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7 Steps to Creating Your Personal Brand

I’ve been participating in a young professional women’s group. Recently we discussed and worked through Lois Frankel’s Nice Girls ^Still Don’t Get The Corner Office. Frankel’s book offers an assessment to help identify areas the reader self-identifies as performing well and areas the reader self-identifies as needing improvement. One common area improvement amongst the group of women I was working with was Personal Branding. In truth, it was my lowest scoring area. I wasn’t even sure what my brand was let alone how to market it. So I gave it some thought and did some research. It is an on-going process, because personal branding takes time. Here are some key steps that I found helpful.

1. Take Ownership

First, I affirmed in myself that I’m in charge of my own brand; therefor it’s crucial to figure out what it is, and how to communicate it consistently.

2. Create a Definition

To do this I needed a good working definition for a personal brand. In her book Frankel shares Peter Montoya’s definition, which I found clear and concise. He writes, “a personal brand is a promise of performance that creates expectations in its audience. Done well, it clearly communicates the values, personality, and abilities of the person behind it.” Further, a personal brand is the experience people have when engaging with you. It’s the benefits you commit to delivering, the promises you make and keep and the follow-up you provide after delivery. Your voice and appearance all help to form and present your brand, but they’re the packaging not the gift.

3. Capture Knowledge

To help hone my personal brand I relied on self-assessment. I used tools to evaluate my personality type, values, communication style, leadership style, interests, skills, strengths and talents. If you want to check out some of them for yourself try these:

4. Solicit Feedback

An important thing to keep in mind is that you bring with you into these assessments your personal beliefs about yourself and your strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes we can over-communicate and strength or weakness we believe we have in these types of assessments. To help get a clearer picture it is important to seek feedback from others. Key people include:
– Family members
– Co-workers
– Teachers
– Anyone you have worked for (manager, director, etc.)
– Anyone that has worked for you when you were a leader or manager
– Close friends
– Mentor
– Coach

When you ask for feedback provide people with similar categories from above: personality type, values, communication style, leadership style, interests, skills, strengths and talent. You may also want to ask them specific questions to help build a common language that you and others are using to communicate and brand you. Good questions here include:
– What three words or phrases would you use to describe me?
– Where do you see my top areas of potential?
– Which famous, historical or fictional person do I remind you of? (This was a great question I read out of a similar Huffington Post Article.)

5. Interpret Information

First, take time to do all the above steps and sit with the information. Really process what you are learning about yourself. Take the time to see how these things are playing out in your current life and take the time to imagine how they could help create the life you want. During the time you are processing you may begin to notice patterns and commonalities or reactions and habitual behaviors. The identification of this information is good. Now you can begin to pick out the information that you want in your brand. You can find themes, words, images and experiences that help to capture your values and personality as a promise.

6. Work your Words

Find exercises that help you to narrow, prioritize and decide on your personal brand.
– Elevator Speech
– Top 5 lists
– Who, What Why and How
o Audience/Market: Who are YOU wanting to serve?
o Talent: What do YOU want to do?
o Passion: Why are YOU doing it?
o Unique to you: How can YOU achieve it?
o Personal Brand Statement

7. Share Your Brand

Know that branding is a work in process. Don’t wait until it is perfect to put yourself out there. Allow yourself to be open to feedback and grow in the process. Once you feel comfortable though, share your message. When you begin to share who you are and what you have to offer you’ll notice shifts in your life. The clarity that comes with this work helps you make better choices for yourself. It is not all easy and doesn’t happen quickly. Find someone who can support you in this process and keep your chin up. Your brand is going to be AWESOME!

Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer.

Sabrina Delay is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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David B. Grinberg

Another interesting and thought-provoking post, Sabrina. I’d be curious to hear what my esteemed colleague Dannielle Blumenthal, PhD, thinks about this approach, as she is a well-known branding expert and has written extensively on this topic.

Dannielle Blumenthal

Nice. So you mentioned StrengthsFinder. It happens to be a wonderful tool. I really wasn’t in the mood to take yet another personality test but if you have the patience to go through it, it is stunningly accurate. My results were something like – leadership, adaptable, influencer, data collector, problem-solver. Which basically means that no matter where I go – these are the kinds of tasks I’ll tend to want to do.

It’s helpful to take these tests because, the truth is, you can’t always control what kind of job you get or what level you work at. But if you know your personality style, you also know where you will tend to be successful.

Myers-Briggs is also good. And don’t laugh, but astrology is also good as well, for knowing who you are.

One thing that did occur to me, was that people must think it takes a lot of time to “work on” your personal brand or that people who think this way are “egotistical.” It’s probably important to talk about both of these things.

It is true that working on your personal brand takes time. But if you think of it another way – this is really about searching for your identity. Has anyone seen that Google commercial where they show people graduating from school, etc. Link below.


I completely love this commercial. It’s all about enjoying the PROCESS of finding yourself. That is personal branding in a nutshell. Your identity – your journey – the meaning of life, growing and overcoming your illusions to get at the truth. That is something you have to do, whether you want to confront it or not, and yes it does take time but it’s what life is all about. The journey.

So on to the “egotistical” part. Well I don’t know what to say about that. Is it “egotistical” to clean yourself up in the morning and dress your best and do your best? Or is that a sign of health?

I was watching “The Devil Wears Prada” last night where everyone was bothering Anne Hathaway about her new look and her new self and frankly got a little bit pissed. She was GROWING in the new job. She was learning from Meryl Streep. The fancy outfits, the staying up all night, the worrying about every little aspect of how she presented herself – that effort was not egotistical, it was about trying to become great – to achieve something.

So while it is true that some people take it too far, and think only about themselves, that is not what personal branding is or should be about. Rather, it is about finding what it is that you uniquely contribute to the conversation, and then empowering yourself to do it.

Again great job here Sabrina and it’s great to be part of this community for many years and watch people like yourself grow, contribute and surpass the previous generations. You are the ones who are going to transform government and make it “all that it can be.”


Sabrina H. DeLay

Dannielle, thanks so much for your thoughtful and insightful comment. I really appreciate you addressing both the time aspect and the ego aspect. I thought both the google commercial and the Devil Wears Prada examples were great! Thanks for sharing 🙂