How To Create a Personal Brand

Last Updated Jul 14, 2011 2:44 PM EDT

Contrary to popular belief, personal branding is not complicated. It's relatively easy, even in today's hyper-connected world, to create a recognizable "brand" for yourself. It takes about a day, at most. Here's exactly what you do:
  • STEP #1: Define your exact name. Decide what version of your name that you're going to use. If it's similar to a famous person, you'll probably want to use an initial or something to prevent confusion. If you have an unusual name, if it's memorable, embrace it (e.g. "Zig Ziglar"), but if it's just difficult, simplify it. If it's just a plain awful name (e.g. "Lipshitz") change it, even if the change annoys your parents.
  • STEP #2: Define your exact product. Decide what value you provide to the world and come up with an appropriate "product name" for what you do. This can be as simple as a job title, but if you want people to remember you, you'll need to articulate -- in a few words -- why you're different from everyone else. For example, I position myself to clients as "world's only sales fanboy."
  • STEP #3: Create your public image. There are two parts to this: your public photos and the way you present yourself in person or on video. Have a professional photographer take a professional portrait that "fits" your product. Avoid anything outre or sexy, unless that's what you're selling. Same thing with how you dress. Your face-to-face appearance must reinforce your brand.
  • STEP #4: Standardize your messages. Go through ALL your social networking sites and change your name, product description and photos to match what you defined in Steps #1 through #3. Remove as much as you can all personal and career data that's irrelevant to your brand. Then change your business card, stationery, website, etc. to match.
  • STEP #5: Deliver on your "brand promise". While branding gurus talk about brand as if it's the be-all and end-all of business, the simple truth is that brand is largely a reflection of the product. Once you build up a track record of success, it will be that success that creates your person brand, and the stuff above won't matter so much.
It's really that simple. So simple, in fact, I'm amazed that so many people have confused and confusing personal brands.

By the way, you CAN have a Facebook page for your friends and family, but you should use some other moniker so that it doesn't create brand dissonance. And never, ever link to it on your business sites.