Cultivating A Personal Brand

  • Article by: Star Tribune Sales and Marketing
  • Updated: February 16, 2009 - 8:23 AM

In a down economy, the competence to handle a job isn’t always enough to land a new position. That’s why developing a strong personal brand can be a key to success.

Now, the good news: Savvy job seekers can improve their odds for success by reviewing and establishing their own "personal brand," which can go a long way in helping them stand out from the crowd

"The fundamental lesson anyone needs to know about differentiating themselves - especially in a job search situation - is that perception is reality," says Karl Speak, president of Brand Tool Box, a Minneapolis-based brand management firm. "As easy as that sounds, most people do not hold themselves accountable to the perceptions they leave."

To test those perceptions, Speak suggests that job seekers ask people in their social and professional circles to write down three words or phrases that best describe them. If that feedback is consistent with how individuals would characterize themselves, then the desired personal brand would largely be seen as authentic. If not, that's a strong signal to go back and reassess if the preferred brand isn't clear, or doesn't square with the perceptions of others.

Generally, the strongest personal brands are ones that are distinctive in the market, relevant to the needs of others, and consistent over time. Speak says qualities most often found in such personal brands include:

  • A strong commitment to personal values.
  • A commitment to using personal qualities to make a difference for others.
  • The courage to be distinctive.
  • The wisdom and energy to make their actions relevant to a wide range of people.
  • The discipline to be consistent in all of their actions.
  • A clear vision for continually building a stronger personal brand.
  • An understanding the personal brand will not please everyone.
  • Accountability to the perceptions they create, and responsibility to managing the perceptions others have of them.
  • A belief that relationships are a key driver of success.
  • For those with personal brands defined by these attributes, a job search can be both successful and personally rewarding.

"By practicing the fundamentals of personal brand management you can be more of who you are - not less - with other people," Speak notes. "When you believe you can be more of who you are, you will be more confident, more successful and more satisfied in your life."


Brett Pyrtle is principal of Turning Point Communications LLC, a communications consulting firm based in St. Paul.


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