We’re All Toothpaste

Over the past several weeks there has been conflicting information regarding whether personal brand building is relevant to professional services professionals.

Forbes Magazine recently released an article outlining the PR Trends for 2018. The very first trend mentioned was personal branding. According to the article, companies will be looking beyond the C-Suite, encouraging and assisting the brand creation and management of their rank-and-file employees. This shift comes from companies seeing the benefit of having multiple marketing streams that lead back to the company mission.

Conversely, in a June 2017 interview with renowned Wharton psychology professor and best-selling author Adam Grant, Sheryl Sandberg discussed why the personal branding craze is overblown. In short, she feels that people are not products and should not consume their days with packaging themselves like toothpaste or bottled water. Instead, she stressed “having a voice” and “being authentic.”

With this conflicting information, what are you to think?

If you follow me on social media, you likely have a pretty good idea which argument I support. I believe creating and growing your brand is vital to raising your overall visibility. Furthermore, a favorable brand has been proven to help you get a better job, earn more money, and be viewed as a thought leader in your industry.

In addition, investing in your own personal brand or your employees’ has been shown to increase overall job satisfaction and higher retention rates. It has also been shown to increase overall staff creativity, improve career-pathing and self-awareness, and develop higher levels of peer collaboration.

I respect Ms. Sandberg greatly, but I believe she missed the mark. Building one’s brand and being authentic are not mutually exclusive. In fact, some of the most beloved personal brands were built by those who were being true to themselves.

I agree with Ms. Sandberg that we shouldn’t view ourselves as “packaged goods.” However, the strategy and process of getting one’s picture taken for magazines and public appearances isn’t any different than the packaging for toothpaste.

The reality is that in the online world we are continually marketing ourselves to potential employers, contacts, and even romantic partners. How we package ourselves and tell our story online is sometimes the only impression we get to make on others.

It’s important for everyone, regardless of career path, to understand what personal branding means and learn to either manage it for themselves or seek the resources of a professional to handle it on their behalf.


If you’d like to learn how to manage your personal brand yourself, join me on Thursday, September 14 at 5:00 pm in Alexandria, VA for my “Personal Brand Bootcamp.” Register today: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/personal-brand-bootcamp-tickets-36812930466

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