Branding today, just as it has been throughout history, is simply a way of putting your mark on something so as to tell the rest of the world, “This is mine; if you see it, it belongs to me.  If you mess with it, I have the right to mess you up.” –  Imagine the cattle branded by the rancher.

Wikipedia defines a brand as, “…the identity of a specific product, service, or business.”  They go on to say, “The word brand has continued to eVolve to encompass identity – it affects the personality of a product, company or service.”  What about that word personality? Let’s take a closer look.

Perhaps you have noticed that your ideas or lifestyle have been the subject of controversy or disagreement from time to time. What you think and how you live can be considered a measure of your personal brand.  Born into a wealthy family, college dropout, gamble, fly airplanes, teach…all these descriptors define us as humans, but because we’re all a little different, we can define those subtle differences as our personal brand.  It’s the nuance of our personal preference that helps us stand out.

Let’s bring this into a professional or business context.  Say you just graduated from college – what does your future look like?  Fifty years ago, you expected to work for one firm, put in 30-40 years, retire and collect your pension. Today, the future is a big unknown.  Today, you have to be more clever.

The typical collage graduate today is expected to work for several organizations, may possibly volunteer for a non-profit, work in the community and at church, own a business or businesses (even while working for someone else), run for office and raise a family. He or she will compete with thousands of people for time, money and sometimes a job.  Many will have similar qualifications, so the challenge you face is not simply how to qualify for a job, but how can you stand out?

That’s right; being qualified for a job doesn’t cut it anymore.  For example, say ten people apply for the same position. Five men, five women, all from a different ethnic background, all equally educated and experienced.  Who do you pick?  After years of working in various positions where hiring was a regular occurrence, I can confidently tell you the job went the one with the best PERSONAL brand.  What does that look like?  They can quickly present a focused and consistent personal mission or message. They do it with confidence, and it’s in harmony with the brand that is attempting to hire them.

Branding is important!  I’ll talk more about developing your personal brand in a future post.  For now, tell me about your encounters with personal branding – what benefits or detriments do you see?

(Now, read my previous blog: Plenipotentiary)