Mighty Engine


When branding gets personal

I’ve been thinking about personal branding in preparing for a panel discussion on the same topic at the upcoming Pennsylvania Conference for Women.

Here’s my brilliant insight: personal branding isn’t all that much different from any other kind of branding. Done right, you’re promising, then delivering to an audience you care about, an experience. But instead of buying running shoes, you do this because you want people to hire you, order your book, or follow you on Twitter.

So what should your brand look like, sound like, feel like?

Like every artist who has to face their own self-portrait before moving on, or psychologist who has to come to terms with their own transference issues before helping others, each of us vested in personal branding should take a hard look at ourselves before expecting desired results from communicating it.

What’s at your core? What is it that you want projected that will unify people’s impressions of you? What of your person do you want to share with the public?

For most of us, this whatever-it-is is such a central, domineering and organizing force of who we are, it’s hard to think it could be different for others, but it is. Not all of us, for instance, are pushed so hard by a dream of a just society—as MLK was—that everything (and maybe everyone else) takes a back seat to this single-minded compulsion.

That comparable force for me has always been dreams of family, where dad and mom steal kisses and still hold hands, where the kids (the more, the better) rightfully feel they can be superstars, whatever way they choose to define their stardom. With no apologies, it’s the happily-ever-after of a good romantic comedy.

But I also know a big part of my family dreams is being the kind of mom who doesn’t see motherhood as an abnegation of selfhood, rather one and the same. Where running a successful business committed to helping changemakers and engineering meaningful impact is one of the best things I can do as a mom.

All of this is at the core of what constitutes my personal brand. What about you?

  • Heseung Song

    It should be, if authenticity matters to you. And if you find the performative lifestyle exhausting.