Get Really Personal with Your Personal Brand

Personal Branding

You might not be the offspring of Trump, Branson or Vanderbilt, but you do have a personal brand legacy. Consider your heritage: your parents, community, region, country, culture and ancestry. Pegging to your authentic underpinnings, which is your brand DNA, might be the platform you need right now, as you define the constellation of characteristics that sell you as a personal brand.

Of course, it helps if the name, brains and trust fund you inherit get you through Wharton without student loans and onto Trump National golf course with a really good tee time.

Just keep in mind: jealousy isn’t a strategy. You probably inherited better hair and a less bellicose manner (or just a better catch phrase than “you’re fired!”) than the Trump brood. Most star power personal brands come laded with such big baggage that legacy brands don’t really have a chance to shine on their own. The results may vary, but Jamie Spears’ fate is lot more common than Miley Cyrus.

Anderson Cooper has kept his family’s personal brand legacy pretty much a secret. He’s a Vanderbilt (robber baron and jeans queen) on the one side and the son of Wyatt Cooper (actor and writer) on the other. Anderson is kind of like Sprite. The world’s most popular lemon-lime beverage is the offspring of Coke, but you don’t see Sprite being marketed as a junior brand. However, both Anderson and Sprite appreciate their heritage, and have taken advantage of the lessons learned on their family brands’ climb up the ladder.

So, if you are the scion of a milkman and homemaker (me!), you might have to do more digging to find gold. What are you looking for? Great stories, the older the better. For example: how bravely did your family leave everything familiar to immigrate to where you now call home? Or how did they stay and defend the homestead while under siege? Who sacrificed so someone else could go to school? Who had talent like playing a musical instrument but never risked the farm to make it a career?

Stories of perseverance, pride, principles, and personalities that inspire you are what you need now. Open up a dialogue with purpose: appreciate the people who weren’t thinking about personal brands, because they had simpler, smaller dreams and maybe more formidable obstacles or opponents.

Ask the right questions and have patience when you sort through the meaning in the answers. Consider this your personal brand DNA mapping.

  1. Gather your old family photos and have the “what’s my heritage” talk with your folks.
  2. Listen for the stories of how your forebears overcame adversity, or failed to reach their potential.
  3. Decide if there are any dreams or lessons you’d like to build on.
  4. When it’s appropriate, reference these experiences in your job interviews, client calls and networking. Knowing where you came from is a component of the world’s most attractive quality: genuine self-confidence.