Personal Branding: 8 Tips That Will Help You Stand Out

From packaging yourself to building alliances with organizations that will extend and enhance your personal brand, here are eight tips for distinguishing yourself from your peers, whether you're on the job or searching for a new one.

By Catherine Kaputa
Mon, May 18, 2009

CIO — To be successful in business today, you need to have a distinct personal brand so that you can stand out from the crowd. Personal branding involves articulating a simple, clear statement of who you are, doing it consistently, and delivering on it again and again, so that when people think of, say, business turnarounds, they think of you. Or when people think of you, they think of a leader who gets companies back on track. Your brand should represent something different, relevant and valuable.

Barack Obama used personal branding to great effect during the presidential campaign. He built his brand around the idea of change, which turned out to be a very compelling concept, and he packaged his brand idea with a strong visual identity and a phenomenal verbal identity-—an eloquent message that he delivered superbly. Obama's clear, compelling brand (not to mention his grass-roots organizing and ability to raise money) allowed him to defeat more well-known, experienced competitors.

[ Read how an IT infrastructure director is putting the promises of personal branding into practice in her job search: Developing a Personal Brand for Your Job Search ]

Personal branding is just as important to business and technology professionals as it is to politicians, especially in a down economy. Whether you're a recent victim of a layoff or you're employed but worried about job loss, personal branding can make all the difference in your future job security and career success. By making yourself known for something special-—whether it be a unique skill, attitude or problem-solving approach-—you can make a stronger impression on prospective employers and/or demonstrate to your existing employer that you're indispensible.

Most of us need to devote attention to our personal brands. The following questions will help you determine what aspects of personal branding you need to focus your attention on:

  • Your message: Can you explain your big idea clearly in a couple of sentences, so that people know what's different, relevant and special about you?


  • Your scope: If people were to Google your name, would they discover high-quality information about you and your accomplishments?


  • Your market: Can you clearly define your key target markets and the best way to market yourself to them?


  • Your appearance: Do you have a visual identity that appeals to your target markets, is consistent with your personal brand and is different from others?


  • Your style: Do your personality and your leadership style engage others?

If you answered No to any of the above questions, you have work to do. Here are eight tips for creating a strong personal brand.

Stay focused. A brand maven once said to me, "There is no "and' in brand." The maven's point: The more specifically you define who you are and what you do, the better chance you'll have of selling yourself. It's counter-intuitive because so many people think that if they define themselves broadly, they'll have more options. In fact, the opposite occurs. If you come across as a Jack or Jill of All Trades, you will confuse people. People will wonder how good you are at any one thing if you say you are good at so many.

Continue Reading

Our Commenting Policies