What Exactly IS Personal Branding? And Why Should You Care?

History of Personal Branding

The term Personal Branding was first made popular in the workplace in 1997 by Tom Peters in an article he wrote for Fast Company titled, The Brand Called You!

Mr. Peters is an American writer on business management practices, and best known for his book called, In Search of Excellence; however, I give the original concept of Personal Branding to a sociologist named Erving Goffman.

Mr. Goffman referred to the concept that Mr. Peters referenced, Personal Branding, as Impression Management in his book, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, published in 1956. It can be as simple as semantics but suffice to know there is a direct correlation.

Mr. Goffman was the first to conceptualize Impression Management and was the first to look at Impression Management as an objective field of study of sociology. Impression Management is defined as a process, consciously or unconscious, in which one attempts to influence the perceptions of other people about one’s self. Impression Management has a “manipulative tone” to its process; however, it has evolved into the phenomena we now call, Personal Branding, removing its manipulative undertone.


“If you don’t determine your destiny someone else will.”

         Parker Geiger

                    CEO CHUVA

What is a Personal Brand?

Your reputation defines your Personal Brand. You gain this reputation by everything you do, everything you say, everything you represent, everything you associate yourself with, and everything you produce. All these “activities and interactions” create an emotional connection with others and it is these thoughts, feelings and associations held within people’s mind collectively, that impacts your Personal Brand.

A Personal Brand is not about being someone you are not or about boosting or bragging.

It is also NOT about judgment; however, it is often about change or modification. It is about adapting new form, shape and meaning into defining who you are at your very CORE. More on this concept in a future blog.

The Concept Behind Personal Branding                             

In the article that Mr. Peters wrote, The Brand Called You!, Here’s what he had to say about Personal Branding, which I think pretty much sums up the concept in a nutshell.

“It’s time for me — and you — to take a lesson from the big brands, a lesson that’s true for anyone who’s interested in what it takes to stand out and prosper in the new world of work.

Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.”

What does he mean by that? Let’s use Coca-Cola as an example. Coca-Cola started out making one drink, but now they make many different types of beverages, even coffee. Coca-Cola is now the No. 1 provider of both sparkling and still beverages worldwide. And although Coke has many different products each product requires different approaches from packaging to marketing.  That is why Coke does not market vitaminwater the same as it does Diet Coke. Each product is independent of each other.


a product by Coca-Cola

So, depending upon the product, Coca-Cola must determine how that product will be packaged, what colors, fonts and medium will best represent the product. Then it comes to how the product will be marketed. Will it be via email campaigns, TV commercials, socially, or a combination? Coke and other companies spend a great deal of time and money on all these things before a product is brought to market. And although you don’t need to spend a lot of money, you do have to put in a lot of time. This is where and why when someone stops working on their personal brand.

In the beginning, you must put a great deal of time and effort into building your brand, I call it your Personal Branding Sweat Equity. As things are set into place, you will spend a lot less time when it comes to maintaining your personal brand. Again, I will write more about this in a future blog.

You, on the other hand are not many brands to an organization. You are a unified, one-brand with many talents and strengths! You can think of each of your talents and strengths as “ingredients of your brand; however, do not confuse these aspects of you as many different brands. They are just different aspects of you that help define your brand. And depending on your situation at a given time, will determine which talents and strengths you choose to “highlight” or “promote” throughout your career. But keep in mind that you are a one-brand, unlike Coke, where each product is a distinct brand in every sense of the word.

What Is Personal Branding?

It’s the action you take to create your personal brand. Personal Branding is the process in which you make others aware of your Personal Brand by communicating your true strengths, values and passions. But how do you go about doing this? Personal Branding is about self-awareness, self-esteem, physical image and presence. It is about taking responsibility, taking action, and taking control of your career development. It is about growth and oftentimes change. Your Personal Brand is about all these things.

What is The Purpose of Personal Branding?

The purpose of developing and maintaining a Personal Branding is so that you can conscious­ly manage your career by developing and enhancing your Visibility, Image, and Performance in the marketplace to maintain current business opportunities and secure future business engagements. 

