Make sure you have a product before jumping on the ‘Personal Brand’ band wagon

Make sure you have a product before jumping on the ‘Personal Brand’ band wagon
Personal Brand

By Jose Ruiz | Alder Koten

“You now have to decide what ‘image’ you want for your brand. Image means personality. Products, like people, have personalities, and they can make or break them in the market place.” – David Ogilvy

A lot has been said in the past few years about personal branding. A term introduced in the early 80´s by Al Ries and Jack Trout in their book: “Positioning: The Battle for your Mind”. In chapter 23 Ries and Trout point that you can benefit by using positioning strategy to advance your career. Key principle: “Don’t try to do everything yourself. Find a horse to ride”. Moreover, so the personal branding bandwagon began to roll.

It is a great concept, and it is a very valid concept: Build your career with focus. Define yourself. However, somewhere along the way, as the bandwagon kept rolling, personal branding began to be defined as personal marketing and brand identity. Somewhere along the way the focus was taken off building a career with focus and put on self-promotion.

An excellent tool if you’ve planned your career, or even if you have hit a few bumps along the road but understand how you want to position yourself.

A awful idea if you have not done the homework to define your personal offering. Social media has made this a very dangerous proposition for those with a bad or undefined ‘product’ and just following the trend of self-promotion on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIN.

Some of the personal branding efforts I’ve seen remind me of not following one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever gotten in my career. It came on my first sales call shadowing my boss. Before stepping into a meeting, he leaned over and told me “Just remember: It is better to stay quiet and let them think that you are clueless than opening your mouth and confirming it.” Not that I’ve always followed it. However, I am sure you get the point.

Your brand identity is about what you want to communicate about yourself. It is tricky because the bulk of it is not explicit.

Personal branding is about how everything you do: every job, every social and personal endeavor will define who you are and what you can offer in the next step of your career. You cannot go wrong if you focus on that.


About Alder Koten

Alder Koten helps shape organizations through a combination of research, executive search, cultural & leadership assessment, and other talent advisory services. Our recruiters and executive search consultants bring to the recruiting process an in-depth understanding of the market conditions and strategic talent issues faced by clients within their particular industry. Our leadership consultants provide advisory services that are crafted to be collaborative, responsive, pragmatic, and results oriented. Focused on expanding the capabilities of the organization through talent.

Jose Ruiz is also involved in executive search work focused on board members, CEOs and senior-level executives; and consulting engagements related to leadership and organizational effectiveness helping clients create thriving cultures.