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Gini Dietrich

Four Steps to Create Your Personal Brand

By: Gini Dietrich | June 20, 2012 | 
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The discussion around personal branding seems to be one that happens a lot.

It used to be we’d get jobs, we’d grow our careers, maybe we’d work for two or three companies, then we’d retire.

Now we have to worry about our personal brands, just in case we decide to get a new job or start a business or, heck, change careers.

But why do you need to have a personal brand?

Is it to grow a business? Get a book deal? Get paid to speak? Get noticed for that big job you want? Get your first job out of school?

Whatever it is (and it works for all of these things), know what you’re setting out to do before you start.

A Quick Story

A couple of years after I started my business (Chicago-based integrated marketing communication firm, Arment Dietrich), I hired my first second in command.

She came from the corporate side, had a few more years experience than me, and knew how to manage people (I’m a great leader, but a terrible manager). She also is extremely intelligent.

I’ll never forget, after she’d been there for a few months, she said, “Why aren’t we branding this firm?”

My response, at the time, was, “Clients want us to do good work for them. I can’t imagine they’d appreciate our working on building a huge image for us instead of them.”

She just shook her head and said, “Clients pay attention to these things. They want to work with the firms that get a lot of attention.”

It took me a long time (two years, in fact) to understand what she was saying and to take her counsel to heart. It also took a terrible economy and some time on my hands to implement her advice.

What I discovered along the way is she was right. People want to work with people they perceive as successful and at the top of their careers.

Your Personal Brand

Just like we do when we’re researching a company, product, or service, people will Google you before they meet you in person. In fact, they’ll look at how you interact online and off before you’re invited in for a job interview or a new business pitch.

Why leave that reputation to chance?

The very first thing you want to do is create your personal mantra. This will be used in your Twitter profile, your blog bio, your Pinterest description, your LinkedIn bio, your Google+ description…it’ll be used everywhere you need a two or three sentence bio.

In order to figure out your personal mantra, you want to:

  1. Determine your emotional appeal. Do you want build a reputation for being funny and quirky like Erika Napoletano? Do you want to be known for your solid, metrics-driven insight like Jay Baer? Or perhaps you want to provide insights into real-time technology changes, Big Data, and advertising and marketing advances like Mitch Joel? Whatever it is, know why people like you in order to determine your emotional appeal.
  2. Create your description. Think about the industry you’re in or what tangible skills you have in order to create your description. Ask yourself: What field or industry am I in (or want to be in)? What are the words I use to talk about my work (one word descriptive adjectives)? Who is my target audience? Answers to these will help you figure out your description.
  3. Think about your function. Write down exactly what you do (or want to do). It might be something directly related to your career at this very second (graphics, writer, sales, financial planning, culinary arts) or it could be something more broad (creator, organizer, connector). Whatever it is, the following questions will help you determine your function: What service do I have to offer people? What do I do that is different than anyone else? What do I do that makes me stand out from the crowd?
  4. Put it all together. Now comes the hard part. How can you combine what you’ve written into two or three sentences? Once you’re able to do that, you have your personal mantra.

In some cases it will be phrases (see Geoff Livingston’s Twitter bio as an example) and, in others, it will be three complete sentences (see Danny Brown’s bio as an example).

No matter how you write it, your personal mantra will be used consistently across the web as you begin to build your brand. This is how people will begin to perceive you so take control and make it happen!

This first appeared on Peter Sterlacci’s blog as part of his 30x30x30 project.

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

89 comments
Chineseastrology
Chineseastrology

Since I'm in college, I feel like I have no idea what my personal brand is yet -and I also feel like that's okay, at least for now. But I only have one year left of college, so I suppose I'd better start planning out my brand strategy sooner rather than later..

RandyGreene
RandyGreene

I think it's also important to figure out WHY you do what you do - what is the real reason that you love your job? This creates a real, honest connection with people that they can relate to. 

Jason Fonceca
Jason Fonceca

Awesome stuff, Gini.  A great personal story and some very fantastic tips on how to get started on your personal brand.I teach people how to do this (but without telling them that's what I'm doing), and I love your focus on emotions.I'd add tip 5:5.  Leverage your quirks & flaws.

 

The mark of almost any good personal brand is that they've taken what some would consider a "disadvantage", accepted it, owned it, and used it as a selling point.

