Branding 101: How to discover your Personal Brand

Branding 101: How to discover your Personal Brand

One part celebrated TEDx-er, one part marketing guru, and one part all around great guy, Bobby Umar has over 20 years’ experience in leadership training and professional development through conferences, corporate events and numerous teaching positions. In this edition of Branding 101, Bobby gives you a step by step guide on how to discover your YOU factor. 


I have been talking about Personal Brand Leadership for several years now. It was a relatively obscure concept when I first proposed my ideas on it at the Impact National Conference in 2008. Now we hear it everywhere. It seems like every presentation and take on Personal Branding varies to some degree. However the key insights are the same.

1)    Personal Branding is about you being your own corporate brand

2)    Personal Branding can be and should be entirely owned by you

3)    Personal Branding is an ongoing process and evolves

4)    Personal Branding defines how you live and engage both personally and professionally 

“Great, but how do I figure it out?”

What most people don’t talk about is how to figure out what your personal brand is. Several months ago, I was sitting with a friend at Starbucks and she was telling me about her struggle to find the right brand for her website. So I asked her a few basic questions about herself first and within 30 minutes we had come up with a Personal Brand and a Personal Brand Statement. She looked up at me and said “Wow that was pretty cool….and pretty fast!” I agreed and thought to myself “How the heck did we just do that?” Since that time, I have done this for several people and even put together an experimental workshop on how to create your own Personal Brand. So here is the recipe for figuring it all out.

Step 1: Know Yourself

Self-Assessment is the key piece here. You need to analyze various aspects of who you are, how you behave, what motivates you and what you want to achieve. In particular you should look at:

a)    Personality type

b)    Values

c)     Interests

d)    Skills

e)    Experiences both memorable and noteworthy

It is critical here that you are completely and brutally honest with yourself. There are many tools out there to help figure some of the above things out. For example, with personality types I would suggest a combination of several tests like Meyers-Briggs, True Colours and Strengths Finder. Remember that these tests are just guidelines and they do not define you completely. For the rest you can make a large list, then break it down to your top 10 and then finally rank your top 5.

Step 2: Get Feedback

This takes your self-assessment further by getting feedback from real people. Often the way we assess ourselves is not the way others see us. I once did a test called the “Leadership Circle 360° Profile Assessment™”. The test specifically showed the gap between my assessment and others, which was very insightful. The quick and easy way is to get feedback from a broad range of people. This could and should include:

a)    Family members

b)    Co-workers

c)     Fellow students

d)    Teachers

e)    Anyone you have worked for (manager, director, etc.)

f)     Anyone that has worked for you when you were a leader or manager

g)    Close friends

Ask them to assess you in the categories mentioned in step 1. Then also ask them:

1)    What are some words or phrases you would use to describe me?

2)    What are my top 3 strengths and my top 2 development areas?

3)    Can you think of someone famous or historical that I remind you of?

Step 3: Extract commonalities

Now you have to look very carefully at the information you have. First, see if there are any particular words or themes that seem to stand out with your own assessment. Second, look at the feedback for words and themes that describe you. Third, check for any similarities between your assessment and the feedback. Last, look at your experiences and see which ones align best with the words and themes you have extracted.

From these commonalities you should be able to pick out certain threads within your stories or experiences. Determine what words, ideas and images stand out.

Step 4: Hone in on the key elements

Try to come up with a list of your top 5 brand elements. Then think about the following:

1)    What are you best at? (value)

2)    Who do you serve or wish to serve? (audience)

3)    How do you do it uniquely? (USP or Unique Selling Proposition)

Remember that it’s okay to revisit the previous steps if you want to dive deeper or want to refine or adjust.

Step 5: Develop a Personal Brand Statement

Now you are ready to attempt a Personal Brand Statement. I say ‘attempt’ because it’s not going to happen magically the first try. Just like Neo in the Matrix, his first attempt to do a super jump failed. Eventually you can craft a statement that says who are you, what you do and how you do it. This statement is the promise delivered to every person you meet.  This statement is the main thing that everyone knows about you or gets about you. This statement is likely a consistent piece that most people will agree on. Hopefully you can get something like this.

“Bobby Umar is a meaningful connector who nurtures people to discover their purpose and authentic journey and then help them achieve personal and professional leadership.”

Words can be a powerful expression. So too can a Personal Brand be a powerful beacon. But most of all, you can be a powerful leader. You just need to know who you are, know what you want and then go make that positive impact.

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With a background in Brand Marketing, Engineering and the Performing Arts, Bobby draws on his diverse 20-year career to lead Raeallan, a transformational training and speaking company. Thousands of people across Canada have experienced Bobby's teambuilding activities, keynote presentations and coaching. Major clients include TD Canada Trust, TELUS and Kraft, as well as McMaster, Ryerson and York universities. To read more about Bobby, check out the "Trailblazers" page.

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