Archive for May, 2014

Leveraging Your Experience to Create A Personal Brand

What makes a brand legendary? A superior product? Innovative operations? Marketing creativity? Is it all of the above, or any one of them? These became burning questions in our minds when we recently read that Starbucks—you know, the famous coffee-comfort company with 20,000 stores worldwide—is considering leveraging its intellectual property as yet another revenue stream for the prosperous company. The company won’t be abandoning its roots in coffee; it’s simply planning to leverage what they’ve learned about marketing through mobile apps, mobile payments, and loyalty cards  via the coffee business,  to perhaps benefit other companies. So what can we learn from this for our own branding efforts.

First thought that comes to mind, recall Oprah Winfrey’s famous dictum, paraphrased here: These are the things I know for sure …

The seed of your personal brand lies in the amalgam of stories and experience you’ve gleaned and all the lessons you’ve learned from previous activity. Packaged cleverly and with authenticity, these represent the seeds of your brand , and they have value. To get started:

Identify Your Brand

Ask yourself, what do I know for sure? What do I know that’s been affirmed by experience? What’s the depth of that experience? How is it different from the experience offered up by others? Working through these elemental questions will establish the foundation for your brand?

Position Your Brand

Once you’ve identified the essential elements of your brand—in PR, for example, you’ll want to look for a distinct niche. Do you work primarily in one industry? Healthcare, telecommunications, arts and entertainment, financial? Do you specialize in a specific area, or sub-specialty of public relations—media relations, public affairs, event planning, media production? Or, is your overall breadth of knowledge, contacts, experience so valuable that it distinguishes you from the rest of the field. If so, perhaps that’s your differentiation. Whatever the difference may be, you’ll need to spell it out for others in some comprehensible way. Common methods for distinguishing these brand attributes can be vision, core values, networks and contacts, access to  key targets, etc. At the end of the positioning phase, though, you’ll need to package your brand, and promote it.

Package Your Brand

Just as a company does, after you’ve identified the elements of your brand and established a clear differentiation from others offering similar services or attributes, a critical next step is the packaging of the brand: the perceivable cues that will make your brand identifiable and, hopefully, broaden its appeal. These include visual elements, including logo, as well as tagline, nomenclature associated with your identity. Choose carefully. These will become the tangible representations of your brand.

Promote Your Brand

There’s no better and more accessible form of promotion today than social media. Nearly everyone can use it. But to promote effectively, you have to understand the platforms and tools. So if you’re not already on social, get started. The immediacy of the feedback will be both revealing and rewarding. And to use social media effectively, you’ve got to know a little about SEO, keywords, and optimizing your copy for search. Remember, also, though that in the real world, your personal brand goes with you always. Keep in mind that what you say, do, how you say it, and how you present yourself all work towards [or against] building a powerful personal brand. No one knows your brand better than you, but here’s our final advice on promotion: keep it authentic.

Refining Your Brand

Endless iterations of sharpening, improving, repackaging and reassessing your brand. Reviewing over and over the same questions outlined above, tweaking, challenging, modifying and even forgoing certain aspects of your brand that may need to be adjusted over time. Acquiring news skills, moving .

What Is Your Personal Brand?

None of this is simple or easy. If it were, everyone would have a viable personal brand. What makes a brand marketable is the endless interplay of knowledge, experience, positioning, packaging, promotion, and redefinition that is the alchemy of life. For our closing note, we highly recommend this article of 38 tips from top bloggers. To our way of thinking, these bloggers pretty much cover the waterfront in terms of good advice on building a personal brand [through blogs]. If you’re looking for a quick primer on personal branding [and blogging], it’s right here:

Follow prdoctorchicago on


Follow me on Twitter