Personal Branding is a narcissistic endeavor

by | May 1, 2024 | Newsletter

I got this challenge about personal branding in my inbox this week. 👇

“So dude, I’m challenging you to defend (personal) branding as not a totally narcissistic self-aggrandizing endeavor.”

It’s a great question. Many people think the same thing, myself included, at one point. But after a lot of research and interviewing numerous experts on personal branding, I now know:

👉 Personal branding has nothing to do with ego.
👉 Personal branding is the key to unlocking opportunities.

To understand why, let’s look at the two parts of “personal branding.”

  • A Personal Brand
    And Personal Branding


A Personal Brand


First, what is a brand?

In his book The Brand Gap, Marty Neumeier defines a brand this way.


A brand is a person’s gut feeling. Let’s test this out.

What do you think when you read the following?

  • Apple
  • Boeing
  • Microsoft
  • Donald Trump
  • Your coworker

As you read those names, you probably felt something – Happiness, anger, ambivalence, etc.

Those ‘feels’ you got represent, for you, that company or person’s brand.

Let’s try one more.

  • You.

The challenge with this one is you may have a feeling about yourself, but…

…does that feeling match what others feel when they see your name;

  • On a list for a promotion.
  • Read a piece of your content.
  • Or Watch you walk into a room.

Here’s a truth many brush off – Whether you recognize it or not, you have a brand.

It’s the gut feeling others – coworkers, bosses, clients, customers – have about you and the service you provide, whether as a founder or an employee.

Your personal brand is how those around you see you, view you, and categorize you.

Do you know how others view you?

How do they feel about you?

The mismatch between your view and their view of your brand can lead to problems for your business or career.

I was let go from my corporate job because of this mismatch.

Once you realize there’s a mismatch, the question becomes how you can control others’ “feelings” about you.

Most will want to:

  • Work more
  • Work harder
  • Be extra careful

But it won’t work.

The hard truth is that you can’t control others’ feelings, but you can shape perceptions by engaging in personal branding.


Personal Branding


What is personal branding?

I define it as the intentional act of telling the world who you are and how you add value.

Is it narcissistic to tell people about the value you provide?

I mean, if you don’t, who will?

In the book Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, the authors define positioning as the act of claiming a category in someone’s mind.

There’s that “someone else’s mind” thing again.

Combining my definition with Mr. Neumeier and the authors of Positioning, personal branding becomes:

The intentional act of strategically positioning who you are and how you add value in someone’s mind and feelings.

Personal branding, like business branding, involves strategically shaping others’ perceptions of you so that when they are ready to make a choice about things like…

  • A job promotion
  • Hiring an employee
  • Signing a business contract
  • Selecting someone for a project

…YOU are the person they think about. You become that gut feeling who owns a category in their mind-the one that pushes you up and your competitors away.

Personal branding shapes those moments when others think of a brand or a person (you) as the solution to a problem.

Without personal branding, it’s easy to become just another person sitting in a cubicle. Or in my case, just another headcount my boss felt he could do without.

So, is personal branding a narcissistic, self-aggrandizing endeavor?

The answer to that question depends on you. After all, it is personal.

As for me, I’d much rather have others know who I am and how I add value so they think of me when they need help with branding, messaging, or personal branding rather than have them think about my competitors.

Whenever you’re ready, here’s how I can help.

1 Brand Messaging OS:  Join over 100 founders and solopreneurs and create your own brand messaging operating system (BMOS) and bring clarity, focus, and alignment to your audience, message, and offer.

Imagine not worrying about what to say when asked, “What do you do?” Or not worrying about needing to get another job because your leads have dried up. If that sounds like something you need, the BMOS may be for you. Schedule a call, and let’s chat.


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