C H A P T E R 1

Why Build a Personal Brand?

or, How to Have Your Competitors Working for You in Five Years

You already know it’s a different world—one in which 40-year job security

is a distant memory.

These days, there’s no loyalty in corporations;

you’re as apt to be laid off at the first economic hiccup as you are to be


That’s probably one of the reasons you struck out on your own

and started a business.

And now, whether it’s just you or you have a small

office and a few employees, here’s a new question:

How do you create your own security?

Before you answer that, answer this: How many people actually know

you, as opposed to knowing your reputation? you are a dentist

or a caterer, a freelance writer or a clothing designer,

odds are most of the people in your

professional world barely know you, the person, at all.

They have expectations, and know your skills, your quirks and your résumé.

But what percentage of all those people—clients, vendors, prospects,

industry contacts and colleagues—have you actually shared drinks with?

Had dinner with? Talked about something besides work with? Twenty percent? Ten percent?

The point is, outside your immediate circle of friends and family, people

know you primarily by your personality, reputation and past performance.

In a sense, they know you by your Personal Brand.

Now, how do you create your own security?

You develop a powerful Personal Brand that influences how

potential clients, employees and decision-makers perceive you.

Once you do, your Personal Brand will transform

the marketing and growth of your business.


What Is a Personal Brand?

Your Personal Brand is the powerful, clear, positive idea

that comes to mind whenever other people think of you.

the values,abilities and actions that

others associate with you. It’s a professional alter

The Brand Called You

ego designed for the purpose of influencing how

others perceive you, and turning that perception

into opportunity.

It does this by telling your audience three things:

Who you are

What you do

What makes you different, or how you create value

for your target market

There are probably many professional contacts who

already hold a high opinion of you based on these qualities,

ve never tried to makethem feel that way.

So, imagine the benefit of consciously crafting your

Personal Brand to powerfully convey your value to people

you want to work with, and who can influence others

to work with you.

Personal Branding

help you do like the song says: “Ac-centuate the Positive.”

What a Personal Brand Does

A Personal Brand is all about influence. It influences how

the people in your target market perceive you.

If you’ve done your homework and

know the characteristics that those people find valuable,

ll create perceptions that in turn create a sense

of comfort and confidence in talking

to you about doing business.

To be effective, your Personal Brand must

evoke three basic perceptions in the minds

of your target market:


You are different. Differentiation—the ability to be seen as new and original—

is the most important aspect of Personal Branding. If you can’t be

seen as different, you’ll be seen as a follower; that makes

capturing “market share” much more difficult.

You are superior. Your brand must encourage the belief that you are

among the best at what you do in some way—faster,

providing better service,

having the latest technology, and so on.

Being seen as a leader in your field is critical to gaining

the confidence of people who don’t know you personally.

You are authentic. Great Personal Brands are spin-free zones. Your brand

must be built on the truth of who you are, what your

strength is, and what —

and it must communicate this to your market.

Today’s savvy consumer can smell shallow hype lik

e a hound smells a fox.


Why Build a Personal Brand?

A Personal Brand Is a Promise

Your Personal Brand tells prospects what they can expect

when they deal with you, which is why it’s so powerful.

s an implied covenant between a service provider and a client;

it’s a promise that makes the client believe,

“When I buy this, I will be getting that.” You see it all the

time in consumer products from cars to computers.

People buy because a brand makes them feel a certain way;

their choices are rarely rational.

But the brands create expectations, and if those expectations

are met, people buy again.

That’s “brand loyalty.” If the brand doesn’t live up to expectations,

buyers go somewhere else.

A Personal Brand works the same way. Every minute of every day, it

broadcasts information about your character, abilities and performance.

It creates expectations in the minds of others of what they’ll get when they

work with you. If your brand is sending out the right message, telling

prospects they will absolutely get what they’re looking for when they work

with you, they’ll beat down your door and burn up your phone lines.

You can see the power of a Personal Brand’s promise in the success

of Charles Schwab. You’ll probably never work directly with Schwab, but

his Personal Brand makes us a promise: When we invest using his company,

we’ll be treated like we’re wealthy. Walt Disney’s brand reassures

us about the experience we’ll have when visiting his parks, watching his

movies, or buying his products.


Some of Today’s Greatest Personal Brands

How do you know a person’s brand? If, when you think of him or her, a

single idea blocks out everything else, that’s a Personal Brand.

s what re shooting for in your own branding.

Some of today’s best examples:

Michael Jordan – The Greatest Basketball Player of All Time

Jimmy Buffett –Purveyor of the Margaritaville Lifestyle

Walter Cronkite –The Most Trusted Newsman in the Nation

Madonna –The Genius at Self-Reinvention and Self-Promotion

Tom Hanks – The Everyman of the Big Screen

Bob Vila –The Home-Renovation King

Colin Powell –Noble Leader and Statesman

The Brand Called You

Branding Is as Old as Humanity

The term “Personal Branding” is a modern invention, but the phenomenon

of people instantly labeling each other based on reputation and

behavior is as old as human interaction. Even within primitive societies,

individuals judged each other based on quick impressions, and decided

whom to trust based on unreliable emotional contexts.

