What’s in a (personal) brand?

In a world full of brands and constant chatter about branding, have you ever sat down to think about what your brand is? I think that a personal brand is a convergence. A handful of traits that you and those who circle you (friends, colleagues, family, acquaintances, mentors) agree on. Your brand would be your reputation and your logo is you.

It has been a while since I’ve started re-thinking who I am and what I am contributing to the world around me. What are my strengths? What are my key skills? What are my interests? What are my hobbies? I’ve honestly sat down thinking about what my hobbies are; at some earlier point in my life, I had clearer ideas of what my hobbies are but now, I’m finding that I’m not even sure what I enjoy doing! In all fairness, I think it’s more the challenge of articulating my hobbies or interests than not having any.

I think I’m not alone when I say that, more often than not, I look to my search engine for some guidance on a topic. I decided to read up on what advice others had given on personal brands.

First off, I found a great site called DIY Business Assocation. On the site, Dixie wrote about the 20/10/4 exercise for identifying key traits that can help you hone in on your brand. You start by thinking of 20 (or more) words that you would use to describe yourself. Next, you narrow down the list to 10 words. The best bet for doing this is likely a combination of going with your gut feelings (words that you are drawn towards) and eliminating redundant ideas. And if you thought narrowing the list down to 10 was hard, the next step is to narrow down to 4 words!

My shortlist: reliable, curious, collaborative, perceptive.

So now I’d identified some words that really resonate with me and that I feel describe the essence of me. I read Dixie’s article about how the words can come together but I wasn’t sure how to connect my words together into a coherent concept.

Next, I read about authentic personal brands on Miboso and it suggested that I use the personal values (my shortlist of words) that I had identified as the base of my brand messages. Interesting…except that I haven’t a clue what this really means. Reading through the site a bit more, I found a Venn diagram on the website that shows what a brand is: the convergence of ideals, values, and strengths, playing on talent, passion, and experience. A brand draws on your past experience and helps you clearly define who you are and where you want to be.

After reading through a few other sites, I’ve realized that a personal brand is not just your reputation but also a road map. A tool that reflects both who I am and where I’ve been, are, and want to go. I still haven’t figured out how to connect my shortlisted words together to help me map out the “where I want to go” path but I like having this concrete list to lean on as I try to create a vision for my coming years.

Have you ever thought about articulating your personal brand?