TonyBennett
TonyBennett

This is a very important topic Gini D. I was going to write a blog post about it but I'm just going to vent here instead. I'm going through a personal brand identity crisis. This roughly marks my first year in social media. I started with an idea of a business brand of social Genius. My logo was a white G on bright green box... Oh, and there was no website or actual business, just the idea. It quickly occurred to me that no one wanted to engage with a letter. Then the defining moment of my personal brand happened - I became a superhero!! Flash forward 6 months and now I don't know what the hell I'm doing. In the latter half of 2011, It was fun to see "how influential" I was. I had no content of my own to speak of but hey, I had a Klout score over 70 so I must be important. I've had a blog for 6 months now, that was rewarding, and still is when I actually write. It seems the first year was just "fitting in" and giving the people want. I almost feel that it's not even worth it anymore because I'm not getting anything out of it financially... Actually, it costs me since it takes away from income producing activity. But, it is worth it.. because while it hasn't amounted to anything yet, I've developed more meaningful relationships in the last year than I had in the past decade (maybe a stretch). I guess that's the heartbeat of social media when you get down to it.

Frank_Strong
Frank_Strong

Bluntly, Gini, I don't like the notion of personal branding.  It makes me a little bit ill.  My reasoning is part team-orientation and part economics that, "cooperation is best for everybody, but non-cooperation can be best for an individual. This temptation to defect can break even a highly profitable cooperation.”  

 

Admittedly, it's different when you have your own firm.  No issues there.  The first firm I worked for was run by someone you remind me of a lot.  She was high profile, opeds everywhere, slick print outs of those opeds were placed into marketing folders:  it mattered and it mattered a lot, no doubt. 

 

Still, as a team member, I find personal branding hard to swallow.  Perhaps because  I grew up in this profession when PR pros were behind the scene.  Our edict was "don't be the story."  In an agency, the client comes first.  In a corporation, the company comes first and so on.

 

The world has changed.  We write content.  We publish.  Our names go on much of this.  That's the nature of the business environment today.  Who else is going to do it? 

 

A few years ago, I struggle a lot with the idea that my personal reputation is becoming increasingly linked to my employer's.  But then I saw the opportunity to extend my personal reputation on the company's behalf and vice-versa.  In the mental struggle,  I've decided that the day I'm not happy with our philosophy, our approach, the day I stop believing in the product or the company's potential, that's the day I'll leave.  I'm incapable of faking the funk.  It's not in my DNA.  

 

No company is perfect, but I haven't had that inclination yet. In fact the deference they've offered to my long leave of absence has made me all the more loyal.  

 

That said, any name recognition gained should be a secondary effect.  The primary goal, the first purpose is to support the cause, company or organization to which we belong.  I believe that in my heart of hearts.  If we can't do that, if we can't put the team's needs above our own, then we are on the wrong team, have the wrong job or are in the wrong business. 

 

Personal branding in my view, leads to a high potential for compromising, in sheer economic terms, cooperation. 

Karl Gibson
Karl Gibson

Great, concise post with heart, @ginidietrich . Sometimes having some time on your hands is when the revelations come.

 

When I was job-hunting two years ago, I absolutely stepped up my digital profile on all of the platforms I cared about & knew I could maintain. I'd come from a magazine that was in turmoil and found in  interviews that no one really *knew* what I had done there for years - they knew I'd  helped manage a newsroom but they had no idea what an 'editorial business analyst' was. An interview at Warner Bros. (with an executive I'd stayed past deadline for years to help), when she asked me ,"So you answered phones, riiiiight?" was the catalyst that drove me over the edge to fix any professional misconceptions in my own sincere yet assured voice. I wasn't  a Hollywood spaz and branded myself with that professional distinction in tone: results, not chaos.

 

 Whether it's FB, LinkedIn, a blog, Twitter - there's a way to throw your hat into the ring successfully. Even my blog, which was a random, intimate niche blog helped and I got a lot of positive, private feedback. Branding yourself to the market you're in and contributing to (as you do in Chicago) with reliable confidence works wonders. You've earned it, so keep your eyes on the prize, as they say!

annedreshfield
annedreshfield

Since I'm in college, I feel like I have no idea what my personal brand is yet -- and I also feel like that's okay, at least for now. But I only have one year left of college, so I suppose I'd better start planning out my brand strategy sooner rather than later! ;) 

Todd Lyden
Todd Lyden

But Gert- "what if you are an a-hole?" (liberally stolen from Bill Cosby)

patmrhoads
patmrhoads

I love this topic. I had the good fortune of hearing two different people speak on this right after I was laid off from my job two years ago. It completely reshaped how I approached my job search, and I've continued to apply these principals to how I manage my online and offline identity ever since. Thanks for continuing to share with people the importance this can have on their lives, especially in the new job reality.

