My problem with personal branding

Here’s something I bet you didn’t know about me: I cringe every time I hear the words “personal branding.”

Wait. What?

Tom Peter’s manifesto, The Brand Called You was a paradigm-shifter when it hit the pages of Fast Company back in 1997.  

But that was then. This is now.

Let’s admit that the term is old. It’s dusty. Back then there was no such thing as an “online personality.” No hungry content beast to contend with.

If you search “personal branding” online, you’ll find one-size-fits-all packages that promise to create your “unique” or “authentic” brand story. 

But that defeats the purpose, right? If we’re all following the same playbook, using the same language to describe the personal branding process that is every bit as important today as it was all those years ago, what are we left with? A LinkedIn profile that no one will read. 

Don’t be wooed by generic advice and buzzwords. There’s nothing generic about who you are, what you stand for, and how you want to present yourself to the world.

I have no idea what we’ll end up calling it. 

But what I do know is that effective brand identities are built from the inside out. They’re organic and grow from the connective tissue that makes you who you are.

That means a deep dive, a willingness to throw the cards up in the air and do the work that crafting your own personal narrative takes, and that no off-the-shelf playbook can offer.