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Personal Brand: The Marketing of You

Written by Eileen Parzek, © 2004

If you are in business, you have undoubtedly heard about branding; in fact, it seems like “branding” is all the rage right now. Branding a business - figuring out what makes it unique and special, and creating a visible, repetitive presentation of it - is one of the cornerstones of Business Marketing 101.

But have you heard about "personal branding?" This is when you think of yourself, an individual, in similar terms. What do people think of, when they think of you? It is a concept that is particularly relevant to solo entrepreneurs and micro business owners. As such, the brand you develop becomes about you, as much as it does about your business. You ARE your business, after all.

So, what do you want to be known for? Are you super-fast at what you do, delivering your projects on time and under budget? Maybe you have the reputation as relentless in pursuit of your client's best interests. You might be sharp as a tack, and known for your ability to zero in on problems and solve them. Whatever it is, this can be the start of your personal brand. This isn't the time to be shy - if you can't puff up with pride about what you are REALLY about, at least ask your best clients what THEY know you for.

Now think about what you stand for as an entrepreneur. What is your vision of your place in the world, and what does your life's work mean to you? This will become another consideration in your personal brand.

Your personality is another aspect of personal brand. Many times, entrepreneurs are hesitant to let their authentic selves "out" in the business world. They think they have to have a mask on, to appear a certain way to be professional. From the perspective of branding, this might actually be a big mistake. Some of the most unique, special, and memorable aspects of who you are as entrepreneurs make the best personal brand identities. Think about it: why did you start a business, if not to express what you truly are good at doing? It is certainly worth considering. Let yourself out of the box!

These are the first steps to determining what your personal brand is. The second aspect is your personal appearance, and communication style. Yes, even your style of dress, the environment your clients see you in, and the way you answer the phone can be part of your personal brand. What is important that it be consistent and reflect the vision and mission of your business.

Once you know what your personal brand is or will be, its time to think about where and how you can let the world know. You need to begin repeating that message everywhere you go.

Many small business owners state that referral business and word of mouth is their primary source of business. This is GREAT - it means that you have made an impression on someone and they thought to talk you up when right opportunity arose. Personal branding simply means that you have deliberately built a message that your network of contacts can spread for you.

Read the rest of this article and much more, in our e-book, Do It Yourself Branding


Eileen Parzek is an award winning graphic and web designer providing digital and print graphic design and web design services. Always found at the intersection of information, creativity and technology, her business, Business Design Studio (www.businessdesignstudio.com) helps small businesses make a big impression.

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