Defining your brand is critically important to your personal and business success. Beginning years ago with “The Brand Called You” by Tom Peters, the importance of defining and building your personal brand has been growing and is hitting a tremendous stride in 2009. Peters pioneered the idea that your brand is not the company you work for but rather who YOU are in that company.

These days, superior skills, great resources, and inside knowledge are merely prerequisites if we even hope to compete in today’s global marketplace. Rising above, standing out, and hitting your target has become more difficult than ever. It is very crowded out there and it’s said people receive literally thousands of branding messages every day from news media, movies, online, print, billboards, radio, TV, etc. Our personal brand – the words and phrases we want others to think of when they think of us – is all that’s left to differentiate us from the rest of the pack. Add to that the fact that people are now changing jobs and careers so often, and your personal brand has become more important than ever.

You first define and then communicate your brand with a clear strategy. For many, navigating that invisible line between clear and effective communication of your brand and offensive self-promotion is tricky. It’s important to be authentic and speak to your accomplishments. However, you will wear out your welcome if you try too hard, sell too much, speak too fast. On Broadway, it’s called flop sweat. You’re not sweating because of the bright, hot klieg lights. You’re sweating because you’re losing the audience – you know it, and they know it.

Develop a Compelling Brand Message

On the other hand, people will pay close attention to a strong and compelling message. They’ll ‘lean in’ to something that resonates with them. Since it’s the first of the year, take time to review your brand message:

  • Conduct a personal brand audit to determine your how your values and vision might have changed over the past year.
  • Define who you are by writing a list of words that describe who you are and what you do.
  • Review your online presence to ensure you’re maximizing the new tools available. When was the last time you Googled your name?

At the beginning of this year I wrote down the following words to describe what I’ve been doing for the past few years: I consult, teach, write, and speak. What’s changed in 2009 is my messaging strategy. My personal brand audit turned up an opportunity to ramp up my online presence significantly via social media tools. Social media is an outstanding communication channel and network builder for personal branding. My focus on my Twitter presence alone has already brought new clients and opportunities this year – a clear indication that the strategy is working.

Define your brand. Decide on a compelling message and audit your online visibility to make sure you’re maximizing social media tools and tactics. Update your Linked In profile and get on Twitter, if you’re not already there. Explore blogging, podcasting, Facebook and more to learn how you can expand your visibility online. Be authentic and consistent. Make sure 2009 is your year!


Beverly Macy is Managing Partner at Y&M Partners LLC in Beverly Hills. She also teaches a social media class at UCLA and is organizer of the Gravity Summit event at UCLA February 25, 2009.