ShakirahDawud
ShakirahDawud

As small business owners much of the brand we create for our businesses must come from a personal place, but I find the idea of tying up whole identities with our businesses unrealistic, and not absolutely necessary for most of us.

 

So I have some issues with the extreme way personal branding is understood by the majority, but I really like the argument your second-in-command made for branding your business. It's the clincher, if you ask me. Your clients definitely want to be able to brag that you work for them. "Ever heard of Arment-Dietrich? 'Course you have... Only the top integrated marketers in, like, the world... Yeah, that's why our brand is tearing yours to pieces... (insert Mafia-don chuckle here)."

jessica ann
jessica ann

great post, Gini! how would you differentiate between the word that seems to be everywhere these days: authenticity - and building your brand? how do you know if/when you're being "too authentic" in a post and how do you draw the line between that and the personal brand, especially for a small company?

deskelf
deskelf

@lauraclick @ginidietrich it doesn't include Step Five: Call Laura.

HLeichsenring
HLeichsenring

Thank you Gini. Yes, Branding yourself is extremely important, not only for a company, but also for a one-man-show freelancer like me. Coca Cola, Apple and Co. are well known by everyone, but who knows "me". But it is important, that potential clients are knowing me.

 

kind regards from Germany

 

Hansjörg

ryancox
ryancox

One day @ginidietrich will feature me in a blog post. And on that day, I'm buying $1,245 worth of Power Ball tickets. | Flipping great post. Excellent points, and Gini knows how invested I am in this topic! 

Brent@Echelonseo.com
Brent@Echelonseo.com

Interesting and timely post Gini. This is something that I have been wondering about more lately. Where do you weigh in on the personal branding vs company branding? I would say that I am currently branding my company more than myself, but that seems to go against industry trends. I can definitely see the benefits of a stronger personal brand for speaking and writing (both of which I am interested in). If I start to change my branding focus, do I change my blog and social media accounts; start a 2nd blog, twitter account, etc, or somehow try to merge them?

gogrowgo
gogrowgo

Love #4. I like to think of it in terms of a tag line. My best advice is to sum up your tag line in 4 to 5 words. Great tips!

geoffliving
geoffliving

Even though I don't believe in personal branding, I do appreciate the good business tips you point out.  Thank you for including me.

KenMueller
KenMueller

This is something I've been thinking about a lot as I've been slowly working toward a bit of a re-branding or "pivot" with a bit of a new look on the web side of things. This is making me think a bit more as I try to balance the content portion of my work with finding a better "call to action" or at least making my services more accessible. 

 

This will be very helpful.

lauraclick
lauraclick

Good advice. So, here's the question - what's YOUR personal mantra? I mean, we can all guess or have our own perception of what your brand is, but I'd love to hear it from the horse's mouth!

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

Interesting post. This week is the big whoopdee do Ad Industry Awards in Cannes. I learned that even though 99.9999% of awards have NOTHING to do with clients selling more etc, awards are important. Clients want to work with brands who win awards even if the work they did in no way shape or form helped their clients. So being creative for the sake of spending client money to be creative in Advertising will bring you more money to spend and be creative with.

 

It is all about a brand's cache. We all know plenty of big names in Social Media who make a lot of money shoveling bullshit that never works but sounds amazing because it is catchy and has their name associated with it.

 

When I think of Arment Dietrich obviously cupcakes come to mind first and foremost.

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  1. […] inspiration from: Four Steps to Create Your Personal Brand | Spin Sucks by Gini Dietrich. Image credit: SpinSucks blog. Share […]

  2. […] media strategist.”  I think it’s narrow minded.  I think those that pin their personal mantra on social are selling themselves short.  Further, and I see this more and more, there are young […]

  3. […] Four Steps to Create Your Personal Brand – Spinsucks […]

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