A Gander at Personal Branding

I am an intrinsic person, so although the search for the self is something I feel like I am constantly doing (should I use contractions in sentences, and how do they inspire my audience to perceive me? Data was actually programmed NOT to be capable of them… but his sister was…). BellSouth is having a seminar/talk next week to employee’s about Personal Branding. I find it interesting a BellSouth CEO is apparently hoping to encourage employee’s to stand out and define the “me” brand, the Me, Inc.

Co-workers have joked to me on occasion if I’m speaking at the event. It is merely happenstance that I purchased www.jessewarden.com to sell myself (the main motivation for the joke, I believe). When I was out of work competing for coding jobs against designers, I wanted to stand out. My portfolio sponsor in art school scorned my first portfolio designs for not showcasing me… there weren’t me, and I needed to sell myself. Those who accepted me were the people I wanted to work with. I figured the same approach would work for my website, so I developed a “brand”, the me brand. The Jester logo, the email signature for components, the Director comment (–) for my signature, the XL at the end of my call sign/nickname/alias, the dark burgundy reds both me and a desire to inspire the feelings associated with them, the crisp small fonts, the simple, angled layouts… all of that I think encompasses me. Some took active effort to think about, and reflect on. To think ahead of perception, and return value vs. another avenue of attitude. The speaking in complete, coherent sentences vs. splitting them up with a gregarious use of a poetic license not really earned, spiced with Ebonics and l33t. Some things I just felt were the right thing to do, while others were built upon miserable (well, perceived anyway) failures.

I never however considered any of the self marketing, the desire to sell myself, as branding. Branding wasn’t discussed much when I went to school, but then they didn’t have a BA degree with way more design orientated classes then either for the Multimedia degree. However, thankfully I’ve had the opportunity hang with some very talented and smart designers in my time, so it just naturally rubbed off in some of the understandings of branding, and of a brand in general. If you take a greed approach, or an artistic one, understanding what a brand is and represents suddenly becomes a lot clearer as to why they are around.

So, I figured I’d do some preliminary investigating of what Personal Branding was, or is. I found some great information over at thebrandchannel.com. There are a lot of great articles, which site sources, and appear to be written by qualified professionals of sorts. I’m linking to my favorite 2 that I read. They talk about the first article published Fast Company in like 1996 talking about Personal Brand, and the follow up articles, the facets, the pro’s and con’s, and the perceptions of what they really are. I really enjoyed the way in which one article said, basically, it’s knowing how you are perceived by others, informing them of what you stand for in such a way that they feel they’ve developed that perception on their own, thus negating the fight or flight response that they are being sold to. The other, the 3 C’s, talks about being clear about who and what you are, being consistent in those appearances, and being visible enough over time to build strength in those perceptions.

In talking to others about dealings with the Flash community, technology professionals, those in leadership positions, etc., it certainly gives me a different perspective in who I should be, and how I should communicate who I am. Some of that feels good, some is shameful and frustrating, but old people call that growing up I ‘spose.

At any rate, good reads and I’m hoping this prepares me for next Thursday’s meeting.

The Three C’s of Personal Branding

Me Incorporated: Your Own Magnetic Brand