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Creating Your Personal Brand

What Matters Most to You: Values & Passions


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Tutti Taygerly

a year ago | 6 min read

When you hear the word “brand” do you think of websites and marketing materials? Or maybe Mad Men-style ad agencies creating campaigns for the Nikes and Coca-Colas of the world? Is there a whiff of something manufactured and inauthentic? A fake experience that’s purely created for advertising to get people to buy something?

The reality is that identifying your personal brand is a deeply energizing journey of introspection to focus on what matters most to you. Once you figure out your personal brand, you can choose to share it externally, or keep it as an internal touchstone for your leadership.

Many years ago, I worked as a brand strategist for a design agency, and through that process learned that most people are focused on the outcomes. Branding is typically done for a company and expressed with a concrete deliverable—a set of brand guidelines, a redesigned website, or a social media campaign. But actually, the core of branding is getting clear on who you are, the people you serve, and what you’re known for.

Let me share three examples to better contextualize where a personal brand (versus the brand for a business) comes into play:

  1. Celebrity / Creator / Influencer. This one likely makes the most sense. We can all understand how a celebrity-as-a-business has a personal brand whether it’s Oprah, Gwyneth Paltrow/Goop, or Michelle Obama. Beyond these celebrities, there are countless other creators or influencers who run their brands as their business.
  2. Startup Founder. After a startup has experienced some product/market fit and is looking to scale, the company may start investing in its own marketing department that develops the company brand. Yet frequently founders come to me asking how to develop their personal brand separate than the startup. While there’s an overlap between the startup and the founder, they are not the same thing. For many of us, businesses are less interesting than people. And it’s the story behind the businesses, the story of the founders that’s most interesting. People care about the founder’s story, whether it’s why she started the company, how the cofounders decided to work with each other, or how they came up with the company name.
  3. Regular Person. So now we come to you, a regular person who might work for someone else and you’re probably wondering why you need a personal brand. Your brand is important because it’s how other people view you in the world. It could be as frivolous as the content you post on twitter or instagram. And it could be as important as how you pull together your resume or CV. Whether you like it or not, you have a personal brand. So let’s be intentional about how to craft it.

What Matters Most to You: Values & Passions

Values are a set of principles or standard of behavior for what matters to you. They can be core ways that you’ve lived your life or they can be aspirational, how you want to live your life. Identifying your values helps set the core foundation for your personal brand.

My values are Adventure, Challenge/Change, Family, Freedom, and Dance in This Moment. The first 3 are core ways that I live my life and the last one, Dance in This Moment continues to be aspirational, to remind myself to slow down, play, be present, and trust the process. It’s a counterbalance to my go-go-go drive and need to make impact in the world.

In addition to values, another way to craft your personal brand is to identify your passions. You can ask yourself these questions:

  • What makes life worth living?
  • What activities get you in a state of flow?
  • What brings you joy?
  • What do you love to make?

For me, a peek into my passions includes surfing, reading, travel, being a foodie snob (the COVID-version involves my own baking) and cats. Most of these are a part of my personal brand, what other people know me for.

If you’re a person who is an entrepreneur or startup founder and want to build your personal brand as part of elevating your company brand, you’ve got to find a sustainable method to regularly post content, whether it’s photos/videos to social media or writing blog posts.

Most people find that sharing about your passions is the easiest way to post regularly. These passions humanize you, even if they seemingly have very little to do with the business.

Your Brand is Your People

A second path into your personal brand is the people you’re around. These are your friends, your colleagues, and your chosen family. It could also be leaders that you look up to, whether they’re celebrities, public figures, bosses at your work, or inspiring people from your lives.

The questions to ask yourself are:

  • What qualities matter to me about the people I spend time with?
  • What type of people do I click with? These can be people just like you or you may be attracted to them because of their differences.
  • What do I love about my friends?
  • Who are my friends at work? Why did I choose to spend the time with them?

If we look a layer deeper, and more into traditional brand strategy, your brand is the people you serve. For a business, it’s their customers or clients, and the strategic question is how does the business uniquely provide value for their customers.

For example, I support leaders in tech, both executives in the big corporations as well as startup CEOs and co-founders, to further develop their leadership. I use the design process to help them envision bigger goals & dreams for what they want to create most in work and life, and shift their mindset so they get out of their own way. I support them using many design tools, and we co-create experiments for them to try something different.

Your company likely has a good sense of its customers and the company’s unique value proposition, something only they can do to serve the customer. Yet, everyone serves people. As an individual ask yourself the questions: “Who can I serve?” and “How do I serve them?” For example, you might be a manager who:

  • is empathetic and supportive of your team
  • has standards and expectations for the highest quality work for customers
  • creates a safe space and hires an intentionally diverse team

How you serve the people around you is part of your brand. You can lead and serve people from any position. If you’re not a manager, you could serve people by:

  • mentoring new grads or people earlier in their career based on your experiences
  • blogging to share out tips & skills you’ve learned
  • volunteering for different initiatives at work

Both the people you spend your time with, and the people you serve are part of your personal brand.

Your Brand is What You’re Known for— At Work and Outside of Work

You can create your brand by identifying values & passions, and by intentionally choosing your people, however, some parts of your brand are out of your immediate control. How others view you—what you’re known for—is another part of your personal brand.

At work, think about what you’re known for. It’s both the hard skills of what you do—writing high quality code, creating compelling presentations, or blowing away your sales targets at the last minute—and the soft skills of how you are when you do these things. You could be known for directness, staying calm, being compassionate, or any possible type of mix.

Parts of your personal brand can be intentionally created by you, however, you need the feedback loop to understand how others in the world react to you. What they remember about you and their emotional impression of you is what you’ll be known for to them.

What you create vs what you’re known for can and should have an overlap, but it’s never 100%. Start honing in to the feedback by loop by asking the people around you what you’re known for. You can do this with colleagues at work, and with friends and family outside of work. You’ll get the most valuable information by asking a varied set of people who know you for different lengths of time and within different contexts.

Bottom-Line: Make Space to Craft Your Personal Brand

Your personal brand is how people view you in the world, so take the space to be intentional and think about what you’d like to be known for. Start with your values and passions. Think about who your people are. Do the research and ask others what you’re known for. These are all steps to start crafting your personal brand.

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