Personal branding is the practice of people marketing themselves and their careers as brands. … Personal branding is essentially the ongoing process of establishing a prescribed image or impression in the mind of others about an individual, group, or organization. – Wikipedia
2017 will long be remembered as the year when personal branding took a lot of hits. Professional careers destroyed when reprehensible actions and words often from a bygone time came back to haunt men who thought themselves invincible. To Amazon’s Jeff Bezos point, “branding is what people say about you when you’re not in the room” but unfortunately the truth had been merely whispered for too long.
Consistency is an important part of personal branding. A Google search of Ivanka Trump reveals many (too many) areas in which she brands herself. 2017 has seen Ivanka pick and choose which persona to use as the moment or event dictates. I have a particular aversion to her calling herself an ‘entrepreneur’; businesswoman yes, but entrepreneurship isn’t something you slip on and off like an Oscar de la Renta dress in order to be invited to give a keynote speech on the subject.
Hillary Clinton paid the price of overplayed and unyielding strong woman branding. During the campaign photographs of her interacting with grandchildren or admitting she had ‘rotten flu that had led to dehydration’ would have gone a long way in reaching the electorate. Neither would have been signalling of the much over feared weakness but a look into a real person. If the branding message isn’t human we lose any hope of connecting with those we want to reach. Oddly it took her eloquent concession speech for many to feel they finally knew her a little better.
Some people like Sheryl Sandberg make A Case Against Personal Branding; the argument being ‘We are not products but people’. Unfortunately, from the moment you posted that first (yes) Facebook post even on your personal page you started to brand yourself. Every word, link, photo and video reinforces you as a mother, feminist, dog dad, religious person, racist, crafty, DIYer; your persona and lifestyle shared for family and friends to see.
Entrepreneurs innately know ‘they are their business’. As we grow, shape and expand our companies we simultaneously must continue to build a powerful and visible personal brand. We are not products however the very act of searching someone before hiring or doing business with them would dispute the theory that we are not creating an ongoing digital story of our personal and professional lives.
10 Amazing Personal Branding Examples from Rebrandly
Jill Crossland is a business and marketing consultant who can take your business and social media to the next level.