What Exactly is a Personal Brand?

One of the first things people ask me, besides “why would I want to change careers,” when they find out I’m an attorney turned personal branding strategist is “what does that mean?”  After numerous attempts at trying to explain what personal branding strategy is, I soon realized what they should have asked me was “what is a personal brand?”

This is the heart of the matter and really isn’t all that surprising as I didn’t know what a personal brand was until 3 or 4 years ago when I decided I needed to pursue another career.  At the time, I didn’t know what I wanted to do but I knew it wasn’t going to be easy to “reinvent” myself.  So, I set about figuring out all I could about alternative careers, networking, and what I needed to do to make my seasoned skills into transferable skills for my new chosen profession.  Little did I know that this was the first step on a journey that would land me right into my new career as a personal brand strategist.

“Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room.”  Jeff Bezos, Founder & CEO, Amazon.com

Your personal brand, to put it simply, is your unique value of promise.  It is what you deliver consistently, over time, and in all you do.  Everyone has a personal brand.  It’s a 360° view of you.  It contains your values and passions, your vision for the world and mission in present time.  It’s the way you feel, act, portray, and speak.  It is you both personally and professionally.  It can be the catalyst for your future success, or the demise.  If taken seriously, and good personal branding is part of your conscious efforts, it can help you achieve goals – whatever they are.

Not long ago we viewed our professional life separate from our personal life.  How we acted at work wasn’t necessarily how we were at home.  Our hobbies were largely unknown to our work peers unless we struck up a friendship and socialized with them.  That all changed with the advent of internet and social media sites.  Acquaintances are now linked with us as Facebook friends, or Twitter followers.  Our neighbors are linked with us through LinkedIn and they now know our exact job, work history and skillset if they choose to take a peek.  Unless we have completely privatized everything about us, join only one or two social/professional media sites, and have only family following us, (all of which, incidentally, isn’t always good) we are “out” there for people to see both professionally and personally. The intermingling of our public and private lives is a fact. It also means that a lot of people have an opinion of us whether we like it or not.

“You too are a brand. Whether you know it or not. Whether you like it or not.”  Marc Eckō, Founder and CEO, Marc Eckō Enterprises

Today our reputation, our likeness, our sheer creativity can be seen and graded by people we have never met or who we hope to meet. We can be compared against others like us – our peers and our competitors – no matter where they are located.  Physical boundaries are no longer limitations.

All this, taken together, means that we must be vigilant in how we are viewed.  It also means we can emphasize our strengths, once we know them, and help propel our work to the next level easily and verifiably. We have the ability to share our knowledge and expertise on a subject without having to rely on the vagaries of the traditional methods of submission and acceptance or knowing the right people at the right time. We have unlimited outlets to showcase our creativity, thought leadership, cutting edge ideas.  The questions is – are you doing all you can, in the right way, by appropriate methods, to emphasize your unique promise of value?

Your personal brand is who you are and it is how people see you.  Managing your personal brand is imperative for today’s professionals if they want to propel their career or business to the next level.  Good active personal branding is the difference between the As and Bs in school.  Take a look around you and notice – all the most successful people you know exude a strong personal brand.

“One common and specific trait among our favorite billionaires and their abounding successes is their ability to create an exceptional personal brand.”   Larry Kim, Founder and CTO, Wordstream

The question you have to ask (and one of the questions personal branding strategists help you find out) is how do others see you?   Or, in other words, what is your personal brand? The answer may surprise you.


Kristine Pierce is an experienced attorney turned certified personal branding strategist and certified social branding analyst.  With a decade in government regulatory law, including as the Governor’s appointed State Extradition Coordinator and the Minnesota Commissioner of Public Safety’s Chief Legal Counsel, she has also been a speaker, author and instructor.  She’s passionate about sharing her vision that people should do what they love, never give up on their big dreams and never fear change.  Rebranding is possible if it’s done well.  As Founder of KHPierce Consulting, she focuses her expertise on helping professionals, solo business owners, and people in transition achieve their goals by finding methods and strategies to showcase their uniqueness.  You can find her on Twitter @kristine_pierce; Instagram @kristine.pierce; LinkedIn www.linkedin.com/in/kristinepierce and at http://www.khpierce.com

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