The term personal brand gets tossed around an awful lot, but good luck getting anybody to give you a clear definition of the term.
Here’s how I think of it:
Your personal brand is the sum total of your reputation, your personality, your values, and your interests.
The purpose of your personal brand is to build trust and goodwill with your professional network and/or audience (if you are a creator).
When you frame it in these terms, it’s clear that everyone has a personal brand, whether they like it or not.
And look: we can accept that it’s kind of gross to think about condensing our identities down to something like a “brand,” which we’re more likely to associate with monolithic corporations like Nike or Apple than with a living, breathing person.
But it really doesn’t matter what we call it. What matters is that we’re intentional about managing it.
If you choose not to acknowledge the existence of your personal brand, you’re doing yourself a serious disservice in your professional life. You have a valuable asset that’s being mismanaged due to neglect.
I’m going to be exploring this concept in greater detail in the coming months with this newsletter, but today I want to offer a kind of introductory text. Let’s dig in.
Your personal brand should clearly and succinctly answer the questions:
- Who are you? and
- Why should I care?
Allow me to offer up my own answers to give you a sense of what we’re aiming for here.
Who am I?
- I’m a writer who does marketing in the tech industry.
- I taught myself to code and transitioned out of an unrelated career in my 30s.
- I live off-grid in a cabin in the woods, and I’m a tree-hugging DIY enthusiast.
Why should you care?
- I have a lot of experience as a writer and speaker, and I enjoy sharing what I know.
- I went through a massive career reinvention, and I can show you how I did it.
- I have a very unconventional lifestyle, so you can expect an unconventional perspective if you hear me out.
To be sure, there’s plenty of other stuff to know about me. Some interesting, mostly boring.
But when I’m creating stuff online, I am intentional about sharing things that fit into the narrative framework I’ve laid out above.
That doesn’t mean my every move is calculated or scripted. Not even close!
But it does mean, for instance, that I’m probably not going to share a photo of my lunch on social media, or write a post to complain about the traffic on my way to the gym.
I know my followers aren’t looking for that, and it’s not going to be interesting or useful to anybody. I’ll save that stuff for close friends who are interested in (or at least, will tolerate hearing about) the more mundane details of my life.
There are key details about who I am and what I believe that I want you to know—and if I’m clear and consistent in how I present those details, I will be much more successful in earning your trust.
The name of the game is ‘trust’
To be honest, I think most marketing content online is pretty awful. The niche is severely oversaturated with shady grifters and regurgitated fluff.
In my experience, it’s been quite difficult to find clear, concise, actionable information. I don’t trust most of the resources I encounter because it’s obvious that the creator is just trying to sell me something.
…Why do I share this opinion here with you, here, now?
Well first of all, because it’s what I truly believe.
But also—not coincidentally—I suspect that you probably share this belief if you’re someone who is coming to me for guidance.
And I know that we trust people who share our beliefs.
As a writer and marketer, I am always seeking ways that I can gain and maintain your trust.
But this isn’t slimy or disingenuous! I’m not lying, nor misrepresenting who I am.
I struggled with this concept for many years, and I think others do, too.
Why do I do what I do? Why do I write this newsletter, for example?
I’m not asking for anything in exchange.
I want to help people by sharing what I know.
This may have the residual effect of boosting my social status and opening me up to new & better professional opportunities in the future, but that’s not my primary goal. None of this would work out in anyone’s favor if I was purely trying to grow my vanity metrics.
That said, in order for me to be effective, I need you to trust me, because I can’t help you if you don’t.
What do I do to gain and maintain your trust?
- I’m generous with my knowledge
- I’m open about my beliefs and values
- I’m authentic & consistent in how I present myself
Master this formula and you’ll be blown away by the goodwill that you generate wherever you go.
I certainly have been. 🙌
That’s all I’ve got on my mind this time around. I hope this has been a helpful primer on the topic of personal branding! We’ll return to it again soon in future installments of this newsletter.
‘Til next time—