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Do You Have a Personal Brand?


In prior posts we've discussed personal brand vs personal branding and why personal brand is a misnomer.

For today's post, let's step back and ask two fundamental questions about personal brand:

  • Do you have a personal brand?

  • How do you know you have a personal brand?

Let's take them one a time.

Do you have a personal brand?

The answer is a simple and unequivocal 'Yes.'

You absolutely have a personal brand. The answer of 'Yes' may seem obvious to some, and to others that answer may feel unsatisfying until we answer question two.

Fair enough. So let's address the second, and arguably more important question:

How do you know you have a personal brand?

Let's start by looking at brand for a product.

Any brand, in its simplest form, is a story. That story is designed to communicate value. And that value is based on perception of those that come in contact with the brand.

If you look at Tide laundry detergent, you likely have perceptions about its story and value.

These perceptions of the Tide product arise out of an awareness. That awareness can be from various forms of advertising, product usage, or seeing the product online/in store when shopping.

You may also have additional perceptions about the product which can include:

Tide logo
Source: Wikipedia
  • Tide's cleaning technology

  • Product packaging (e.g., Tide PODS)

  • Friends use of the product

  • Product scent

All of these perceptions, and many more, are rank ordered according to the highest pain you are experiencing which, in this case, is having dirty clothes that need to be cleaned.

Typically, we do all of the above perception ranking unconsciously.

As a result of your analysis, you end up with a particular perceived value of the Tide brand which is arrived at by your story which is then comprised of, and based on, your perceptions. All of which is grounded by the particular pain you are seeking to solve.

Assuming that perceived value is positive, then you are likely inclined to purchase/use Tide to clean your dirty clothes. If that perceived value is negative, then you will likely look at additional brands or seek more information on Tide to understand its value more clearly.

Now whether your story about the Tide brand that you hold in mind is the same story that Procter & Gamble (the company that makes Tide) wants you to hold in mind about Tide is a whole different question. And that gets into a discussion about whether you are in the product’s target market, the strength of Tide’s brand, etc.

The bottom line is that without your laundry pain, your perceptions about the Tide product, and your story about Tide's perceived value to you, why would you care whether the laundry detergent you purchased was Tide, Gain, All, or Arm & Hammer, or some other brand?

You wouldn't.

The very fact you have perceptions, story, and perceived value about anything, such as a product or service within a given context, is evidence of brand.

Does it mean that you fully understand or see the entirety of the brand? Not necessarily. You could simply have a sense of the product's brand. The key is that you have enough information to render an opinion about a particular brand.

Now if we bring that same thinking to you and your personal brand, these same factors and process apply.

As we engage people in our professional life, we have perceptions of them. These perceptions help us assess, in many cases unconsciously, the value that a particular person provides. Those perceptions operate whether we are aware of them or not.

So if perceptions are the underpinning of personal brand, then you might ask:

  • Which perceptions matter?

  • And, how do I prioritize these perceptions into a cohesive, authentic, and aligned story?

Stay tuned as I build upon these blog posts by laying out additional context on how I view personal brand.

What are your thoughts? I welcome your suggestions, feedback, and questions in the comments.

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Chris Haase is Principal of Clarity Silicon Valley, which is a personal brand coaching firm that crafts executive and professional identities.

Clarity Silicon Valley offers an Executive Identity Program and workshops aimed at executives and high-potential professionals who seek to accelerate their career by discovering, understanding, and owning their personal brand through telling their authentic professional story.

Chris is available for personal brand strategy and development engagements with individuals and companies, as well as writing and speaking opportunities.

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