When I launched my business in Personal Branding for the CXO community, it drew a variety of responses:
1. “That’s very interesting...”
2. “Is it PR?”
3. “Personal Branding? Wow, that’s very unique.”
4. “Is it the same as Image Management?”
5. “Oh! So what exactly is it?”
6. “Definitely needed!”
7. “Do I really need it?”
8. “My boss needs it. Can you help?”
Questions 2, 4 & 5 jumped out as ‘Important’ & Urgent’, so I’ll start with those.
“Is it PR?”
Personal Branding is definitely not PR. The primary function of PR (Public Relations) is to create a favorable impression among the public, about a company and its products or services, by managing what goes into third-party media. Personal Branding is about helping an individual to evolve into a distinct personal brand through a strategic set of actions. Depending on the goal, PR may or may not be leveraged to augment the Personal Branding effort.
“Is it the same as Image Management?”
No, Personal Branding is not the same as Image Management. Image Management is about “keeping up and managing outwardly appearances”. It would involve – creating impressions, including a strong first impression, where you are seen, how you are dressed, what company and gadgets you keep, your style statement and so on. A Personal Branding strategist may recommend some actions related to Image Management as part of a comprehensive Personal Branding strategy. But it is not compulsory.
Personal Branding is also not...
Personal Branding is also not about making false claims, self-promotion or hyper visibility on social media (hyper tweeple, please take note).
“So what exactly is it?”
Here’s my definition - Personal Branding is the creation of a distinct identity for an individual through the process of discovering, demonstrating and articulating the individual’s unique value-offering.
Discovering – Which means you already have the attributes and therefore Personal Branding does not involve fake claims.
Demonstrating – It is not enough to have unique talents and capabilities. It is important to consistently demonstrate and deliver. So, you first walk the talk.
Articulating – Then you talk the walk. Only when you ‘Do’, ‘Demonstrate’ and ‘Deliver’ will you have the edge to communicate, share and discuss.
Unique – If your attributes, contribution etc., are not unique to you, then you cannot be a brand. Differentiation is key.
Value-offering – Simply having something unique about you, like wearing a pocket watch, does not make you a brand. Whatever is distinct should also be recognized for delivering true value. No value, no brand. A distinct ‘image’ at best.
“My Boss needs it. Can you help?”
I didn’t quite expect to hear this as often as I did. It seemed amusing initially. But I soon gathered that in this question lies a compelling case for Personal Branding (for leaders).
Be back soon to discuss the “Why” of Personal Branding.
In the meanwhile, what’s your question for Personal Branding?