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Personal Branding is the New Black

How to get your image to work for you

The sooner you establish a personal brand, the better. If you don’t have one, or are working on one, or a little confused already, then this is for you and it’s not too late.

Today’s consumer-driven age makes anything and anyone available within a few computer clicks. The global economy is now local. While big name brands carry the most popularity among the masses, hyper-vigilant consumers who have embraced the web world know they can find exactly what they are looking for with enough time. This creates latent demand, so you just have to decide what to offer, make it available, do some online marketing and eventually, someone will want what you’ve got.

The same is true is the corporate-driven world, where W-2s reign and incentive packages are assembled to attract the ideal candidates. Resumes continue to be the measuring stick for many jobs, however a resume alone will not win the job, nor should it. We all know now that it’s the work done prior to writing the resume that counts. Besides, today a resume may not even be necessary to win the job. And, if you win the job, you may lose it quickly.

This consumer-driven passion has forced corporations to respond quickly, so they are looking for people that distinguish themselves, who specialize and stand out — which is a challenge when today’s technology is evolving every second.

Still, the internet will be around forever and it has created an unlimited ocean of professional and personal growth opportunity, perhaps best-suited for the internet entrepreneur. Regardless of who you are, you must carve out your plot of space. You’ve got to have a personal brand.

Whether you’re an established CEO, entrepreneur or job-seeker, being able to clearly and concisely represent your personal brand is the new black. And, it’s going to be that way a long time.

What is a “Personal Brand?”

A personal brand is your unique public persona which can be assembled online that represents who you are, what you’re really good at and even, what you believe. It’s your personality, your style, your signature that people remember, and ultimately, will pay for.

Often I refer to a personal brand as a platform or stage, where the invitation is open to perform in front of your audience.

A personal brand may be illustrated with logos, marks and photography. But personal brand must also be verbalized or read so it has long-lasting impact. If done well, the brand becomes the story that earns the top spot in the hierarchy within the consumer’s mind. In it’s simplest form, a personal brand may be represented with an online version of a resume, perhaps on and other “profiles” in the social media. But, it can become more elaborate, strategically positioning your brand to move the reader along to a purchase decision (customer acquisition).

The main challenge is noise. There’s so much of it, you may have to prove that you are who you really are and that you are unique. There may be hundreds or thousands of people espousing to have attributes just like yours.

The second primary challenge is within the nuance of building a personal brand. Because unfortunately, “just being yourself” can be too vague and doesn’t carry the same influence if you’re vying for a CEO position.

It may sound ironic, but your brand — or your story — means more than your personal identity and even your personality. So you might want to acquire the services of a talented writer.

Smart Strategic Segmentation

One exercise my firm outsources to Patti Larson’s team of web and marketing wizards in Laguna Hills, is an exhaustive strategic market and segmentation report that analyzes the players within the “space” your brand is playing in. From online research, she evaluates the various web-related strategies being used, wording and other elements that make the competitive brands’ positions. Then, a segment is defined and targeted with execution of a personal brand campaign, assuring differentiation from other brands.

There are nuances within every segment, and it’s a shifting target. Public sentiment can change on one bad report in the media. Plus, there is psychology behind every sound bite, color-choice, posture and pronunciation. With so much noice and nuance to building a personal brand, it’s important to gain expertise from key advisors from the marketing and public relations world.

Devil in the Delivery

Even with the right plans and intentions, however, a brand can fail upon delivery. Messages will not be received properly if they are distracted with other thoughts that filter out the nuances. Every word can ignite positive or negative reactions based on how well it is delivered. That’s why media training is invaluable to a CEO or spokesperson. Whether or not you think you have experience in front of the camera, never test your theory and put your brand at risk. Make sure you know what to say, how to say it (and what to look like if video is involved). To do this, my clients receive a media training package along with my partner Amy Hesser, a professional broadcast journalist with network credentials.

Prior to every interview with the media, we provide clients with background on the writer, subject matter, and timing. Then, we review the line of questioning and weaving in 3–5 key messages we want to deliver to that audience. Then, we have to prepare for some of the hard questions, in case they come up unexpectedly.

Your New Media Outlet

The social media has given anyone with a profile their own media outlet with growing distribution rates. News travels faster on Twitter than on CNN. Items are spotted on Instagram and bought on Spotify before you finish reading this paragraph. One client said whenever he wants to make money, he just posts a song on Facebook and then albums would sell. Social media is one of the most critical, yet elusive mediums to work with, especially building a personal brand. Not everyone needs a social media manager, but almost. My clients receive specialized attention from my social media team, led by Angie Yasulitis.

Whether you want to launch a brand or re-build a broken one, consider how the noise and nuances influence your present status, and design a plan to arrive at a desired future. Sounds simple, right?

David Jahr is a distinguished ghostwriter and public relations PR master promoting the mind, body and soul. He has helped write and/or launch 15 books, three New York Times best-sellers, and related websites. He has also received an ESPY Award nomination for “Most Inspirational Sports Story of the Year” by ESPN, and played a role in the NFL concussion and pain-killing lawsuit coverage, representing more than 3,500 retired players and a legal advisor in the case. David advises CEOs, doctors and entrepreneurs with media-related training and writing from his home in Santa Barbara.