What is a Personal Brand, and Why Do I Need One?

 

What is a personal brand, and why do I need one

 

You’re likely familiar with “building a brand” from a product perspective, but what is so special about building your personal brand? Is this popular career advancement tactic just a fancy sub-in for “sell yourself?”

Not quite.

See, it’s not enough to make a great impression in your performance review. In order to maximize the number of opportunities you’re given (unique opportunities that you actually want), you need to build a story about yourself that advocates for you long after you leave the room.

Because guess what happens when you’re not in the room? Pretty much every decision that decides your career growth.

This story — the one that vouches for your interests as well as your successes — is your personal brand.

But before you run away with your PR kit, let’s clarify some things.

be yourself image

Your Brand Statement Should Be True To You

Being able to define your story with a personal brand statement is a helpful starting point. Our attention spans are increasingly dwindling, and if you’ve been rehearsing your personal elevator pitch for the last decade with success, brava to you!

That said, when creating a personal brand statement, make sure it does indeed speak to you as an individual, not just the tenth “Sarah who works in Sales”” that your head of department met this month. If personal branding were as simple as your title, we would all buy the exact same brand of vacuum, pasta, etc., just because it does the job.

Read below for personal brand statement examples that double as excellent introductions.

Instead of  “Hi, I’m Megan and I’m in Marketing,” speak to what sets you apart. Try:

“Hi, I’m Megan, a creative in Marketing with a background in data science. It’s unusual, I know, but my data background allows me to analyze the parts of my work that resonate, and the parts that don’t, which helps me identify a path forward. Any good creative needs to understand their customers, and data is the way I understand mine.”

Or, instead of “I really enjoy engineering,” you can say:

“My favorite part about engineering is developing solutions to problems, both big and small. My work is pushed out to millions of users, so even a small problem becomes a big one at that scale. I get a true charge when thinking about, working on, and eventually coming up with a unique solution.”

What do these personal brand statements have in common?

They each leave an impression that is cemented in the person’s passions.

Your brand should convey the unique value that you bring to the company. You want to plant seeds that branch out beyond the “responsibilities” bullet-points of your current role and lead to a career you love.

However, saying it will only get you as far as your most immediate audience’s approval. For a personal brand to be an effective growth strategy, you have to live it.

In other words, speak more, ask more, and do more that appeals publicly to your passions; figure out what gives you fuel, and fearlessly make it known. 

promotion strategy

Your Brand Is Your Long-Game Promotion Strategy

When people know not only what makes you a rockstar on their team, but also what gives you rockstar potential — i.e., what niche passion makes you an asset no matter what deliverable is on your plate — they can more easily envision you thriving outside of your current responsibilities.

Your employer and your peers aren’t mind readers. 

Unless you tell them what kind of work brings you energy and aligns with your goals, they’ll never know how to properly utilize your full potential. This is to your detriment and theirs.

Take it from one of our members:

Brittany Testimonial

Brittany found success as she learned to lean into her passions and communicated her personal brand. Why? Because she armed her manager with talking points to advocate for her new role.

Key to your Career

It’s the Key to a Career You Love (For Real)

Pro tip: when you share what you’re great at, and what you love to do, you will quickly get more of that work.

Your manager and peers will recognize where they should plug you into projects that align with your strengths and interests. Why? Because authentic passion is attractive to decision-makers. You will naturally be more innovative, more productive, and more vocal about your work… because you love it!

Define what you’re proud of and what brings you joy, and if you keep reinforcing these things while you’re engaging with others, they will manifest before you in new ways.

We call it The Growth Cycle: do the thing you love, do it well, do it more.

The Growth Cycle

So, let’s walk through this…

You’re a sales rep, chatting with your manager about your quarterly profits, and he’s impressed. You clearly articulate how your efforts impacted the numbers, and you mention that you’ve been doing some research on new tactics: adding video to your outreach strategy could help your product stand out to new leads.

You add in that you’ve always been passionate about filmmaking, and you’ve collected data supporting the appeal of video over cold calls.

He knows this to be true, because you’ve posted about the stats on LinkedIn, and this isn’t the first time he’s heard of your interest in video; a few of your colleagues subscribe to your vlog.

Because he knows your successes, and he can link them to your passions in a way that benefits the whole team, he pitches your idea to the higher-ups. You then receive an invite to spearhead a video outreach initiative, and eventually train other sales reps to use scripts and screencasts that you now get to create.

This brings a raise, a leadership title, and (most importantly) more time in your day spent doing things you love.

Sounds like a dream, right? It’s not. It could be you.

Let’s recap: building your personal brand means having a defined, grounding sense of purpose that is transparent to those with the power to uplift you. 

It’s the engine that will propel your career down a path that you love. Don’t overcomplicate it. In the wise words of our CEO, Alli Young, identify what you love to do and do more of it.

It’s just that simple.