Defining your personal brand, part 2: your personality and desired impact

Joseph Liu is a career consultant, keynote speaker, columnist, and host of the Career Relaunch podcast. He helps professionals relaunch their careers by more powerfully marketing their personal brands. His work is informed by 10 years of global, client-side marketing experience in the US & UK managing brands including Glad, Liquid-Plumr, Gü Puds, and Häagen-Dazs, his involvement with four major brand relaunches, and 500+ hours of professional career coaching. He now applies principles used to build & relaunch consumer brands to help professionals and business owners build & relaunch their personal brands. He's been a speaker at TEDx and MarketingWeek Live, and served as a judge for The Drum’s Social Buzz Awards.

This article is the second in a 2-part series on defining your personal brand.

Your personal brand is the expression of everything you stand for in your career and life. Defining who you are as a brand gives your career meaning and purpose, direction and intention, focus and clarity. A clear personal brand allows you to have a set of guiding principles, a touchstone you can use to understand if you’re on the right path in your professional and personal life.

In the first part of this 2-part series on defining your personal brand, I outlined how you can build the foundations of your personal brand with the attributes and skills you possess. In this article, I’ll be covering two additional factors to create further definition around your personal brand: your personality and desired impact.

3) What's your personality?

In addition to a brand’s attributes and functional benefits, a brand can further differentiate itself by possessing a certain personality and tone of voice. Brands have unique values and approaches that translate through to emotional benefits consumers experience. For example, with Volvo, the emotional benefit could be something like the peace of mind you gain from driving a car made by a brand that puts safety first. With NIKE, that benefit could be around feeling confident from wearing apparel designed by a brand that delivers high performance.

When it come to who you are as brand, you also have a unique style when exercising your skills and living your life. This style is driven by your personality, principles, and philosophies. Ultimately, how you behave and act in your professional life leaves an emotional impression on others. Here are some questions to uncover the pillars of your personality.

  • What are the ways of working for which you want to be known? What is your approach when working with others? Being collaborative? Decisive? Measured?
  • What are your guiding principles? What personal values drive your career decisions, the type of products you market, the type of organisation with which you want to be associated? What beliefs do you have about how you should live your life and conduct your work.
  • What emotional temperament do you possess? Are you intense? Laid back? A fierce planner? How does your temperament affect others? For example, others may be instilled with confidence from knowing you’re dependable. Or they may feel trust from knowing you’re highly ethical.

4) What impact do you aspire to have?

Brands often talk about Brand Promise, a commitment to deliver value in a way to meet the expectations consumers have of that brand. Sometimes this manifests as a Brand Mission or a Brand Purpose. Whatever you call it, this higher purpose is an extension of a product’s positioning, something the brand wants to be known for, and often something about which brand loyalists are most passionate. For example, Virgin’s brand promise is “to embrace the human spirit and let it fly.” Coca-Cola’s “to inspire moments of optimism and happiness.”

This concept of a Brand Promise can and should come into play when defining your own personal brand. Having a strong personal brand means understanding precisely what impact you want to have on others—the lasting memory you want colleagues to have of you long after you’ve moved onto another role. It means being clear with yourself and your colleagues what unique legacy you aspire to leave. Having a strong personal brand allows you to earn a very specific, enduring reputation. Here are some questions to get you started in understanding your own brand promise.

  • Beyond your performance KPIs, what’s your true mission in your role?
  • Beyond your current role, what lasting impact do you desire to create in your broader career?
  • In what way can your professional career fuel your life purpose and vice versa?

Big questions, I realise. And not always the easiest to answer. If you get stuck, talking them through with a friend, a family member, or trusted mentor can be helpful. The upside of defining your personal brand is clarity and purpose. Once you become clearer on the tenants of who you are—the characteristics, skills, personality, and purpose that compose your unique identity—your personal brand can serve as an authoritative compass for your career and your life. Just like consumer brands, everything you choose to do will either strengthen or dilute your brand. And just like brands with clear identities, being clear and firm about your own personal brand enables more confidence, effectiveness, and success not only in your career, but also in your life as a whole.

What are some aspects of your personal brand that have helped guide you in your career and life? I'd love to hear from you on how you describe your own personal brand, which can hopefully provide some inspiration for others. Thanks in advance for sharing.

Joseph Liu is a Brand/Career Consultant, Speaker, and Founder of Ilumity Coaching. He specialises in helping professionals and business owners develop their brands and relaunch themselves during times of transition in their careers, organizations, and lives. He has a passion for combining branding and coaching to help reignite people’s careers, leveraging 10 years of international brand management & marketing experience on brands including Glad, Liquid-Plumr, Gü Puds, and Häagen-Dazs. Joseph has been a featured speaker at TEDx and MarketingWeek Live. He was awarded his Associate Certified Coach (ACC) credential from the International Coach Federation, MBA from the University of Michigan, Ross School of Business, and Bachelors of Arts in Psychology from Northwestern University.

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