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Why Your Personal Brand Sucks: Attack of the Clones

Don't be a personal branding clonePersonal branding is a concept on fire. On Twitter and other social media sites personal branding and social media experts are a dime a dozen, and that's just the problem, says blog Six Pixels of Separation. With the floodgates of communication thrown wide open by social media, personal branding has become far too impersonal, says the blog's Mitch Joel:
Instead of people really digging deep, opening up and living passionately, we're moving ever-closer to the point where most individuals are expressing their personal brands in ways that make them look more like sterile and plastic TV news anchors than original thinkers. It's not everyone... but there is an ever-growing group of those who come off as fake, insincere, and simply out for their own personal gain. In short, they seem and feel like plastic and taste like vanilla.
And, of course, vanilla flavored plastic is a pretty unappetizing dish to serve up to your followers. So what's the cure if you're one of those struggling to differentiate yourself form the army of personal branding clones? Christopher S. Penn's blog Awaken Your Superhero has a suggestion:
Here's why your personal brand sucks. Here's why you're trying to be a clone of Chris Brogan or CC Chapman or Whitney Hoffman and failing miserably at it. It's not because you're stupid.. it's not because you're boring... it's because you've failed to distill your essential quality.
Your essential quality is something that transcends any particular job, technology, platform, or idea. Your business card may say that you're a database engineer or a sales associate or the Vice President of Strategy and Innovation, but that's not what's essential about you. What's essential about you is a quality, a trait, a method of working in the world that is unique to you.
Penn identifies his essential quality as "playing with blocks... I can see all these different pieces of systems and put them together in new and different ways," but cautions it took him years to figure this out and understand how to communicate it succinctly. But unearthing your essential quality is worth the effort, Penn argues. Understanding what makes you unique will set you apart from the (plastic vanilla) clones and, he asserts, "once you figure out your essential quality, your personal brand will take care of itself."

What's your essential quality?

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(Clone image by adactio, CC 2.0)