Today, we all make judgments about other people with only surface

information in hand. Consider a cocktail party.

You meet someone and in ve made up your mind about

his education, his wealth, and his manners

. If you get to know him later, you may change your mind about

some things, but those quick-flash perceptions will be hard to shake.

You’ve just encountered his personal image, the DNA of his Personal


So, Personal Branding is a natural, organic part of human society.

The difference today is, we’ve learned the secrets that let

 you determine how others perceive you. What we’re basically saying is:

Define your brand, or your brand will define you.

A Personal Image Is Not a Personal Brand

Everyone has personal image. It’s the collection of qualities people

identify with you: your sense of humor, your hairstyle, your clothing, your

favorite food, your physical characteristics, and so on.

Together, these qualities help people form a mental picture of you.

A Personal Brand is different because it is how other people perceive

you. On the outside, former President Bill Clinton looks like a noble,

attractive and credible statesman. But because of his past actions, most

people perceive Clinton very differently—his brand is that of a misguided,

has-been politician. In the best circumstances, a personal image

is an accurate reflection of the Personal Brand.

Mother Theresa looked like a woman dedicated to

lifelong servitude of the poor and indigent, and we think of her as a

modern-day saint. There is complete integrity between her personal image

and Personal Brand; the personal image is truly an accurate reflection of

the Personal Brand.

fun brand2

To Brand, Take Active Steps

Your personal brand also exerts influence in your professional world…and

it’s not always the kind of influence you’re seeking. You’ve been creating

your personal brand passively, without any awareness of the process or

the consequences. That’s all right; 99 percent of people—including your

Why Build a Personal Brand?

competitors—do the same. But do you really want to be as clueless as your


Transforming a personal image into a Personal Brand that creates

business opportunity means taking  active control of the process—defining

how prospective customers, colleagues and members of the media perceive

you. It means cutting and polishing your brand so everyone who

comes into contact with it forms the same basic set of words in their mind

when they hear your name. It’s packaging the things that make you great

at what you do, and sending that message out into the world to sparkle.

Imagine being able to shape the opinions of decision-makers in your

profession or of the CEOs of top corporations. Imagine being regarded as

a uniquely gifted expert offering value that’s instantly obvious.

Imagine being able to double your fees because demand is so high.

Those are the things Personal Branding can do.


It Isn’t About Getting Famous

Our culture loves Personal Brands.

We celebrate and analyze them in the most public ways possible.

We love to rank them, to debate who’s fallen

from grace and why.

And we pay for them, turning icons like Oprah

Winfrey or Tiger Woods into multimillionaires.

That explains the many “most powerful” lists published every year,

ranking the 100 biggest power brokers in Hollywood, the 100 mightiest

names in sports, and so on. But for us, there’s a point to these lists. See

how many of these names you know:

Time/CNN Global Business Influentials 2002Richard Barton,

 Founder and CEO of ExpediaCarla Cico,

CEO of Brasil TelecomGuerrino de Luca,

 CEO of Logitech InternationalHebert Demel,Chief of Magna Steyr

Robert Kazutomo Hori,CEO of CybirdDavid Ji and

Ancle Hsu,Founders of Apex Digital

Naina Lal Kidwai, Investment Banking Guru, HSBC

Eric KimMarketing Chief of Samsung

Sallie Krawcheck,CEO of Citi’s new Smith Barney unit

Rob Lawes, CEO of HIT Entertainment

The Brand Called You Strive Masiyiwa,

 Founder of Econet Wireless Dee Mellor,

 Vice President, GE Medical Systems Adebayo Ogunlesi,

 CSFB’s Global Banking Chief Myrtle Potter,

 COO of Genentech Ginni Rometty,

 GM, IBM Business Consulting Services

branding aaa

These are all very powerful Personal Brands—in their professions.

But there’s no Bill Gates, no Larry Ellison, no Steve Jobs or Jack Welch.

You’ve probably never heard of most of these people.

Personal Branding is all about wielding influence in your profession,

not getting famous.

Influence changes minds and creates wealth.

What Can Personal Branding Do for Your Business?

Personal Branding works for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re a physician

in private practice or an attorney looking for clients, a caterer trying

to get the attention of affluent neighbors or a collectibles specialist with

your own shop. All business is based on relationships. People work with

you not because of your size or reach, but because they know you, your

reputation, and your character.

 You create the value.

The Benefits of a Great Personal Brand:

More of the right kind of clients—Do you want more affluent clients?

