champlain college students making silly faces with props

What is a Personal Brand?

by Sarah Wilkinson, Class of ’17

Personal branding is the marketing of oneself or one’s career as a brand. Your brand tells others who you are, what you offer, and where you’re going. The good news: you already have a brand. The rub: it may not be the brand you want to have.

If you’re showing up late to all your classes, sleeping during lectures, and are known around campus as being famous for, ahem, certain activities, then you may want to take a look at the message you’re sending other people about yourself. What would you want a prospective employer to think about you? Maybe that’s the line of thinking you should use when coming up with your personal brand.

On the other hand, someone who is involved on campus and is known as being compassionate and caring for others may be well on their way to establishing a consistent personal brand – the brand they want. It’s all about figuring out how you want other people to see you.

A Forbes article sums it up: “Your personal brand should represent the value you are able to consistently deliver…This doesn’t mean self-promotion – that you should be creating awareness for your brand by showcasing your achievements and success stories. Managing your personal brand requires you to be a great role model, mentor, and/or a voice that others can depend upon.”

Less than 15% of people have a well-defined personal brand, and only 5% of those people are consistently living their brands. That’s a low number considering the payoff for creating and maintaining a strong personal brand. Not only is personal branding the key to promotions and being a strong leader, but there are other benefits.

  1. Personal branding helps you build a network with people who really want to be connected with you – the YOU featured in your personal brand – and that you want to be connected with. Meaningful connections are more useful and beneficial than loose or acquaintance connections.
  2. Personal branding helps attract opportunities. If you know what you want and others can see it too, you’re more likely to make connections with people who know of opportunities, or you’ll be able to better recognize a good opportunity when you see it.
  3. Personal branding helps you establish credibility, which means people will trust and rely on you, and that will make you infinitely more valuable as an employee, friend, and connection.
  4. Personal branding helps you establish a strong online voice, and this means your following may become loyal overtime. When you start a business or do contracting work, or even need a favor down the road, your online following could translate into valuable connections or potential customers.

In part two of my series on Personal Branding, I’ll talk more about how you create a personal brand. In the meantime, consider this: what do you what other people to think about you?

Sources: Forbes, Undercover Recruiter, Wikipedia