Some thoughts on Personal Branding

Editor: Thanh Lâm

To begin, I want to say thank you for the RMIT Career Centre, firstly for the article about Fascinating Marketing on the Your Guide to Career Development publication. Thanks to this public appearance, many fresh RMITers came to say hi and expressed their interest in what I did. Nothing is more motivational than people showing appreciation and interest in what you work for and believe in. The second thank you is for the inspiration for this Blog Entry. Just recently, my friends suggested I should write something about Personal Branding, and he asked a very interesting question: Could personal branding be done in a short term? Should you change who you are to gain success, say, in an interview?

My answer is No. Personal branding is a long-term process. I strongly disagree when people are too excited about promoting the importance of “first impression” in a relationship. “First impression” only works for a short term, and is not enough to build a personal brand. The first moment a stranger meets you, they might draw conclusions (some shallow, some correct) about your face, body, voice and the overall appearance and manner. However, those impression, if insignificant, lasts very short and open to change. People will not stop judging and drawing conclusions, thus in a long term, time will reveal who you really are.

Think about the first impression you held when first met your best friend, boyfriend or girlfriend. Some impressions are utterly opposite. Some people are impressed as being strict and disciplined, while they are completely easy-going. Some men appear to be highly trustworthy, but time reveals they are just jerks.

Making things clear, I want to point out that both the first impression and long-term branding are equally important. But focusing too much on the first impression, or short-term branding, you will derail from the person who you reallly are. Why? Because building up a favorable “impression” often includes making up your image to a socially favorable image, which is sometimes different from who you are. Not only does it not contribute to your brand in a long future, but it also violates the principle of Branding: Consistency. When the discrepancy between your short-term and future image is too large, the level of personal trustworthiness is seriously undermined.

Take an example of an employee at work. In the interview, he successfully bragged about being a inspiration team leader while he is more of a hard-working team player. He passed the interview and received the job. Not for long, people will recognize the lie and no employers want a dishonest staff staying long in their companies. Short-term success creates a winning illusion, and you will not realize you lost more than you gained in a long term. (It is pretty much like being in the Casino. People just think they win, while in fact, the house always gets a better edge.)

To conclude, I would like to quote a very helpful advice from Shelly Lazarus, the former CEO at Ogily & Mather.

“I hate it when people talk about personal brand.  Those words imply that people need to adopt identities that are artificial and plastic and packaged, when what actually works is authenticity.”

Her words are all direct and simple. Successful personal branding is solely about living TRUE to YOURSELF.

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