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How to define your personal brand


We all have one – but what is your personal brand? Jennifer Holloway explains the different facets of your personal brand.

I do a lot of workshops and presentations around the UK and at some point in every one I ask the audience this question: who here thinks they have a personal brand?

The show of hands varies from just me to, at the most, about 80% of the audience. But here’s the thing . . . every single person should have their hand up because every single person has a personal brand – and it’s the same for you. To understand why that’s true let me explain what it is that makes up a personal brand – the mix of things that come together to let people know what makes you you. The first element is:

"Your beliefs are what you hold to be important, the things that motivate you to do what you do."

Your values

Think about these as the your moral compass, the principles by which you live your life, the rules you use to define right and wrong. Your values form the foundations on which your personal brand is built. For one of my clients, his values centred around an overarching desire to be genuine and honest whilst still showing empathy to others. For another, her values were hard work and always striving to improve herself. Building on your values are . . .

Your beliefs

Your beliefs are what you hold to be important, the things that motivate you to do what you do, that drive you to succeed. It could be money, it could be status, it could be a wish to make a difference or (as in my case) a wish to be different. I had a client who felt you should always take responsibility and act as if someone is looking, even when they’re not. However, this was vastly different from another client’s belief that his purpose was to make money – for him and his company. Building on your beliefs is . . .

Your reputation

In a nutshell, your reputation is what you’re known for. Looking at this in more traditional marketing terms, you might call this your strapline (a personal version of John Lewis’s "Never knowingly undersold" or Nike’s "Just do it"). One client has the reputation for knowing what they want and meaning what they say. And I’ve generated a reputation as "The antidote to yes men" – saying what needs to be said and making things happen. The next layer of your brand is . . . 

Your behaviours

Your behaviours are everything you say and do and are an outward communication of your deeper values and beliefs. To decide what your behaviours are think about the three words you’d use to describe yourself. For example, words used by my clients for their own behaviours have been "trailblazing", "larger-than-life", "dynamic", "inspiring", "rebellious", "positive" and the list goes on.  Another facet of your personal brand is . . .

Your skills

Your skills are what you do well - your strengths, your natural talents, the things you excel at. This might be things for which you have certificates to prove your abilities, or more general skills.  For example, you could be incredibly organised, have attention to detail, come up with creative ideas or create harmony in teams.  Another way to think about your skills is to consider what others come to you for. When I worked in an office I became the "go to" person for writing copy because of my way with words and a love of language (plus a qualification in editing which helped). The last, but certainly not least, aspect of your brand is… 

Your image

Think of your image not just as how you look but how you sound too. Your image tells people a lot about you – so much so that if you were to stand still and not speak a word, people would still have plenty of clues about your brand. For instance, one director I worked with used his quirky cufflinks to show his individuality, while another added a large sports watch to his pinstripes to give a hint to the fact he believed in keeping fit and healthy.

Now that you know what makes up a personal brand, you can understand why we all have one – because we all have an image, skills, behaviours, reputation, beliefs and values. You may not have thought about what your personal brand is, but you definitely have one.

And when you consider the fact that "people buy people" you’ll understand why your personal brand is so important – because that’s what tells people what they get when they buy into you.

Jennifer Holloway is the founder of Spark and a personal brand coach working with business leaders in the north of England and London. Further information about personal branding can be found on her website and in her blogs at


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