I never used to give much thought to my personal brand. I was who I was. I wasn’t a brand. The word brand conjured up something artificial to me. Something selected carefully with a clear, and not necessarily genuine intent. Branding occurred to me as a curated image. Now, that’s true, to an extent. When I look at established brands or how people portray themselves, I see the normalized view of a brand: that carefully curated image used to communicate something to the world.
But in thinking about personal branding, I’ve grown to see a differentiation between the brand-image a person or organization may portray and their true brand. This is because their brand is far more than any curated image. Their brand is everything about them: every choice, every action, every value, etc. Ideally, their brand image and true brand align, but sometimes that’s not the case.
I build my personal brand in each moment. I’m always projecting something. Sometimes I’m vulnerable and authentic. Other times I’m fearful and a people-pleaser. Sometimes I’m a committed writer and other times a committed procrastinator. All of these things are a part of my brand. They may not be what I’d want to encapsulate in a logo or message, but they’re part of the fabric of who I am.
And who I am is my brand. Just like who you are is yours.
The goal of any brand is to be authentic. That means capturing all of it, owning all of it, and not shying away from the things that make you, you. But it does also mean being intentional and clear. It means making choices in line with who you want to be not just what’s easy, convenient, or safe. It means knowing that every choice is a reflection of you and communicates something to those around you.
The secret to beginning to master your personal brand is noticing what it is today. That might mean confronting some hard truths, but in order to define what you want your brand to be, it’s a necessary step.
So what will you do today to be really honest with yourself about what your brand IS? And also be really honest about what you want it to BE?