What Exactly Is Personal Branding?

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Brands. They’re everywhere, millions of them, and in a way they always have been, going all the way back to the ancient Egyptians, who marked their livestock with recognizable symbols.

By contrast, personal branding is a relatively new concept, first introduced by Tom Peters in a 1997 article for Fast Company magazine. It has quickly grown into a multi-billion-dollar industry relied on by everyone from athletes and politicians to job seekers of every stripe.

Here are some useful tips when thinking about your personal brand.

1. Story

Everyone has a story to tell; the hard part is deciding what it is. Who are you? Where are you from? What experiences shaped you? Personal brands are built on this foundation.

Stories about beating the odds and overcoming obstacles won’t guarantee you land that dream job or promotion. But they can help—particularly if they’re told in an honest, authentic way.

Still, companies don’t just want to hear your personal story. They want to hear your professional story: the things you’ve learned, the skills you’ve developed, the managers and mentors who guided you. More importantly, they want to know how your story can help their brand.

Which brings us to our next item.

“Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.” – Seth Godin, Branding Expert

2. Skills

Every superhero has a superpower (unless you’re Batman, who just used his family fortune to buy a bunch of cool toys). What are yours?

To stand out, continue your education. Have certifications and tangible, numbers-driven results you can refer to. No matter where you are in your career, it’s never too late to add to your professional tool belt.

Also consider promoting your expertise and ideas through guest blogs, podcasts, speaking engagements and so on. Anyone can promote themselves on LinkedIn, but the people who really stand out have a wider audience.

3. Sincerity

You have the Hollywood-ready story. You have a list of skills long enough to crash LinkedIn’s servers. But unless you craft your brand in a way that’s sincere and relatable, you’re like a plate of hot fajitas at Chili’s: all sizzle, no steak.

Sometimes, presenting yourself in the best possible light means being vulnerable: showing the world (including prospective employers) that you’re still open to new ideas and challenges. That you’re willing to grow and evolve.

Finding that balance—between humility and confidence, being an expert and willing to learn—is crucial to a compelling narrative. After all, it’s not just the stories we remember; it’s the characters, too.

4. A Storyteller

Navigating the nuances of modern branding is hard. Sometimes, even the best thinkers and leaders need someone to help them tell their story.

More and more creative agencies are making personal branding part of their suite of services. Including us!

From enhancing your social media presence to magazine features about your life and work experience, Trueline has helped companies and individuals throughout the country tell their stories in innovative and engaging ways.

You have a story. Let us help you tell it!