Reasons Why to Develop and Maintain Your Personal Brand

 Building a personal brand will help you to:

Ensure others have consistent experiences through all encounters they may have with you.

Ensure that those who experience you, or something you created, are positioned so they will tell others via word of mouth or digitally.

Personal Branding enables you  to communicate  what you  do and how you do it with your individuality.

Use your unique skills and attributes to stand out from others and expand your  success potential.

  1.  Be consistent in how you “show up”.
  2. Be known and understood.
  3. Represent your business and ethical values.
  4. Highlight skill-sets that are relevant to the job-at-hand.
  5. Resonate with others to be remembered in a positive light.
  6. Strategically manage your career.
  7. Differentiate yourself from others.
  8. Create a space where people want to know and listen to you.
  9. Build a network that “promotes” you while you are not present.
  10. Communicate clearly and succinctly who you are and what you know.

With all this said, it sounds like developing and maintaining a personal brand can be overwhelming, and It can be, but only if you let it. But where and how do you start the personal branding process? To that I say, you are  already building your brand.

What do I mean by that?

Your Personal Brand to this point in your career has evolved, either with or without you. Chances are it’s been a little of both.

A Brand Is Not Authentic, It Is Built on Being Authentic.

In my workshops on Personal Branding I often start the session with asking the group what Personal Branding means to them. I constantly get, authentic. When asked what that means, I get responses such as:  being transparent, having moral values, being honest, speaking one’s truth, meaning to everyone know EVERYTHING about you. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to know everything about you, nor do I think you want or need to know everything about me. But I digress.

Brands are not a static, sterile image that is created. Brands are revealed, and the keyword here is “being”. Being present in the entire process. From my perspective and experience, to be authentic, you have to understand and know that when developing and maintaining a personal brand you must be involved. Meaning you must always be present. Let me explain.

In order to be authentic, you must first start with being self-conscious. Not from the perspective of being unduly critical of yourself. For example, being self-conscious about your weight, or being self-conscious that you are not smart enough to do a job.

We all are self-conscious to some extent. And being self-conscious can be used for the good. It can direct us to lose weight if really needed or it can lead us to see ourselves in a more positive light.

When I use self-conscious in terms of personal branding I am speaking from a philosophical perspective. Meaning that you know and recognize that  you are a conscious being, not just a mindless shell of a body, going through a daily life of non- existence.

When evolving your brand from a conscious perspective, you create a space for an involution approach to building your personal brand. This means that you are aware of all of your “activities and actions”, and that you must take responsibility for the outcome of every business opportunity.

It is this conscious-choice that creates your authentic, personal brand. Why? Because you make better choices. Being unconscious, means you make choices usually based from  fear and not from not being present. These choices are made by you being reactive. In other words, you react to something and not even know you are doing so.

Being in The Power Seat!

This involution process is “True Empowerment”.  Coming from this perspective, you then have a positive influence on others. Mr. Peters said,

“If you want to grow your brand, you’ve got to come to terms with power — your own. The key lesson: power is not a dirty word!”

He goes on to say, “It’s not ladder power, as in who’s best at climbing over the adjacent bods. It’s not who’s-got-the-biggest-office-by-six-square-inches power or who’s-got-the-fanciest-title power. It’s influence power.”

I write his words because I could not have said it better. In my seminars I always say, “keep your power”. When you give your power away, you give a piece, if not all of you away to others. If you struggle with this term of “power”, remember this, if you don’t determine your destiny someone else will. Do you want to leave your career in the hands of someone else that does not have any vested interest in you and your needs? No one knows you better than you!

Here is what I believe being an authentic brand is all about. It is the foundation for building your brand. Being authentic will be your inner-guide when making choices and decisions. It is authentic because every choice you make or action you take will stem from this place of choice, therefore, authenticity will run all through your brand.

You might be saying to yourself, okay, I am in. I am conscious, but where do I begin to build my personal brand? You can begin here by reading this blog: “The Personal Branding Wheel™…how to get started building your personal brand.

To read more blogs on the topics of Personal Branding, click here. Keep in mind that we are constantly adding new blogs so be sure to check back!

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