By Joel Burgess

According to clinical psychologist Judith Sills, Ph.D., thinking of yourself as a “Coke” or a “Wheaties” helps you take control of your future in a rapidly shifting marketplace. The idea of developing a personal brand addresses what she calls a hard professional reality. The reality is that for a successful long-term career, a person must look within to take care of themselves rather than rely on a company to take care of them.

What is a personal brand? Crafting a personal brand is about reputation and it is the professional identity you create in the minds of others.

What does it mean to brand ourselves? By branding ourselves we become distinctive and desirable to managers, clients, and/or potential employers. Personal brands may mean something different to different individuals. However, the idea essentially boils down to:

  1. Emphasizing the importance of establishing niche expertise through visibility and recognition.
  2. Sending clear signals regarding key attributes such as consistency, reliability, creativity, etc.

Why is branding ourselves important? An effective personal brand not only allows a person to successfully fill a job role, but more importantly, allows one to identify with the bigger company picture and goals. In addition, developing this brand facilitates personal marketability, an advantage in a rapidly shifting business environment.

How can an effective brand be developed?
Dr. Sills offers a few insights:

  1. Participate in visible events – such as speaking engagements.
  2. Make yourself known – do your homework and share what you know.
  3. Be consistent – understand what you are delivering and deliver it again and again.
  4. Update your resume annually – a current resume helps you remember your accomplishments from the previous year and allows you to focus attention more closely on the brand you are building while giving you a clearer sense of your larger goals.

What are some cautions in developing a brand?

  1. Avoid making your niche of expertise too narrow – also known as the pigeon-hole effect.
  2. Avoid appearing egotistical when making yourself known – learn when to admit that you don’t know something.
  3. Make sure the shoe fits – do not brand yourself as something you are not.

Source: January/February 2008 Psychology Today
Author: Judith Sills, Ph.D