Clients from a certain ethnic group? Clients with the right connections?

Building a tailored Personal Brand is the best way to get them to come

to you.

Increased earning potential—Your Personal Brand will position you as

one of the leaders in your field of expertise. As such, you’ll be able to

demand higher pay.

Consistent flow of business—Once you’re branded, you’re no longer

anonymous in your field. Your name, expertise and strengths are known.

When you’re consistently getting your Personal Brand message out,

business comes to you in a steady stream, without you having to chase

after it.

Draws beneficial people—A powerful Personal Brand creates an “aura”

that attracts the people who can benefit you. Look at the Personal Brand

of Secretary of State Colin Powell: honest, noble, a leader. In 1996, Powell

had no interest in running against Bill Clinton for President, yet he had

Why Build a Personal Brand?

to beat the Republican nomination off with a stick. He didn’t pursue the

opportunity; his Personal Brand attracted it.

“Top-of-mind” status—When someone thinks about a project or opportunity

where you are one of numerous candidates, your name is one of

the first that comes to mind.

Increased credibility—If you’re well-known, you must be good. That’s

the logic of the marketplace, and when you have a Personal Brand, it works

in your favor. Your ideas and decisions gain weight and clout.

Leadership role—A strong Personal Brand encourages people to put you

in charge. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan (Personal Brand:

Wizard of the Economy) can prop up or torpedo Wall Street with a few

well-chosen words.

Enhanced prestige—Prestige can stem from accomplishments, position,

knowledge, or even personal style. It gives your actions more weight and

increases your financial value.

Added perceived value—A Personal Brand that conveys honesty, knowledge

and intelligence will enhance sales as the customer perceives that

the relationship with you adds value.

Greater recognition—Recognition is about credit for accomplishments and

the opportunities that result. Great Personal Brands are hard to hide, and

if your stamp is on a project or product, people will know it.

Association with a trend—A Personal Brand can position you as being

part of a hot business methodology or new technology.

What a Personal Brand Won’t Do for You

Cover up incompetence—You’ve got to be good to make your Personal

Brand work. If you’re second-rate at what you do, it will come out. Not

only will a Personal Brand not hide incompetence, it will make the consequences worse.

Make you famous—Fame is an accident, and it’s certainly not a ticket to

success. Your Personal Brand is about influencing key people in your

domain, not fame for fame’s sake.

Get you to your goals by itself—On its own, your Personal Brand will not

put your goals on your doorstep. You’ve got to set the right goals, maintain

a level of excellence, actively promote your brand, and be consistent.


The Brand Called You

Some Cold, Hard Facts About Personal Branding

A great brand is the advertiser’s Holy Grail. But like Arthur’s knights, most

of them end up following false leads and never find what they’re seeking.

That’s because building a brand takes knowledge, patience and persistence.

As the failed Internet companies who wasted millions on Super Bowl

ads can attest, branding doesn’t happen overnight.

Here are our Personal Branding Commandments (stone tablets


 Brands take time to develop. A smart brander can put the elements of

a great brand in place, but it grows at its own pace. You can’t rush branding.

Oprah Winfrey is a perfect example of growing a brand over time with

exposure, sincerity and accomplishment. Oprah spent years acting, doing

her talk show and working to help other women before she became a

world-famous media mogul, and she did it without rampant self-promotion.

Only after she built her empire did she strap into the hype machine.

Typically, even the best Personal Branding campaigns take at least six

months to show results.

Brands grow organically. The best Personal Brands develop at the grassroots

level, as a result of strong communication, a sense of purpose, and

the person behind the brand backing up the brand’s promise again and

again. With the help of judicious PR and consistent public exposure, people

start to see that the brand has real value, and the person behind the

brand is just as real. You can’t force a Personal Brand down someone’s

throat in this skeptical age; they’ll spit it back in your face. To last, your

Personal Brand must grow at its own pace. Plant it and let it blossom.

Brands are not rational. Imagine the meeting when ad agency Wieden+

Kennedy pitched the slogan “Just do it” to Nike. The tagline has nothing

to do with shoes, which is why it has become a classic. Instead of trying

to build a brand based on their shoes—a commodity—Nike built it on striving,

sweating and sacrificing to be the best. To its credit, Nike focused on

hitting customers in the gut.

Brands demand consistency and clarity. In 2001, K-Mart filed for bankruptcy

in a move that left market-watchers in shock. As the dust settles

and K-Mart reorganizes, one of the biggest factors in its downfall has to

be the lack of a consistent, clear brand. What was K-Mart? It had no

clear brand, and in the face of brutal competition, that’s as bad as having

no brand at all.

Why Build a Personal Brand?

Branding never doesn’t work. Skeptical companies will claim branding

doesn’t work. This is simply not true. Branding always works—it

either attracts new business or drives it away. There’s no middle ground

to branding; it always produces a result. Will that be the result you

want? That depends on how well you know your target market and

build your brand.

