By Karen Lomas
There is nobody else like you. Your personal brand is simply who you are, how you interact, what matters to you — your individual unique identity.
How does a personal brand differ to a persona?
In psychology, Erving Goffman referred to the concept of the persona – the performances we adopt. This is a bit different to the 21st-Century concept of personal branding. We can portray different personas depending upon context. We might be playful with our friends and more contained in our mode of conduct in a business meeting.
On the other hand, a personal brand is bigger picture – the overarching you. This becomes the way in which you are generally perceived to be by others.
Take any hero or role model and think about yourself what it is about their identity that you appreciate. How you describe that person is their personal brand. For example, Audrey Hepburn, had poise, elegance, grace. She could dance well, always looked well-groomed and conducted herself with kindness and compassion. I admire her comic timing and I am impressed by her energy and commitment to her charitable work. She was apparently very reliable and committed. These qualities — her personal brand — are important if you wish to be seen in good light by a movie director.
Personal branding and social media
A prospective employer is able to access any public Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and TikTok accounts with relative ease. What might they find out about you if they decide to do so? If people wish to portray themselves in a certain way and have photos or videos publish that contradict that image, it’s easy to spoil a personal brand. When job hunting, it’s a good idea to check all your social platforms so that how you present yourself is consistent and not confusing to others.
Realistically, you can’t ‘sell’ your personal brand in a certain way — only 50% of the time. You need to maintain your branded identity and demonstrate your style 24/7. For example, if you’re meeting someone new for the purposes of general networking, you must be ‘on-brand’ throughout. Here’s an earlier podcast on this topic.
The trick in job-hunting is to make sure your pitch to a recruiter (via your cover letter, resume, or digital resume (the Zygadoc), clearly communicates your personal brand.
Karen is a career coach specialising in early career exploration with school-aged students. This article is an edited excerpt, published with permission from the author. You can view the whole article and its accompanying podcast here.