Discover Your Personal Brand

Before creating a personal brand, you need to understand what one is. Of course, it is easy to think of branding when it comes to McDonald’s or Disney. As soon as you hear either of those company names, you immediately picture something in your head that represents each of those brands. I picture burgers and fries when I hear McDonald’s and Mickey Mouse when I hear Disney. What do you picture?

The idea of personal branding is to create the same visual picture when someone hears your name. It is what you stand for as an individual or as a business. Take a few moments as you read through this to identify the major components of your personal brand, including your style, values and skills.

When I created my personal brand, I wrote a few keywords on 3x5 cards and carried them with me for a few days, almost a week. I lived with them. I wanted to see if these descriptors were really important to me. Were they what I valued most and what I wanted others to think of me. Stephen Covey refers to this as beginning with the end in mind, envisioning what you want people to think of you and say about you at the end of your life.

Years ago, I had the opportunity to attend two different funerals within a couple of days. The first funeral was for the father of a friend. He had been instrumental in my life and in the life of my youngest daughter who was about five years old at the time. He made everyone feel important. He always had a smile on his face and you could count on him to do whatever it would take to care for your every need if not some wants! The funeral was packed to overflowing. It was overflowing! An accordian door had to be opened to accommodate all of the people who wanted to show their respect to Pete as they shared stories about him showing up with a hammer to repair something or a plate of cookies.

The next funeral was much different. The woman was close to me and I loved her dearly. But, she hadn’t served as much. People didn’t recognize her name. There were a handful of people at her funeral. The comments were different. The comment which stuck with me, “I wish I had known her better. She seemed to be really smart.”

As you go through this exercise, think of what you want said of you. What do you want people to remember about you?

This being said … Remember that your personal brand is a reflection of who you already are. You’re going to focus on what you already are and how you are going to optimize these characteristics and attributes. It is not a creation of who you want to be. Therefore, you discover, not create, your personal brand. While this exercise will consist of developing a short written statement, it should convey your current skills, talents, interests, values, and personality or personal style. Sound impossible? Not only is it possible, completing the exercise should help you develop a deeper understanding of who you are, what elements are important in your career, and what motivates you.


Choose five words from the list below which best describe your personality. You may want to print off and highlight all of the words which you think best describe you. Then, narrow it down to the five.

adaptable; adaptive; agreeable; alert; ambitious; assertive; autonomous; brave; bright; calm; capable; charming; cheerful; compassionate; confident; conscientious; cooperative; creative; cultured; decisive; detail; determined; dynamic; enterprising; frank; friendly; funny; generous; happy; helpful; impartial; industrious; instinctive; kind; lively; organized; persistent; pleasant; practical; productive; punctual; receptive; reflective; reliable; resolute; resourceful; responsible; selective; self-assured; sincere; sociable; talented; trustworthy; upbeat; witty; wise


What do you value in life both personally and professionally? Highlight anything which stands out to you. You may even want to take a moment to think about your roles in life as you go through this list.

access; accountability; achievement; altruism; appreciation; authenticity; awareness; balance; calmness; caring; character; charity; citizenship; commitment; community; compassion; concern; consistency; courage; creativity; dedication; democracy; determination; devotion; dignity; diligence; discipline; diversity; education; efficiency; empathy; energy; enthusiasm; equality; ethics; excellence; fairness; freedom; friendship; frugality; generosity; gratitude; happiness; hard work; harmony; honesty; honor; humanity; humility; initiative; innovation; integrity; intelligence; intuition; invention; justice; kindness; knowledge; leadership; logic; loyalty; moderation; money; morality; opportunity; optimism; order; participation; patience; patriotism; perseverance; persistence; prevention; pride; productivity; prosperity; problem-solving; punctuality; quality; rational; respect; responsibility; results; sacrifice; satisfaction; selflessness; security; sincerity; solidarity; strength; teamwork; time; tolerance; transparency; trust; unity; wealth; wisdom


What are you good at? What do you do best? If I were to take the time to describe my husband, the first adjective which comes to mind is charitable. He serves with his time and talents. He hates to see others in need. Again, you may want to take some time to highlight and ponder which of these descriptors are best for you.

acting; administering; advising; aiding; allocating; analyzing; applying; appraising; arranging; assembling; assessing; assigning; auditing; balancing; budgeting; building; calculating; caring; charitable; charting; clarifying; classifying; cleaning; coaching; coding; collating; collecting; committing; communicating; compiling; composing; computing; conducting; connecting; constructing; conceptualizing; cooking; coordinating; controlling; counseling; creating; cultivating; corresponding; decorating; debating; deciding; delegating; delivering; designating; designing; developing; diagnosing; directing; documenting; drafting; drawing; editing; empathizing; encouraging; enforcing; entertaining; establishing; estimating; evaluating; examining; explaining; extracting; facilitating; focusing; forecasting; formulating; generating; governing; growing; helping; hiring; illustrating; imagining; improvising; influencing; initiating; inspecting; installing; instituting; instructing; interpreting; intervening; inventing; investigating; landscaping; leading; listening; locating; maintaining; managing; measuring; mentoring; moderating; motivating; navigating; negotiating; ordering; organizing; overseeing; performing; persuading; planning; preparing; prioritizing; processing; programming; projecting; promoting; purchasing; reconciling; recruiting; reducing; renovating; repairing; recommending; researching; resolving; restructuring; reviewing; scheduling; serving; sorting; speaking; strategizing; summarizing; supervising; supporting; surveying; troubleshooting; teaching; testing; theorizing; tracking; translating; visualizing; writing

Pulling It Together

After you have gone through this list, take your skills and attempt to incorporate values and personality style with it. For example, Managing — manage a group of individuals to effectively complete tasks and attain goals.

Forbes Magazine in 5 Ways To Build A Powerful Personal Brand shares five ways to use this personal brand once you’ve identified the main components.

Understand your value.

Show rather than tell. Don’t tell everyone about your personal brand. Simply demonstrate it. Show who you are through action.

Understand how much your value is worth.

Deliver on your value consistently and get testimonials. What are testimonials? Nothing more than references. Referrals. Letters of recommendation. Don’t be embarrassed to ask. People in your network want to aid as they know they need the same in return. Think of it as a mode of paying it forward.

Increase your value through education. There is little more important than continuous education. Look at your professional field. How often is it changing? Some fields change more often than other — like technology. Be on top of your field and know what you need to do to keep up to date.

Take the time to know yourself. Now, what do you want others to recognize in you? What do you want to be known for? This is the foundation and value of a personal brand.