16 Jul 2016

Defining Your Personal Brand Will Focus Your Career


Being a fireman is a personal brandHave you thought about how to define your personal brand? Do you even know what that means?

When you were a child, did you ever ask yourself what you wanted to be when you grew up? I wanted to be an astronaut, and later I changed and decided I would be a fighter pilot or a fireman. As the years went by, my goals changed several times, and finally, at around 20 years of age, I settled on being a computer programmer, then a computer operator and manager. Later in life, just a few years ago, I sat down and concluded what I’ve wanted all along is to be a professional freelance writer and that has become my personal brand.

That’s the first step towards creating a personal brand – deciding what you want to be, or, in other words, what job you want to perform (or the role you want to take.)

Sometimes this is thrust upon you by circumstance. When I was 20 years old, I was offered a job in the computer industry. Up until that time, I planned to be a geologist, but the lure of a steady income, which gave me the means to get out of my parents house to live on my own, caused me to change my goal.

Define Your Job or Role

A personal brand begins simply as defining what job you want to perform (or are already performing) or what type of product or service you want to deliver. You might decide you are (or will be) the CEO of a manufacturing company, a freelance writer (as I did), a trapeze artist or a clown in a major circus.

Remember the brand is what you do for others, and is very closely related to the delivery of products and services. The focus is mostly outward towards your clients, your employer and your co-workers. The focus of a brand is not inwards towards you. You are concerned, of course, about income and other benefits, and you may want to mention them, but keep the main focus on what you do rather than what you get.

Understand the Words

Make sure you understand all of the words in your brand definition. In my brand:

  • “Professional” means high quality products and services which produce income
  • “Freelance” means I work as a contractor
  • “Writer” means to compose using words

Flesh out your Personal Brand

Part of a brand is the audienceOnce you’ve got a solid idea of your brand and what it means to you, spend some time brainstorming to fill in the details. Answer some questions about the brand. Some examples include:

  • What are your products and services?
  • What image does your brand imply? For example, a circus clown’s image would be different from a trapeze artist, and a CEO’s image is very different from a freelance writer.
  • Who is your audience?
  • Who are your clients?

Sometimes it is best to work with another person to help define the brand. They can listen to you describe your brand and ask questions to help you narrow the focus and define it in a way that is understandable to others.

It’s best to write a description of your brand, keeping it to less than a page. You’ll refer to this often as you continue forward on the process of refining and establishing your image to the world.

Finally, spend the time to get your brand right before you move on to any further branding steps. The further you go along in the process, the more costly and difficult it can be to change. Consider that you’ll need to do things such as blogging, creating a LinkedIn profile, printing business cards and so on, you can see that changing your brand late in the process will require a lot of rework that can be avoided.

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Jilly Prather

Great advice as usual.


Great tips. I am using the “branding principle” a lot lately. In creating my own website, which everyone said I should not overthink and just “do it”, but instead I researched the keywords a lot and put together a customer-centruc copy. I hired a designer to do my visual identity and a logo. I plan to launch a serious marketing funnel. All that because I want it to look professional and serious. Because that is exactly what I offer.

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