Personal brands: An introduction

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Think about these questions:

  • Do you have a “brand” and a “value proposition?”
  • How do you want to present yourself?

Are you a brand?

This is silly. Brands are things like Coke and McDonalds and IBM. How can you be a brand?

Some people think it’s not a silly idea at all. They think that everyone has a value proposition, and their brand captures that. Here are just two of the many books on the topic:

[amazon 1857885457 full]

[amazon 0967450667 full]

Here’s the idea. Brands are things like “Google” and “IBM.” What matters is the beliefs that these words bring to peoples’ minds.

This is different for different people. To me, “Google” says “search engine,” “free Google Docs,” and “innovation.” “IBM” says “corporate computing,” “high end,” and “reliable.”

Lincoln Renata The same holds for people. Famous ones, like Abraham Lincoln, and not so famous ones, like Renata. Each one brings to mind some characteristics. Renata is young, smart, playful, and energetic. And much cuter than Lincoln.

When someone hears your name, that triggers some associations. If they know you, some of their beliefs will come from experience. For example, an instructor might know whether you work hard, but not whether you are playful.

What about people who don’t know you? If they see your Web site, they get information from that.

People form their own beliefs. They might not always believe what you want them to. For example, this is from a job application:

Am a perfectionist and rarely if if ever forget details.

Hmm. You can read more like this at JobMob.


But advertisers lie! Are you telling me to lie to build my “brand?”


No! That would be a Big Mistake.

  • You might get caught. Then what?
  • People who find out will wonder what else you are lying about.
  • It’s simply wrong. What sort of person are you, anyway?

So what are you saying?


Keep in mind what impression your Web site gives. Maybe you make a goth site. That’s cool, but what does it say to employers?

Maybe there’s a way you can have a site that other goths like, without turning employers off.

You don’t have to think of yourself as a brand, if that bothers you. But remember to think about how you present yourself to different audiences.

Who thinks what?

Suppose you want to put your personal brand on the Web. Think about the people you want to see your brand. For each one, ask yourself:

What aspects of myself would I like this person to know about?

For example, you might want employers to know that you’re a good student.

Give evidence, where you can. When someone claims to be a good student, I expect to see evidence, like grades, commendations, work samples, etc.


  • You can think of yourself as a brand, when it comes to your eMe site.
  • Think about how you want to present yourself to different audiences.


How to...