BACK TO BASICS #1: What is a personal brand?

Having done a number of blogs about personal brand it suddenly struck me I’d never done one about what a personal brand actually is (I should have learnt by now not to ‘ass’ ‘u’ ‘me’ people can read my mind)!

So in the first of my Back to Basics series, here’s a brief overview of what I think makes up your personal brand:

Your Values – the principles by which you live your life, the rules you use to define right and wrong.  Think of these as the foundations on which your personal brand is built.  For one of my clients, his values centred around an overarching desire to be genuine and honest whilst still showing empathy to others.

Your Beliefs – what you hold to be important to you, the things that motivate you to do what you do, that drive you to succeed.  It could be money, it could be fame, it could be a wish to make a difference.  So for instance, I had a client who felt you should always take responsibility and act as if someone is looking, even when they’re not.

Your Reputation – in a nutshell, what you’re known for.  Looking at this in more traditional marketing terms, you might call this your strapline.  I’ve generated a reputation as ‘The Antidote to Yes Men’ – saying what needs to be said and making things happen.

Your Behaviour  – what you say and do that is an outward communication of those deeper values and beliefs.  You could think about it as the three words they’d use to describe yourself.  Just some of the words used by my clients have been ‘trailblazing’, ‘larger-than-life’, ‘dynamic’, ‘inspiring’, ‘rebel’, ‘connector’…the list goes on.

Your Skills – your strengths, your natural talents, the things you excel at doing.  One way to think about this is to look at the things that others come to you for.  When I worked in an office I became the ‘go to’ person for writing copy because of my way with words and a love of language (plus a qualification in editing which helped!)

And last, but certainly not least…

Your Image – not just how you look but how you sound as well.  This tells people an awful lot about you and will usually tie back in to all the previous things.  For instance, one director I worked with used his quirky cufflinks to add a bit of individuality, while another added a large sports watch to his pinstripes to give a hint to the fact he was a keen cyclist.

To put all of that into context, I’ve created the Personal Brand Pyramid that shows how those layers come together (for those who ever sat through a class on sociology like I did, it might just remind you of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – remember that?)

And to carry on the Back to Basics series, in the next installment I’ll explore how we promote different layers of our personal brand at different times.  So feel free to subscribe to this blog so you don’t miss out!

If you’ve enjoyed these musings, don’t be shy…leave a comment!  And please help me to spread the word using the buttons below.  Or if you’d like to learn more, check out my other blogs and follow me on Twitter.  Or drop me an email at  Thank you!

Spark specialises in branding, but not for companies – for PEOPLE, helping clients to market themselves so they stand out from the crowd, building a reputation that enables them to be even more successful just by being themselves.   Spark delivers personal branding to executives and senior managers in Leeds, Harrogate, Skipton, York, Bradford, Wakefield and the Yorkshire area, as well as in London and other UK cities. The company was founded by Jennifer Holloway and her 15 years’ experience in PR coupled with several years as an executive coach means she delivers a service unlike any other. 


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