The meteoric speed by which the concept of “Personal Branding” has become judged as an indispensable asset in career success is nothing short of startling.   

It’s just over 21 years since author Tom Peters introduced the concept in a Fast Company article, “Brand Called You.” Go ahead and Google “Personal Branding” today and you’ll see pages and pages of links to top tips, articles, blogs, videos/podcasts, and experts’ websites touting their instruction programs.  The search can be maddening because of the sheer volume of information, and confusing because the information often appears to provide contradictory advice.

At Temple University, I am asked frequently one question by aspiring marketing professionals: “Why should I care about personal branding?”  I like to respond with a simple question: “Well, who are you?”  Tellingly, they don’t have a clear answer, if one at all.  That’s problematic because in both their professional and personal lives, young adults will have that question fired at them directly and indirectly more times than they’ll ever anticipate.

Let’s See What Wikipedia Says…

“Personal branding is the practice of people marketing themselves and their careers as brands. While previous self-help management techniques were about self-improvement, the personal-branding concept suggests instead that success comes from self-packaging.”

At the heart, Personal Branding is about self-discovery, understanding how to establish a positive image or impression of you in the mind of others. “Your brand is a perception or emotion, maintained by somebody other than you, that describes the total experience of having a relationship with you,” said authors David McNally and Karl Speak in their classic book on personal brand, Be Your Own Brand.

At the extreme, Personal Branding is used to sell – in the form of the all-encompassing self-promotion that we’ve become engulfed on social media, and celebrity using their self-promotion platform to market products or services.

If you strip out the shameless aspect of self-promotion, Personal Branding has become essential or college students and young adults – a check-the-box necessity if it helps them develop personal presentation skills, and be able to describe comfortably their career goals and potential value in the job search process — with clarity and confidence.

Employee-Employer Brand Alignment

To look back is to understand the future.  Regarding Personal Branding, in addition to the “Brand Called You” article, Karl Speak provides an astute and informed history of the development of Personal Brand – from employer brand-centric to employee-centric. 

Please take the time to understand the transition to a Personal Brand world by reading his article, “When Brand Became Personal, It Changed Everything.”  A snippet from Karl’s articles talks about the personal-professional alignment:

For today’s young business leaders, the growth of their personal brand is at least as important as building the brand of their employer. However, the growth of one’s personal brand does not have to be at the expense of her/his employer’s brand, but it will always take precedence. When the two brands are in alignment, the possibilities of brand synergy abound.

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