An Introduction to Personal Branding
Management-guru Tom Peters introduced the concept of personal branding as an important marketing strategy for managers as well as entrepreneurs in his 1997 book, The Brand Called You. He added to this In 1999 with his follow up book, The Brand You 50 Or: Fifty Ways to Transform Yourself from an ‘Employee’ into a Brand That Shouts Distinction, Commitment, and Passion! This was the rallying cry to develop a personal brand image. Let’s begin with a quote from that work.
“If there is nothing very special about your work, no matter how hard you apply yourself you won’t get noticed, and that increasingly means you won’t get paid much either. In times past you could be obscure yet secure—now that’s much harder.” (Tom Peters, 1999).
There’s been a lot of water under the bridge since the late nineties. Time enough for one then-middle schooler named Dan Schawbel to have read Peters’ book, have his mind blown, get religion and become the personal branding strategist to Generation Y. Schawbel found his passion in what Peters taught, decided to make it his ‘thing’ and began the process of becoming the recognized personal branding expert for his generation. In Dan’s words today:
“In a global marketplace, the recruitment process forces everyone to be a networker, the internet forces everyone to be a marketer, and the economy forces everyone to be an expert.”
In this leader-follower example of Tom Peters and Dan Schawbel, we have a great case-study in ‘brand discovery’. Brand discovery is the first part of personal branding and it starts with crafting your personal vision statement. This statement describes the kind of world you want to create through your life’s work.
Establishing Your Personal Brand
Your personal vision statement is the bedrock of your personal brand. It is a clear, affirmative statement of what your career is all about. It’s the answer to the question ‘what good do you want to create in the world through the work that you do?’ It’s a compelling image, an idea perceived vividly in your imagination. Shaped into vision, results become more doable. Your personal vision statement first has its effect on you and then, once you begin to communicate that vision to the world around you, it will also impact your potential customers, clients or employers. A vision motivates and empowers you. It helps you persevere in the face of difficult circumstances and adversity. It enables you to stretch beyond limits and produce extraordinary results.
A clear, compelling vision of a desired result generates energy. It inspires you to greater effort. It helps you see where you are relative to where you want to be. But remember, it’s not just vision that generates power. It’s the creative tension that arises out of the gap between vision and reality that generates the energy of creating. With a vision in mind, you now have a standard to compare other options to. Those opportunities that can bring you closer to your vision should be considered or pursued until experience shows you otherwise.
From here, please go to the Personal Vision Statement worksheet to begin developing your own personal vision statement.