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If You Don’t Have A Personal Brand…

December 17th, 2008

This last year I’ve enjoyed speaking about 60 times (when I wrote my book I had no intention of becoming a speaker, but I love it).  Frequently I ask the audience “who here has a personal brand.”

About 3 people raise their hands (no matter how big the audience is).

So what about the others?  They don’t have a personal brand?  I would argue they do have a personal brand… perhaps it’s that they are really good (or bad) at what they do, that they are a wall-flower (just there, not really contributing too much or too little), that they are on time or late, etc.

Everyone has some kind of branding, and I bet people will be able to sum you up in a few words… like “John is a really nice guy,” or “John is the best _____,” or something like that.

But let’s say you are nothing more than a name on a resume?  As a hiring manager I’m going to pull whatever information I have access to and try and figure out what you are bringing to the table.

In Washington I was speaking at a college and said that if you haven’t defined or developed your brand, you’d likely be stereotyped along with all of the other Gen Y applicants.  Want your brand to be defined by stereotypes (if so, you’ll be like that (fake) cow in the picture, getting a brand applied to you)?

Me neither.

Get working on your personal brand!

14 Comments »

14 responses to “If You Don’t Have A Personal Brand…”

  1. Russ says:

    So what if you’re changing your brand? :-)

  2. Jason Alba says:

    @Russ – ah, a trick question! I consider you a branding expert, a wordsmith, a marketing a PR thought leader… I’m guessing you already know the answer to this… what would YOU do to change your brand?

  3. Good post. I admit the title got my attention and I thought, shoot another personal brand’ing’ post telling people they need a brand.

    I was glad and reminded that Jason gets it. Everyone has a brand. You know why? Your brand values are defined by others. Knowing what you stand for is one thing, brand promise vs. delivery is another as is marketing and the connection defines trust.

  4. I do cringe at the word “brand”, even though I recognize the value of the underlying idea. I like to think of it as creating a clear mental picture of who and what you want to be known as, identifying the means to communicate this concept, and implementing the plan. “Branding” is just an ugly shortcut to express the idea…

  5. Personal branding is essential, I know. Although I have one (author, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Perfect Resume), it’s sometimes hard for me to promote my brand. I’m an introvert and it feels like a lot of work to get myself out there. LinkedIn, Twitter, my blog, etc. help a lot. By putting my brand up visually and verbally on the Internet, I don’t have to travel the world to stand on a soap box.

    Thanks for the post, Jason. And thanks for telling us the cow is fake!

  6. Thom Allen says:

    @JasonAlba and @Russ I’m interested in knowing the answer too :)

  7. Russ says:

    @JasonAlba
    @Thom Allen

    Here’s my gut feeling on this.

    Treat it like a relationship. You know, the kind you had as a teenager or college student where you broke up with someone but needed to move on. Move on. Get over the old brand, and move on. Do everything possible to re-brand yourself in this “new brand.”

  8. Isn’t it a simple matter of doing as much work as possible that is related to your brand? Perfect example of a brand changer: Penelope Trunk. She went from being known for writing about sex to being known for writing about careers (and occasionally writing about sex and careers). Anyway, establishing a brand may be hard, but I’d bet changing it is even more difficult.

  9. […] my first new post on this blog to be full of wisdom and good advice. But, for today, my good friend Jason Alba stole my thunder. His post for today was entitled If you don’t have a personal brand, and you need to read […]

  10. Mike Murray says:

    Jason & Russ…

    Had to weigh in on this one – changing one’s brand isn’t quite that simple and depends on a lot of factors. First, is it an brand extension or a brand replacement?

    For example, say you’re Jason, whose brand (for the sake of this example) is as a career expert. If he wants to be known as a “Career and Branding Expert”, that’s a far different change than if he wants to be known as “the Penultimate Fantasy Football Scholar”.

    In the first case, it’s about changing his message somewhat – in the second, it’s an entirely different world.

    Okay. I could write for hours on this one, but I won’t right now, partially because there’s work to be done, and partially because I’d have nothing left to blog about. 😉

    -Mike

  11. thom singer says:

    Jason, This is one of your most powerful posts. The importance of realizing you need to have a personal brand is lost on so many people. Your point about not having a brand means you will get lumped together with everyone else is spot on.

    We are all being watched no matter what we do, and that becomes our brand. Your MySpace, or Facebook photos sing volumes to the world…so dont just think the beer bong pic is funny.

    Networking is very important in this area. While people can judge your brand from a distance, when they know you personally, you can really show them your inner self. Do not be scared to make lots of contacts with a variety of people…as some might become your evangelists and tell others about your greatness.

    You, my friend, are an expert at all of this. I hope folks are listening to you!

  12. Udi Drezner says:

    Excellent post Jason.
    I too, support the notion of branding one’s name. Especially in this day and age, where human resources managers and hiring companies constantly seek out information about their applicants online. I have a multiple online profiles and use a site called LookupPage (www.lookuppage.com) that aims at representing you professionally online and making sure you are found every time someone searches your name. You can check it out if you like.

  13. Scot Herrick says:

    Interestingly, people have a hard time figuring out what is their personal brand. Often, it is necessary to talk with trusted coworkers or managers and ask what the unique skills and performance you bring to a team to understand your brand. Only then can you build on that and promote (or change) your brand.

    But you already have one. No doubt. You are preceded by your reputation — we just call it your personal brand.

  14. Mike Smith says:

    Networking is about giving and helping others. But it still amazes me that those who ask for and get help; miss a very important part of networking. “Saying thank you!”

    If we’re trying to build relationships, doesn’t it make sense that we want relationships built on respect and some appreciation? The response to a hand written thank you note will amaze you. (Yes, snail mail still works and can make a big impact in today’s technology blare.)