Current Progressive Dairy digital edition

Building and maintaining your personal brand

Michele Fite Published on 24 November 2015

We can all identify examples of great brands, like Disney, Nike and Apple. Each offers unparalleled customer experiences, of course, but there’s something else at play.

Their success also stems from the clear articulation of their brand: who they are, what they offer and careful attention to how they’d like to be perceived by others.



Great branding applies not just to companies but to individuals, as well. You may think the idea of personal branding is unnecessary or pertains only to celebrities, politicians or CEOs. But think of it this way: If you don’t brand yourself, others will brand you. You need to manage your own reputation. founder Jeff Bezos succinctly captured what a personal brand is when he said, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”

Building a personal brand helps you create a vision for your future. If you are looking to grow the sales for your company or looking to grow your customer or client base, you want others to associate your brand with a feeling of trust and longer-term success and satisfaction.

If you are looking for a better job, you want your potential boss at your ideal company to associate your personal brand with something he or she needs on their team.

Authenticity is key

Personal branding is not an act. Many branding experts will tell you how to shape and craft your personal image to the point where it’s closer to a fake persona than reality. Think about politicians who are melded and molded until they are exactly what they believe their constituents want them to be.


This approach may work on the campaign trail – but not as a sustainable career strategy and certainly not for anyone who actually wants to be happy at what they do. “Fake it till you make it” is not something you want to project when you are talking about your brand.

How can you project yourself in a way that allows your true authentic self to show through? Look at your strengths. Where do you shine? What do you like? What value do you bring to a team, your colleagues and your organization?

Be the CEO of you

There’s a phrase that will help shape your personal brand: You are the CEO of you. Think about what a good CEO does. He or she defines the vision for the company and creates the path to drive the organization to achieve that vision. They work to align the organization to deliver that singular focus and eliminate extraneous, non-value-add elements.

Being the CEO of you enhances your self-awareness and self-understanding of what makes you unique. It helps clarify your goals and creates differentiation from anyone else, for your business, the clients you have, the projects you work on and how you want to deliver your services.

The personal branding process

The process for creating your personal brand revolves around three pivotal steps.

Step 1: Define your emotional benefit


Multi-billion-dollar companies are able to distill their brands into simple statements. Disney is “fun family entertainment,” while Starbucks is “inspire and nurture the human spirit one cup at a time.” What’s the simple and relevant statement that defines the benefit you offer?

Think about your emotional appeal and how it makes others feel. Be aware of the differences between rational and emotional benefits. Rational can be quality, reliability and smart. Emotional benefits deliver a strong connection to others, including happiness, safety, hopeful.

Think about the words that best describe the features of your personality. Ask colleagues and peers for their opinion as well. As you gather this information, assess what resonates with you and the brand you want to convey.

Step 2: Define your description

What are your top three to four personal attributes that define how you make things happen? They can include more rational descriptions, such as flexible, forward-thinking, risk-taking.

In the case of Starbucks, it’s “one cup at a time.” The consumer takes away a sense of personal service at each stop at Starbucks. To help you determine your best attributes, ask yourself what words you would use to describe your work.

Step 3: Define your job

For this step, think about exactly what you do or will do. It might be something directly related to your career – writing, graphic design or perhaps financial planning.

You may find that you would prefer to go broader – a creator, an organizer, a problem-solver. Think about how you introduce yourself to others when talking about what you do. Remember to stay authentic to who you are.

Based on your emotional benefit, your description and your job, you can set the course to establishing your personal brand. Ideally, it should be a short statement, a few words in length. Consider what makes you unique from others.

As with any business strategy or brand statement, your personal brand should be evaluated and evolve over time. As the CEO of you, consider enlisting a “board of directors” whose opinions you value – peers, colleagues, perhaps a mentor.

Not only can they candidly assess if you live the brand statement you created, they can provide feedback along the way and help you course correct as your personal brand evolves.

Showcasing your personal brand

Once you’ve defined your brand, you must market it. Showcase your brand in every business interaction. Do you walk, talk and act like the brand you defined, the one you want everyone to talk about when you are not in the room?

Does your LinkedIn profile reflect your brand, or perhaps even your email signature? Do you think about your personal brand before an important internal meeting or when attending an industry conference? You want all the ways that people interact with you to become opportunities to reflect your personal brand.

Creating a personal brand should not be a chore or an inconvenience. It takes time, but the investment is well worth it. Remember that nobody knows you better than you. So why would you trust anyone else to create or define your brand?  PD

Michele Fite
  • Michele Fite

  • Business Leader – Health
  • DuPont Nutrition and Health