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Personal Brand vs. Personal Branding

Updated: Aug 5, 2021

In my observation, people love the idea of 'personal branding'.

Lots of people talk about personal branding. And, it's easy to see why. At a high level, personal branding is the work of reinforcing your brand by increasing your visibility through writing, speaking, and engaging your network.

There are many books that talk about personal branding and many services that are anxious to have you engage with them to 'do' your personal branding.

And that's all good for those that want that.

For me there's a more fundamental and important question that needs to be addressed prior to diving into personal branding:

What is a personal brand?

I asked this question to one executive and their response was simply: Me

That response prompted several more questions as I sought to understand their perspective. The bottom line was this executive wanted to be seen as unique and they viewed the answer of 'me' as an easy, albeit vague, way to express this need.

And I get it. This particular executive's perspective was not surprising and I've heard it before. In the professional sphere, we all desire to understand our own specific magic and our own secret sauce that showcases our value.

That executive, as well as you reading this, are unique and have value. We tend to have a sense of our own uniqueness and value, however, we typically spend precious little time studying that which makes us unique and have value. For many, the sense of their uniqueness and value remains just that: a 'sense'.

The Challenge

We seem to struggle in objectively observing ourselves, our story, and our value. We often live life pressed up against the glass of experiencing in both our companies and in our roles. Our 'to do list' never ends.

In addition, it can be difficult to determine with precise clarity what parts of our story matter and what parts do not.

The pace of our professional lives rarely invites time to step back and reflect. We dash from one meeting to another. One role to another. One company to the next. The drive for productivity, while admirable, can in many ways impede the benefit of taking the necessary time to see your value with a deeper precision and clarity.

The Invitation

But like all challenges, there are also opportunities. In this case, there is an invitation to inquire into the truth of your personal brand so that you move from simply having a 'sense' of your personal brand into a clear and unequivocal knowing of your personal brand.

The choice to step back and reflect becomes a hallmark of a determined and savvy individual who desires driving deeper alignment in their professional work and their broader career aspirations.

Begin with understanding your personal brand to establish the foundation of your professional or executive story. Like any house or building, clarity of brand becomes the foundation by which you build and evolve a strong professional story.

In determining your personal brand, you are then effectively set up to take the next step and do the necessary personal branding work.

Bottom line

Know what your personal brand is first. Then you can do the branding required to support it.

To properly answer the question 'What is a personal brand?' I'd like to invite you to join me in participating in an ongoing inquiry of regular blog posts where I will lay out what I have discovered about personal brand through my research, engagements, and dialogues.

I welcome your questions, comments, and ideas as these posts unfold.

If you enjoyed this article, give it a 'heart' ❤️, leave a comment, and share with your network.

Be sure to 'Follow' me on LinkedIn and on Medium to keep up to date as additional posts are shared.

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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