How to build your personal brand


In the competitive world of business having a personal brand – standing for something – is a useful if not essential way to differentiate yourself. Successful managers recognise the importance of a marketing plan to help their organisation meets its objectives and you should do the same for yourself.

Added on 30 January 2014 by Roger Delves

A strong credible and sustainable personal brand can rev up your career and boost your business success.

Here are some tips to enable you to develop your own brand or achieve a personal brand revamp.

First ask yourself:

  • What are the key strengths or skills you want to be known for and how are you currently perceived? Are you happy with these perceptions?
  • What are the important professional aspects that you want other people to recognise and associate with you?
  • When you think of the image you want to project is it both credible and sustainable? What is valued in your organisation?
  • How is your style or way of working different from your team members? How would you like it to be different?

Successful brands are built on strength – they don’t try to paper over cracks. You need to first define your X-factor as successful brands set you apart from your competitors in some way. There are two aspects to brand appeal: one is rational and tangible and relates to what you do; the other is emotional and intangible and relates to how you behave. The first is important because it relates to your professionalism. But it is the second that is the differentiator. How people respond to you at an emotional level is what will cause you to stand out. This is your ‘brand essence’.

Stand out from the crowd with your ‘brand essence’. These are intangible but will include concepts such as your personal presence your charisma your energy loyalty your openness emotional intelligence your attractiveness as an individual. Think carefully about what you want to focus on. Where are you trying to take your career? You can’t be all things to all people – this will dilute your message.

Be honest and realistic in developing your brand. Start this process by writing down your tangible and intangible strengths. Map these on to what you know the organisation values. Once you have decided on your brand personality – which is how others see you – then make sure that everything about you is aligned with this personality. Simply put if you would like to project your brand personality as a creative innovator don’t dress like an accountant.

One route to a personal brand is to align yourself carefully with the brand image that your organisation wants to project. Another route is to choose consciously to stand apart from the brand image of the organisation and to stand for something different but important to what the brand does.

Network get connected: When you have decided what your brand image is going to be you must project this. Get introduced to people who will find your brand image exciting and relevant and look for opportunities to showcase your unique qualities and expertise by seeking speaker opportunities and writing for the media. Consider using social marketing tools to widen your brand awareness.

Be prepared for challenges: In a competitive environment colleagues may respond to attempts you make to differentiate yourself. They may undermine the brand you are trying to create; they may try to cast doubts on your credibility. Your brand image has to be robust enough to withstand this sort of attack. If at the first sign of competition you are seen not to be what you say you are then your brand image will be immediately damaged.

Like brands in a supermarket your brand image will take time to establish. Once established it can only change incrementally and over time. Sudden changes in brand images are rarely well-received.

Building your personal brand will benefit your business but it also helps lay the foundation for your future success – whatever direction you choose. Personal branding is not a substitute for performance but can be a vital part of how you are perceived. Your personal brand can help you remain top of mind with those matter most. Define it promote it and protect it.

This article is based on an excerpt from the book The Top 50 Management Dilemmas: Fast Solutions to Everyday Problems by Roger Delves Director of the Ashridge Executive Masters in Management programme and Sona Sherratt Ashridge Faculty member and leadership expert.