adults.
“To the degree that the individual maintains a show before others that he himself does not believe, he can come to experience a special kind of alienation from self.”
– Erving Goffman
The first step in building a personal brand is being honest with yourself. Who are you? Once you understand your story, you can begin to think about how to tell it. What makes you different? What makes you unique?
And what are you are asking the universe to do for you?
I think that one reason some people are cynical about talk of personal brands is because they’d like to believe the way we carry ourselves in the world, especially in the online world, doesn’t matter. Or that, as with not being into fashion, it shouldn’t matter.
Of course, that’s a possible choice.
But everyone you meet continues to interpret the messages you send into the world, trying to figure out who you are, whether you should be trusted, and whether to follow you, collaborate with you, or hire you.
So what do you want?
In a way, choosing to build your personal brand is also about choosing personal freedom.
Another reason people are sometimes cynical about personal brands is because they are uncomfortable when others talk honestly and openly about what they want from the universe, about the way they want to live their life, about how they’d like to be treated.
Dropping the pretence and being yourself takes some work. Then deciding how to communicate that, how to build your brand, how to consistently be your authentic self, can be difficult, and at times a little scary. But it’s one of the best paths to personal freedom we have.