Introduction 1: Definition of Personal Brand and Personal Branding

There is a lot of discussion about Personal Branding and Personal Brands right now, and more and more persons are self-proclaimed personal brand experts. I used to be one of these persons as well, when I started working with personal brands. Now I have developed a method for working with it and have been recognized internationally for my efforts, so I have a lot of thoughts and insights about personal brands that I would like to share with you here.

First off, there is a different between the terms Personal Brand and Employee Brand. Also a Personal Brand is a substantive, while Personal Branding is a verb, so there is a different there as well. Common for all of these is that it is about getting to know yourself better, building on your strengths and being true to yourself. It is about being you, being genuine and not about turning yourself into something you are not.
These are my definitions/thoughts:
Personal Brand
Your Personal Brand is divided into two parts, your Personal Brand Image and your Personal Brand Identity, where the Personal Brand Image is how your peers perceive you and your identity, personality, values, skills, and abilities. Everyone has this part of the Personal Brand, without it no one would even know that you exists, and hence not be able to evaluate you as a good or bad friend, co-worker etc.
The other part has always been around as well, either consciously or unconsciously. Your Personal Brand Identity is who you really are (identity, personality, values, skills, and abilities) and that you want to communicate to others. Different persons in your surrounding will have different associations with your brand, and this is a good thing since everyone has a different set of expectations and relations to you. An example is that you might want your life partner to have very strong associations with you being romantic and sexy, while you rather want your business partners to see you as a hard-working and trustworthy.
My work on personal brands is focused on your personal development, with you getting to know yourself better and communicating your core values to your surroundings.
Employee Brand or Career Brand
These expressions are used to describe your Professional Personal Brand, and should not be confused with CV-boosting, exaggerating your abilities or claiming to be someone that you are not. Most persons talking about personal brands and personal branding is actually talking about this, and I believe that this is a very shallow approach which has made a lot of persons skeptical to “Personal Brand / Personal Branding”.
Personal Branding
Personal Branding is about being in control over the two parts of the Personal Brand so that your Brand Image is consistent with you Brand Identity. Personal Branding describes the process by which individuals differentiate themselves and stand out from a crowd by identifying and articulating their unique value proposition, whether professional or personal, and then communicating it across platforms and situations in a consistent way. This is a lot about psychology and marketing, in what way should you communicate to be seen as a great mom or a trustworthy business partner? You have different roles that require different communication in different situations. Sounds complicated, but if you have identified your core values and articulated what you stand for, most will come naturally and the rest is practice.
Social Media Marketing
To add a profile to Facebook, twitter, Hi5, LinkedIn, XING or whatever social networking site you are using, is not personal branding. These are tools used to communicate with a broad audience in a quite impersonal manner (only 7 % of human communication is words, so you miss 93 % of the tools in comparison to meeting someone). I do not say that you shouldn´t use these tools to market yourself, but it is rather marketing of you than building your brand. (if you do not know the difference, google “marketing versus branding” for some great posts about the two).
Next post will be some more about your Personal Brand Image and your Personal Brand Identity.
Live your brand!
– Ola Rynge
The Rynge Group

3 Comments on “Introduction 1: Definition of Personal Brand and Personal Branding”

  1. This post is great! Most people don’t make the distinction between brand and branding efforts you do (including – often – me), but they are very important to understand.

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