Personal Branding from the Person’s Point of View

I could not let my new employer, Todd Defren, Principal at SHIFT Communications, post about personal branding without firing off a response from the “personal” side of the equation.

I have long been in agreement with the concept of “half-owned brands,” as Todd quotes Chris Brogan.

In fact, when I re-started this blog, it was with the simultaneous dichotomy and intertwining of personal and professional brand in mind. In fact, in a post last summer, I wrote:

I had been blogging at Tech PR Gems, the Topaz Partners PR blog, but several people, particularly Ed Lee, convinced me to re-start this blog for myself. Gischeleman’s blog (original name of this blog, and you’ll see I keep that name on the header) has started to find a voice in the ensuing months (I think), and it is fun to write. More than that, I like to use it as a lab: what gets traffic? what gets reaction? Can I use the blog to spread viral media? How do I attach this to network?

What I learned: Personal brand is important, no matter how tightly aligned you are with your organization or employer. Plus the more blog posts you write, the more your writing and thinking improves.

So, what about Todd’s list of responsibilities? First, the company:

Job #1 – Protect itself.
Job #2 – Get the hell outta the way.

Of course, it’s not that simple. But the idea of creating trust, and giving employees– those who want it- a little rope to explore their own public persona– is a good one. Those who would say that employees blogging, and being public about their affiliation, is irresponsible are being blind to reality. Should I not go to cocktail parties or other public events and let people know where I work? Phooey! And if my posts betray a lack of knowledge of my craft, then too bad for me– it’ll start to show up in my work as well, and I’ll be employed somewhere else before long.

Now, Todd’s responsibilities of the “person”:

Job #1 – Stay humble.
Job #2 – Boost the Company’s brand.

“Humble” is nothing but common sense. It does the company no good, and me less good, to become an egotistical ass-hat. Some ego is healthy– we call it Confidence– but yah, humble, ok sure.

Boosting the company’s brand- to me, I do that through my positive association. It’s not always overt– I hate being overly promotional of anything (yup, I’m in public relations). But I’m not going to cover up my affiliations, and I’m going to wave the SHIFT flag on occasion, without inflicting damage on others (unless they are being egotistical asshats).

To reiterate what I say so often- your brand and your employers are inseparable. Choosing where to work is a life choice, and you represent your company as much as your company represents you. Live with it, revel in it, and go forth and polish your personal brand.

One last thing: I object to being called a “rock star.” I played tuba in my high school marching band. If you saw this kid walking by, would you say “rock star?”

(Yes, I am wearing my band jacket in that photo. No, it no longer fits)

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  1. I just think it is very cool that Todd would follow you over to this “personal” space too. The so-called rules of employment, identification/affiliation, client-promotion and self-promotion might not be changing, but I think it is a great time to think about possible conflicts and potential benefits.

  2. I just started blogging without asking permission from the company. It was risky but now they all ask me for blogging advice. I think it is foolish to try to protect and build walls around an organization. We should all be trying to break down barriers between ourselves and others, especially our customers. Personal branding is everything.

  3. […] Doug Haslam is a great example of a personal brand that matters. He is not Internet famous for sheer popularity. His brand means something in the social media marketing world because he brings value to the table. I respect what he brings to SHIFT (see his take on personal brands here). […]

  4. Just seeing this now…how adorable were you? I was in the marching band, too (and jazz, and symphonic: tenor sax, clarinet, and oboe. Gotta love us band geeks!). I like your ideas about half-owned brands and the responsibilities thereof. I’m too often crossing lines since I am presently unaffiliated. It’s tricky, deciding how much “me” to put out there, and guessing at where the lines actually are. We’re all pioneering this, I suppose. Because the days of perceived privacy are gone, baby, gone.

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