Is Personal Branding Cynical and Manipulative?

Personal Branding is controversial. In this age, when advertising has permeated

every part of daily life, and corporations are seen as being able

to commercialize anything, some claim that building Personal Brands

dehumanizes us, manipulates human relationships for financial gain,

and turns us all into products.

We could not disagree more, and here’s why:

Personal Branding is already part of human interaction. Everyone has

a Personal Brand. It’s an essential part of how we relate to each other, allowing

us to make fast judgments of others based on a few clues. So, while

the concept may seem sinister and akin to mind control, it’s simply part

of who we are.

Personal Branding is already everywhere. How do you think Charles

Schwab, Stephen Covey, Meg Ryan and Joe Montana have become rich

and famous? Personal Branding. It’s already in use by celebrities, people

who want to turn their names into industries and themselves into moguls.

It’s accepted by our culture, and the culture’s built-in filters have an

uncanny knack for rejecting Personal Brands they don’t like.

Personal Brands must “keep it real” to be successful. The best Personal

Brand always reflects the true character of the person behind it. Slick, shallow,

manipulative brands always crash and burn, sooner or later. People

respect what’s real and Personal Brands built on lies inevitably spiral in

an ugly way. Just ask former televangelist Jim Bakker. Your Personal

Brand must represent who you are, flaws and all.

You’ve got to build a brand you can live with…consistently. Most people

know that strong relationships with clients build strong long-term

business. The only way to build those relationships is if your Personal Brand

and the person behind it—you—are 100 percent in sync. In our experience,

brands that reflect your true passions, goals and purpose are brands you

can live with and maintain over your entire career.

eye 2

The Brand Called You

Personal Brand Case Study

in every type of communication, from business cards and signage to

brochures, answering the phones, and so on

Why Build a Personal Brand?

“Don’t think of branding as something you do, and then it’s done. It’s a

relationship, like a marriage. There’s a way you present yourself to the other

person. There are expectations and benefits that are shared, back and forth.

Start with ongoing communication and continue to run your business that

way. One thing I’ve learned is a brand isn’t something that goes out there

and lives on its own. It takes care.”

Brandstorming Your Personal Brand:

8 Great Things You Can Do Right Now


 Talk to colleagues, customers and staff about how they see you.


 Make a list of your strongest professional traits and skills.


 Compare your list with what others tell you. How do things differ?


 List your main competitors and their personal images.


 List the things that make you different from your competition.


 Write down the values, interests or traits you share with

your customers.


 Start asking referral clients what the person who referred them

said about you.


 Start a “genius file”: Collect the branding materials of the professionals in

your area who have great Personal Brands: real estate agents, doctors, financial advisors, etc. Make sure they’re not competitors.

Bottom Line No. 1: How Personal Branding Equals More Business

Creating basic name awareness


You’re a real estate agent in a highly competitive market. In this

market, you have about 3,000 competitors, all offering basically the same

service as you. So, you’re anonymous, just another voice on the phone

or name on a lawn sign.

The Brand Called You


Because you’ve been through a divorce, you create a Personal

Brand as a skilled specialist in handling real estate during divorce settlements.

You promote your brand via ads and direct mail throughout an area

heavily populated with couples in their 40s, the most common age group

for divorce.


Couples in this area get to know you not as another real estate

agent, but as a specialist who’s been through a divorce and is sensitive

to the situations that can arise. You’ve gone from a large group (generalists)

to a small group (specialists). You’ve given divorcing couples a

strong benefit to calling you, and your calls from this target market

increase by more than 100 percent within three months.

Brand Surgery: Avoiding Tragic Branding Mistakes

The Patient: Your Company Brand

Do not create a Company Brand that’s separate from your Personal Brand.

You are your company.

Don’t give your company a dry, corporate-sounding name. The plague of

independent businesses everywhere is they think they must sound like “a

company” to be taken seriously. But would you rather work with a monolithic

corporation or a person who cares for your needs?

If you have employees, pass along the personal values that make you love

your business to them. They help spread your brand in everything they

do, and if they understand your passions, most will reflect them. Get rid

of the ones who don’t.

Design your workspace to reflect your Personal Brand, which is your

Company Brand. This doesn’t have to mean renovating your building

(let’s be realistic), but it can be as simple as small décor changes, signage

or furniture.

Be specific in communicating the benefits underlying your Company

Brand. Everyone offers “great customer service” or “the lowest prices.”

Use your brand to communicate the unique things you do that create value,

from creativity to specialized experience to comfortable chairs.

Don’t make your Company Brand dependent on your direct involvement.

If you do, you’ll be a slave to your business, with everything dependent

on your hands-on participation.

ThinkBrand poster_Page_1


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