What It Means to Be a Personal Brand

December 13, 2013

personal brand

The notion of personal branding is not a new one, but I think it’s getting more and more important as we continue to evolve as a society.  As the world gets increasingly more intense and competitive, we each have to become more finely tuned to what we want to get out of life. We need to treat life as if we were a brand.I’m not talking about the Kim Kardashian style of personal branding, not at all.  This isn’t about being famous necessarily unless of course that is your goal.

What Exactly Is a Personal Brand?

Personal branding is about knowing who you are, what you want to accomplish, and designing a plan to get it.  Personal branding is simply a way of thinking about your life that will hopefully bring you personal and professional success, in a crowded world that is relentlessly demanding.

Ironically, when you look at it from a marketing perspective, this is no different from launching and marketing a big brand like Tide, Starbucks, or Levi’s. Each of those brands started out with a name and a sense of purpose many years ago.  Each brand began a journey to connect with people, hoping to add value to their lives.  These brands constantly evolve over time to be more and more relevant and in fact have had staying power as a result.  Just like each of us has each decided on a purpose in life, and have connected with people over the course of our own journey.

The choices we all make as people are similar to the choices brands make when marketing their products. We choose our path of education, our line of work, a partner, a circle of friends, in some cases having children, and many strategic career decisions along the way. The stakes are more personal and arguably higher than with a “commercial” brand, but the process is nearly the same whether we are talking about growing a business or advancing our “brand” through the stages of our lives.

As we market ourselves for new careers or take ourselves in new directions personally, we need to think as a brand and stay true to our goals and ourselves.

A personal brand, like any successful brand, needs to be consciously managed and controlled through time. Choosing where to go to college, for example, is a huge decision that affects a lifetime of experiences.  Picking a partner is even more influential toward a path of happiness. Deciding whether to leave a current job and pursue a new opportunity should be evaluated from a branding perspective to make sure we’re making the right decision. The “right” decision is one that is both consistent with our brand and on track with the goals we have set for ourselves.

Brand managers follow a very rigorous process to create a marketing plan, and they update it every year. This can be easily applied to our personal brand to create a roadmap for setting goals, working through milestones, and ultimately building a reputation that serves us well both personally and professionally. Becoming a personal brand and treating your life in that manner will help you achieve the goals you have set.  Just make sure to love your brand every step along the way.

Love Your Brand!

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About The Author

Entrepreneur of the Year, Agency of the Year, Most Creative Agency, Thought Leadership Certificate of Excellence, Social Media Icon – these are not accolades that Jim Joseph takes lightly or too seriously either. They inspire him everyday to continue to excel and to learn. Jim Joseph is the kind of guy that actually watches the television commercials rather than skipping through them. He scans the magazine ads before ever reading the columns, hard copy and online. Don't be surprised to find him in his office, legs propped up, flipping through Twitter on his iPad. As the President of Cohn & Wolfe North America, Jim brings over twenty-five years of consumer marketing leadership, bold management prowess, and a fine head of hair to the agency. If running this gig wasn't big enough, he's also a three-time author, blogger, professor at New York University, and regular contributor to Entrepreneur and Huffington Post. To top it off, he's on the Board of Directors for the number one branding school in the country, The Brand Center at VCU, as well as The Council of PR Firms and DTC Perspectives. With the strength of a power-lifting honey badger and the intelligence of, well, an NYU professor, Jim's boldest move was transforming what was a struggling pharmaceutical advertising agency into an integrated marketing powerhouse, Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness. By moving from "sickness" to "wellness", and from silo'd to holistic, Jim engineered a makeover that included new capabilities in CRM, promotion, and digital, as well as a new mix of clients beyond pharma into diverse areas of wellness. Fulfilling a lifelong dream, Jim published his first marketing book in 2010 called The Experience Effect, which showed how building a powerful brand experience creates shareable consumer loyalty. As Jim says, "without a great brand experience, you're just another product." The book garnered much critical acclaim, winning a Silver Medal for Best Marketing Book from Axiom. We'd bet his mother has a copy bolted to the refrigerator. Sequels take a look at applying that big brand theory to small business with The Experience Effect for Small Business and now personal branding with The Personal Experience Effect. His daily blog and continuing contributions to Entrepreneur and Huffington Post remind us that, "marketing is a spectator sport," as he touches on big brand experiences as well as advice for anyone in marketing, even if you are just marketing yourself!


  1. avatar

    Aw, this was a very nice post. Spending some time and actual effort to create a top
    notch article… but what can I say… I procrastinate
    a whole lot and don’t manage to get anything

  2. avatar

    […] Becoming a personal brand and treating your life in that manner will help you achieve the goals you have set. Just make sure to love your brand as well.  […]

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