You, Inc.: Developing Your Personal Brand

We place great emphasis on “developing a personal brand” at our WOMEN Unlimited, Inc. programs. Why? Because, despite the critical importance of personal brands, women are often reluctant to look at themselves that way.  As we’ve seen from research, women tend to shy away from what they view as self-promotion or “tooting their own horn”. Too often, they rely on others thrusting them into the limelight, rather than doing it themselves.

Big mistake. The 21st Century is all about brands and that includes personal ones. I like what Wikipedia has to say in its definition of Personal Branding:  “While previous self help management techniques were about self-improvement, the personal branding concept suggests instead that success comes from self-packaging”.

When we talk about developing a personal brand, we are not asking a woman to be untrue to herself or her core values. We are asking her to take control of her own corporate destiny instead of relinquishing it to others. Developing a personal brand is not schlock advertising. It’s simply pulling together all your best assets and then letting the world know they shouldn’t be ignoring what you have to offer.  It’s like making sure consumers hear about a fabulous product that can solve a big problem for them. Why wouldn’t you let folks know about it? Why would you deprive them of the benefits?  Why would women with so much to contribute to their organizations, not get the word out?  Same thing.

5 Tips Every Corporate Woman Should Know About Personal Branding

  1. First and foremost, developing a personal brand starts with identifying the qualities and characteristics that make you stand out from the corporate crowd—in a good way.  It is “the you” who will make you invaluable to your organization. It’s “the you” who will help your company service its clients and customers more dynamically. Be honest, but don’t be modest as you chronicle your assets.
  1. Your brand is about benefits—not features.  For example: as you pull together your unique qualifications, DON’T say “personable.”  Instead, say something like “My personality allows me to work with people of diverse backgrounds so together we achieve—and surpass—organizational goals.
  1. Your personal brand is not just a list; it is a plan and a strategy. It is the persona that defines everything you do corporately: from meetings to problem solving to salary negotiations. It is the walking, talking proof of your worth to the organization. Make sure you totally believe in your personal brand and its value and then sell it.
  1. Try your brand out in a safe way on people inside and outside the corporation whose judgment you trust. Ask them questions like “How would you describe me?” “What are my key attributes and how do they contribute to organizational success?”  Elicit their feedback and adjust your brand accordingly.
  1. Revisiting and revamping your brand is an ongoing process.  As you acquire more expertise, rack up more accomplishments, and forge new successes, your brand must reflect the “new, improved” you.  Since your brand IS you, it needs to change WITH you.

Tom Peters, who many view as the “Father of Personal Brands” summarizes the importance of developing a brand this way:

“You are a brand. You are in charge of your brand. There is no single path to success. And there is no one right way to create the brand called You.  Except this: Start today.”

What advice or questions do you have on developing a personal brand? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Rosina Racioppi                                                                                 President & CEO                                                                               WOMEN Unlimited, Inc.