The Advanced Curriculum

On Branding Yourself

When people buy your brand, they must know that they are getting something consistent, with known properties, that will live up to expectations again and again. That’s what your brand must promise.

To begin, think of yourself as a product, not unlike a specialty brand of detergent on a rack full of old stalwarts and forgettable off-brands.

What are those qualities that make up your personal brand and differentiate you from the generic hordes? Are you tough? Funny? Smart? Wise? Witty? Daring? Determined? Demented? Impatient with failure? Ambitious? Modest? Coy? Clever? Dangerous when cornered? Addicted to detail? Sloppy but brilliant? Bon vivant? Terrific friend? Horrific enemy? Fun at a party? A killer when a deal is on the table? Who are you?

Who is the target audience? Is it senior management? The folks in the field? The general public? One person in particular?

How does the product look? Smell? Taste? What’s it like to be with the product? Are there aspects of it that you want to stress or conceal? What are those? Do you get sharp and grouchy when criticized? Bitchy when hungry? A little too sure you’re right about everything? A tight sphincter when it comes to picking up a check? Problem with authority? None of these things are good. Think about how to stow them away for future use when you become a senior officer.

Select all other attributes you can put into action. A brand is all about what you do. Which of these personal attributes—plus or minus—should you build into the brand? The answer is: all of them.

Personal Attributes: Good Is Good and Bad Is Good

Beyond the few that you have targeted as wholly unacceptable until later, there are really no bad attributes. There are just the ones you possess, which make up the components of your brand.

Good attributes make for solid, straightforward positioning. “This is Barb. She works hard. She plays hard. She’s trustworthy and bright.” That’s Barb’s brand.

Bad attributes can be used to sell a different kind of product. “Don’t make Barb angry. She turns into a fucking monster.” Not a bad brand at all, particularly if it comes bundled with other things like intelligence, ruthlessness, and charm.


For further information on the lessons contained here, refer to The Curriculum: Everything You Need To Know To Be A Master of Business Arts.


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