Dusting off your Brand Box

How fresh is your personal brand box label?

I remember the day I first read Tom Peters’ ground-breaking article entitled, “The Brand Called You,” in Fast Company back in 1997. He wrote,

It’s this simple: You are a brand. You are in charge of your brand. There is no single path to success. And there is no one right way to create the brand called You. Except this: Start today. Or else.   –   Tom Peters

Along with millions of other self-improvers, I was inspired and scrambled to decide what my personal brand is and should be. I rushed to select key words and colors and descriptions that perfectly captured who I was and what I wanted to be known for in the world. I branded myself.

And I bought it.

In my little corner of the world, I began building a set of experiences that reinforced that personal brand. I had arrived. And the rest would take care of itself. Or so I thought. 

Within a few months I started to forget about this Me, Inc. company that was supposedly under my leadership. I had drifted to a nap of complacency at the head of the Me-E-O boardroom table. My mistake was that I thought this personal branding thing was a once-and-done kind of deal. I’d figured that since I had that glorious brainstorm after reading Tom’s article, I was forever well-branded. But as fast as my career was heating up, my personal brand was cooling off. I just didn’t take the time to revisit that brand and see if my original descriptors like “scrappy,” “eager,” and “full of pizzazz” still fit the image I wanted to project to the world. A few tought times and a lot of lessons later, I realized that while I was still scrappy, eager, and full of pizzazz, those weren’t the key features I was bringing to my little corner of the world.

It was about that time that Madonna was again making the news for her plucky ability to reinvent herself, just when her personal brand du jour was about to run its course. And this was the same year when an IBM computer beat World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov and Mike Tyson bit off some poor guy’s ear. I was not the only one who needed a brand overhaul.

In the spirit of the Material Girl’s reinvention and Darwinian adaptation, I started that branding brainstorm process all over again. New descriptors emerged. New ideas inspired. And a personal slogan even surfaced. I vowed to revisit the Me, Inc. company charter at least once a year, promising to keep a better sense of the relevance of my personal brand.

So, now I’m wondering…How’s your personal brand doing?

Wait, you haven’t unpacked that particular career box yet?  Or maybe, like me, you got started on developing your personal brand, but somehow your deadlines and lifelines took over the shelves in your career pantry. Maybe your personal brand box was relegated to the back of that closet, along with the inflatable exercise ball and the infomercial products that promised to bring nirvana.

Seriously. What ever happened to that brand called You? How does the label on your personal brand box read? Is the brand you show to the world reflective of where you are in your life and career now? Where you want to be? Is your brand sending the kind of messages you want people to receive? Or, perhaps the “best before” date on your personal brand box has long expired. Maybe it’s time for an image overhaul.

Consider this your reminder to check in on that brand of yours and reflect on how your company, “Me, Inc.” is doing.

You know how fire safety experts recommend that twice a year when we change our clocks for Daylight Savings, we also change the batteries in our Smoke Detectors? Well, I’m proposing that you make a pledge to yourself that twice per year, on that same day when you reset your clocks and reaffirm your fire protection, you dust off that brand box of yours. Remember…

We are CEOs of our own companies: Me, Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.  – Tom Peters

So if you’re brand could use a re-look, consider opening two boxes this next Daylight Savings change weekend – one to refresh your smoke alarm batteries and one refresh the brand called You.

2 thoughts on “Dusting off your Brand Box

  1. Hey Susan – I found you! Guess you’re not in Kansas anymore. 🙂 Would love to talk tech and development with you sometime – hello to Tom.

    Nice blog by the way!

    You can edit/delete above and publish this if you want:

    Susan – you are an inspiration, and while you may not be promoting scrappy anymore, I can’t imagine you ever being anything other than full of pizzaz.

    This blog got me thinking as well, thanks for putting it out there so I can see how I can refresh my Me,Inc. 🙂

    Thanks so much!


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