Response to People Who Hate the Term “Personal Branding”

Brand Yourself AsPersonal BrandingReputation Management

I’m always surprised at the vehemence with which people say they hate the term “personal branding.”

“I’m not a brand, I’m a person!” they demand.

Except you are. As Kyle Lacy and I said in Branding Yourself, “A brand is an emotional response to the image or name of a particular company, product, or person.”

Basically, people have an emotional response to us, our work and our experiences, our relationships with them, and even our face. For good or bad, people like us or don’t like us, based on all of this stuff.

When they think of our name and our face, they have an emotional response.

But Seth Godin made a great statement about branding that may explain why it’s an important term to use:

I believe that “brand” is a stand-in, a euphemism, a shortcut for a whole bunch of expectations, worldview connections, experiences, and promises that a product or service makes, and these allow us to work our way through a world that has thirty thousand brands that we have to make decisions about every day.

In other words, when we use the term “personal brand,” we’re not talking about a corporate reputation, a logo, and a tagline. You can’t/shouldn’t reduce a person to a tagline and logo.

To paraphrase Seth Godin, “personal brand” is a euphemism, a shortcut for expectations people have of us, our network and personal connections, the experiences we offer, the promises we make, our reputation, and our accomplishments.

If we accept that the term “personal brand” is a shortcut word for all of those things, then maybe it becomes a little more acceptable to people.

Because I’m going to get tired of launching into that entire explanation.


Professional Blog ServiceBranding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself and No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing. His third book, The Owned Media Doctrine, will be available this summer.