Developing Your Personal Brand

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When you hear the word “brand”, you probably think of popular companies like Nike, Apple, and Google. These corporations are instantly recognizable by their stunning logos and catchy slogans, but don’t be mistaken — large corporations with trademarks aren’t the only ones with brands. You, as an individual, have your own personal brand.


What is a personal brand?

Great question. It’s how you market yourself. Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, explains it in one simple sentence: “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room”.

How do you want others to view you? Do you want to be known as someone with expertise in a certain niche? Are you someone who wears multiple hats and wants be seen as a jack of all trades? Don’t mistake your personal brand with your professional experience or personal accomplishments. And don’t mistake your personal brand with the number of followers or likes you get on social media. Your personal brand is what you can do for others.


Identify your strengths and unique factor

The first step in developing your personal brand is honing in on your strengths. Focus on what you can do exceptionally well. Are you emphatic? Highly analytical? What about dependable? Ask your friends and colleagues what they value most about you — this will give you a better understanding of how others view you.

The next step is to discover what makes you unique. This doesn’t include how you’re a student at X school or that you’re an employee at X company — throw out the generals! Identify your unique factor and leverage it. What makes you distinctive and what have you done lately to stand out? And how do you combine your strengths with your unique factor to provide value? Once you answer these questions, you can move onto the next step.


Understand your audience

Even if you don’t think you have an audience, you do. Your audience is who you can benefit with your strengths and unique factor. This can include friends, family, colleagues, classmates, online followers, etc. Learn as much as you can about them and identify what they value. (Don’t worry about appealing to everyone.) Once you understand who your target audience is, you can craft your message to them.


Craft your message

Anyone can tell an audience what they do. “I do X at Y company.” What people often overlook is the importance of storytelling when crafting their message. But you don’t want to pour out your entire life story. So what do you do? Luckily, there’s a middle ground.

Create a one-minute elevator pitch — who you are, what you do, why you’re passionate about it, and how it provides value. As a Braven Fellow, this is one of the first topics you cover and master in the course. Keep your pitch straightforward and memorable. Your message should be embodied in everything you do and should reflect the people you’re communicating with.

One of the most important things to keep in mind when developing your personal brand is authenticity. It’s the cornerstone of your personal brand. Authenticity creates trust, drives innovation, and allows you to build deeper connections with others.


Remember to stay authentic and keep your values at the heart of everything you do.

Gabriella Bilbo, Social Media ConsultantGabriella Bilbo

Social Media Consultant

Spring ’17 Fellow, San José State University