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Developing Your Personal Brand
1. How the World Sees You: Personal Branding (Part One)
2. Designing Your Brand: Personal Branding (Part Two)
3. Building Your Brand: Personal Branding (Part Three)
4. Maintaining Your Brand: Personal Branding (Part Four)

Designing Your Brand: Personal Branding (Part Two)

“At the center of your being you have the answer: you know who you are and you know what you want.”
– Lao Tzu

In my first post on personal branding, we talked about what a personal brand is, and about how attention to your brand can help you in your career. We also met Charlie, a young engineer who’d developed a strong brand based on responsiveness. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at Charlie’s decision to focus on responsiveness, and you’ll start identifying the attributes will form the foundation of your own brand.

The first step in brand development is design: figuring out what shape you want your brand to take. Think of your brand as a house—you can’t lay the foundation or frame the walls without knowing the dimensions of the rooms.

To design a complete brand, you need to pay attention to three areas:

    • Values: Your core values are the foundation of your personal brand. What do you care about? What are you willing to sacrifice for?Some of your values might relate to social causes, while others could be simple business priorities like “product quality” or “customer service”. The important thing is that they be authentic. If you pick values at random or choose things that you think you “should” care about, you’ll build your brand on a weak foundation. Your values are the issues that keep you up at night, and the ideas that motivate you to act.Although we don’t know exactly how Charlie would articulate his values, we can presume that he feels strongly about responsiveness—perhaps as a standalone value, or perhaps as part of a larger commitment to service, relationships, or communication.
    • Promise: What are you doing to protect and promote your values? What unique talents and insights do you bring to the table?Early in your career, your promise will be more execution-focused. You’ll emphasize strengths like learning quickly, working efficiently, and staying organized while juggling multiple projects. As you build experience, your promise will shift to include leadership strengths, industry expertise, and strategic acumen.When Charlie committed himself to responsiveness, for example, he was just beginning to establish himself as a junior engineer. He couldn’t promise the most extensive technical expertise, or the deepest strategic insight—but he could promise to answer his phone and do his best to help the person on the other end of the line, so he started there. He added other promises to his brand over time, but responsiveness would always be a core part of his brand foundation.Again, no matter where you are in your career or what your specific strengths are, your promise needs to be genuine. Promising skills or experience that you don’t have will only damage your brand. Your promise is the structural framing of your house; if it’s hollow, your brand won’t stand for long.
    • Personality: Your personality is the way you communicate your values and promise. How do you speak, act, and write? How do you present yourself visually—from the way you dress, to the typography on your website?Think of your personality as the eye-catching parts of the house—the front windows, the color of the door, the landscaping and decoration. A strong, distinctive personality will engage your audience and convince them to dig deeper. An authentic personality, one that reflects your values and reinforces your promise, will help them connect with what they find under the surface.

      Answering the phone was Charlie’s promise—how he answered it established his personality. His respectful, professional tone and straightforward conversation style helped him cultivate trust, encouraging callers to open up and rely on him to resolve their questions and concerns.

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