You (like Coca-Cola) have a brand

Frustrated about your inability to get traction in the job market? Feeling unclear on what makes you uniquely valuable? 

Whether you are currently employed or between jobs, being able to define and articulate your personal brand is the edge that allows you to distinguish yourself from the pack. 

Tom Peters, business author and speaker, first began the conversation about personal brand in 1997:

You’re every bit as much a brand as Nike, Coke, Pepsi, or the Body Shop. To start thinking like your own favorite brand manager, ask yourself the same question the brand managers at Nike, Coke, or Pepsi ask themselves: what is it that my product or service does that makes it different? Forget your job title. Ask yourself: What do I do that adds remarkable, measurable, distinguished, distinctive value?
— The Brand Called You, Fast Company, 1997

So what is a personal brand, really? It’s pretty simple: it’s a message that conveys who you are, what you’re good at, and what you’re excited about. Essentially, to your audience, it’s a promise about who you are and what you can do. A well-crafted personal brand should allow you to define the value you offer to people you’re trying to influence—to your work colleagues, your online audience, your prospective employers. 

So how do you define your brand? 

Start with these 3 questions: 

  1. What are three words you would use to describe yourself?
  2. What are three words others would use to describe you?
  3. What do you want to be known for— what do you want your life’s contribution to be

Then go a bit deeper. Try to identify:

  • Values: Your values are your guiding principles—they define what is important to you. Sidenote: When work and values are not aligned, it leads to lack of fulfillment on the job, which isn’t good.
  • Strengths: Think about your strengths as a combo of your best talents and areas of expertise. What are you known as the go-to person for? And please remember to include in your brand only your energizing skills—those that you want to use going forward. Don’t message about your insane ability with numbers unless you want to use that skill in future work!
  • Passions: To understand these, think about what kinds of tasks, jobs, or things you love to do. Think about what exactly you’re engaged in doing when you lose track of time or feel “in flow.” Think about the moments in which you’ve felt the happiest and most accomplished (at work or at play). 

Write down those values, strengths, and passions, then refine the list so it reflects the top qualities—then craft away! There are no real rules around how the short or long personal brand statements should be—let its length and depth be determined by the circumstance in which you’re delivering it.

Here’s a sample brand statement of a recent client—a doctor-turned-business guy: 

I am a visionary physician entrepreneur who is passionate about innovating in health care, building best-of-class products and technologies and exceeding customers’ expectations. I excel at translating complex healthcare/medical concepts into easy to digest language for clients, and I love finding solutions to challenging problems through applying a strategic mindset, technical know-how and a never-say-die attitude.

Once your personal brand is defined, what do you do with it? 

Your brand is something that travels with you everywhere—it’s your personal marketing message. 

  • Let it shine in your LinkedIn profile—as the foundation of your Summary section
  • Include it in your resume—at the top, in the Professional Summary section
  • Write about it in your cover letter—to explain why you’d be a great fit for the position 
  • Highlight it out in your Twitter or blog bios
  • Showcase it at informational or actual job interviews, networking events, or anywhere you’re communicating who you are and what your unique value is 

Remember, what ultimately matters most is that your brand communicate who you are, what you care about and what you uniquely bring to the game. 

Need help constructing your personal brand?