The Art of You, and Your Personal Brand

From Microsoft to Apple, and many non-technology companies in between, I’ve spent my career creating or re-shaping brands and developing positioning strategies. Much has been written about business brand development, but less about building sustainable personal brands and defining how you are positioned. Why? Because effective personal brand development is a highly nuanced activity, and hard to adhere to without strong internal resources, clear and balanced ambition, and sustained personal commitment.

It’s one thing to say, here’s a hot company or product – and I need to devote significant company resources to forming and shepherding a brand that builds share value. It’s another thing to proclaim, I am the brand – and I need to spend the rest of my life making sure my brand reflects who I am, what I do, and how well I do it. Quite simply, meaningful personal branding is an ongoing life activity that requires degrees of introspection, regular self-examination, and plain old hard work that’s demanding for anyone.

But, your personal brand happens whether you shape it or not. If you are out in the world at all, you are known for the qualities you project and the qualities external audiences believe are true of you. Your choice is simple: Own your brand, or let external audiences own it for you.

So, treat your brand like you would any other brand. See yourself as the asset you must nourish, the true legacy you must protect. Your personal brand is your current and future value.

Like any other brand management initiative, a well-managed personal brand follows a strategy process that completes a brand framework like the following:

1. Brand Attributes: Your brand attributes are the qualities that embody your personal brand, and should always be associated with it. To get there, distill down your core professional and personal values and the values of the key audiences you interact with, and in this intersection you’ll find your most important brand attributes.

2. Brand Promise: In its most fundamental form, your personal brand promise is what you guarantee your key audiences (think employers, clients, customers, community) will experience because of their relationship with you. So, as with any other commitment, promise only what you will deliver.

3. Brand Positioning: Your personal brand positioning statement will (1) define your key audiences – the most important audiences you interact with, are influencing, or trying to influence); (2) pinpoint what they care most about; and (3) synthesize the value your brand delivers to them.

4. Brand Driver: Your brand driver is the outcome your personal brand is dedicated to seeing achieved with the audiences you interact with. It is the essential idea the captures and integrates all brand actions.

5. Brand Personality: Your brand personality is comprised of the human elements connected to your personal brand, and are the characteristics that inspire (or not) specific feelings in your key audiences.

Personal brand management always pays off, although the process and associated actions are not always the most tangible or quantifiable. However, personal branding is a critical investment in yourself and it’s an investment that will stay with you for life.

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About the Author

Marketing Strategist, Brand Catalyst, Content Curator & People Leader.

A tenured marketing executive, Shivonne Byrne drives high-profile business initiatives and builds trusted brands for organizations, products-services, and people. Shivonne is currently a WW Marketing Director at Microsoft, and Editor-in-Chief, Microsoft CEO Summit.