Let's Polish Your Personal Brand

Last Updated Mar 6, 2008 8:52 AM EST

Let's Polish Your Personal BrandBlogger Gill Corkindale says she laughed out loud the first time she heard the idea of creating a personal brand.

She's not laughing now, and neither should you.

In today's supercompetitive business environment it pays in cash and career advancement for you to self-promote your skills and capabilities. It's time to take another look at "Brand Me."

In a two-parter on Harvard Business, Corkindale lays out the reasons why building a personal brand is a prerequisite for career success (Part One) and 11 tips for creating it (Part Two).

Here are three of her tips that resonated with me:

  1. Rethink the way you view your career. Don't think of yourself as an employee but as an asset to that you own. Forget your job title. Ask yourself: What do I do that brings value? What I am most proud of?
  2. Learn from the big brands. Identify what makes you distinctive from the competition. What have you done recently to make yourself stand out? What would your colleagues or your customers say is your greatest strength?
  3. Make yourself visible. Build your profile internally and externally. Ways to do this include networking, signing up for high-profile projects, showcasing your skills in presentations or workshops, writing for internal or external publications, volunteering for committees or panel discussions at a conference.
In order for Brand Me to work, she concludes, it must be compelling to your audience, authentic, consistent, and well-known.

Personal Brands in Action
When first wrestling with this idea I had trouble recalling a personal brand in action. Now having recently read John Quelch's new book on marketing and democracy, it's suddenly clear to me that the presidential candidates are creating personal brands to distinguish themselves from the competition for time-challenged voters

Even the less political astute among us can detail the brand attributes each is selling.

  • McCain: Tested in battle (in war as well as politics); straight talker; compassionate conservative.
  • Clinton: Prepared to lead; tough; empathetic.
  • Obama: Visionary; uniter; change agent.
Let's do a personal brand makeover. Think of a friend who could use a little career lift and create for them a brand. What would it include? What's their "ready to lead from day one" tag line?

(Polish image by Bob Jagendorf, CC 2.0)

  • Sean Silverthorne

    Sean Silverthorne is the editor of HBS Working Knowledge, which provides a first look at the research and ideas of Harvard Business School faculty. Working Knowledge, which won a Webby award in 2007, currently records 4 million unique visitors a year. He has been with HBS since 2001.

    Silverthorne has 28 years experience in print and online journalism. Before arriving at HBS, he was a senior editor at CNET and executive editor of ZDNET News. While at At Ziff-Davis, Silverthorne also worked on the daily technology TV show The Site, and was a senior editor at PC Week Inside, which chronicled the business of the technology industry. He has held several reporting and editing roles on a variety of newspapers, and was Investor Business Daily's first journalist based in Silicon Valley.