The Complete A to Z Guide to Personal Branding



Would you add anything else to this comprehensive guide to branding by Placester?


Building Your Brand Mantra


This week, my students are working on their Visual Resumes.  One key piece of this visual resume is an identifying statement that helps them differentiate themselves from their competition.  A helpful way to do this is to create a brand mantra.

Chiara Ojeda introduced me to “The First Step To Building A Personal Brand” by Megan Marrs a few years ago.  Marrs says that to create a brand mantra, a person should determine their emotional appeal; determine a description; and determine a function before putting it all together (Source).  For example, Forbes wrote a piece on a legendary fashion icon and designer called “Coco Chanel: Personal Branding Legend.”  Author Simon Graj lists four traits that defined Chanel’s brand.  Read them here.

My students struggle with this idea of a brand mantra because they’re students – not yet professionals – and don’t have all of those answers to the big picture questions at this stage.  So today, I began looking for other articles to help them define their brand mantra.

First, I found an article in The New Yorker called “The Person versus Personal Branding: You Are What You Tweet.”  This insightful piece explains that we can learn personal branding tips from Facebook by “managing your presentation—your behavior, appearance, reputation, online persona—to stand out in your professional and personal lives” (Source).  Now this can be difficult for college students with Twitter streams ranting about an ex-boyfriend or Facebook pictures from last weekend’s kegger.  What I liked about the article was that The New Yorker gives us ways we can strive for WOW-ness.  Our social media, our online presence, everything we do should seek to WOW others – in a strong, professional, positive way.  To get that WOW-ness, the article teaches us, we can consider what we wear, how we shake hands, how your home looks, what charities we give back to, and others (Source).  Though it may sound superficial, the point is “you must collapse your personal and professional life into static, pixel-perfect unity […] Your entire personal life now factors into your employability. Your livelihood increasingly depends on being likeable and well-documented, and just like a branded product, your basic worth is assessed by the WOW-ness of its image” (Source).  What you post on Facebook, on Twitter, online anywhere is a forever-captured single snapshot in the big movie of who you are… and if your professional persona doesn’t align with your social media persona, your personal brand is in trouble.  I tell my students this, and they say “I know,” yet they don’t live by this advice as evidenced by their social media pages and profiles.

More practically, I found “Personal Branding For Dummies,” which proved perfect for sharing with my class this week.  This piece contained the building blocks for communicating a personal brand; how to create a promise of value; and how to reach your target market along with tips on how to spread brand awareness of your newly-created mantra online.

What great resources would you share with someone trying to create his or her brand mantra?

Links of the Week: 2013.11


The summer term begins tomorrow evening… and that means the end of reading for pleasure.  My new 20 pound textbook arrived in the mail earlier this week, and after browsing the first few chapters, I know I’m going to have to spend the next twelve weeks forcing myself to read.  Don’t you hate it when the fun is sucked out of reading?

Fortunately, blogs and websites give me short and sweet nuggets of information to carry with me throughout the week!  This week, I was happy to read about the new Duarte brand story as well as another important “stop boring your audience” reminder from Garr Reynolds…


Diandra Macias explains the Duarte brand story in “New Building, New Brand,” explaining that the idea for a whole new look came when the company moved into a new building.  Macias talks us through the process of how the logo was redesigned explaining color, font, and style, and she shares a 13-second video featuring the old and then new look.

“No excuse for boring an audience: Advice on giving technical presentations” by Garr Reynolds highlights the importance of an engaging message.  Reynolds highlights five books that focus on technical presentations specifically, and he points out an article from 1985 written by Jay H. Lehr.  “Let There Be Stoning!” is a terrific examination of public speaking and presentation, and a free copy is available online here.

Last, but not least, is Joshua Johnson’s “10 Tips for Designing Presentations That Don’t Suck.”  The article contains advice to help the novice slide designer create a more effective Keynote or PowerPoint.  My favorite advice was Tip #5: Watch Your Readability!  I’ve always wanted a more concrete way to tie in “shapes,” and “skinny bar”/”fat bar” will help me teach this to my students more effectively.

What great articles have you been reading this week?

Personal Brand “Mechanics” – An Interview with Garr Reynolds


In this video, Peter Sterlacci interviews Garr Reynolds on Presentation Zen and the personal brand Reynolds created:


The question and answer session can help you to brand yourself, to promote your brand, and to make sure people “get” your brand.  Reynolds suggests several techniques to boost your personal brand including 1) building a website with a specific focus and 2) constantly updating a website.  Did you know that Reynolds didn’t seek out a publisher for Presentation Zen?  Because of his website, publishers came to him!

The question Sterlacci asks at about the 6 minute mark is my favorite question of the entire interview.  He asks, “How does being a good presenter help promote someone’s personal brand?”

Reynolds’ answer is amazing.  He explains that he learned some great advice from Guy Kawasaki: give it away.  Reynolds says the medium he uses to give knowledge and information away is through presentation.  Through presentations, he grew his network and his community – which led to his business and the money he makes.

What were your favorite take-aways from Garr Reynolds’ interview?  How do you communicate your brand to an audience?

Links of the Week: Week of Nov 26 – Dec 2


Since I began teaching Entertainment Business and Music Business students, I’ve worked to connect public speaking and presentation skills to leadership ability.  Because of that, it’s important to me to tie in elements of branding, marketing, and networking into lessons so that students understand how to apply the concepts we’re learning in the business environment.  The links of the week are two pieces I am considering using in future class lessons.

Jeff Haden is one of my favorite authors on Inc’s “Leadership” section.  His most recent article is called “2 Simple Keys to Define Your Brand” is an interview with John Parham, President and Branding Director for a branding agency.  I loved Parham’s 2 main ideas.  First, he says, it’s more important to be clear than to be clever.  I think this is a concept I can tie to slide design first and then to branding second… When we think about effective visual communication (and branding is one important form of visual communication), we must focus on simplicity as opposed to cleverness.  Parham explains that “clarity is what matters most” (Source).  Again, in the realm of slide design, a limerick on each slide may be clever, but it won’t help an audience understand your main idea… Instead of gimmicks, we must focus on communicating our ideas in a clear, simple way.


Parham’s second main idea is that, from a branding standpoint, it is better to be different than to be better.  Knowing and communicating your niche helps you stand out, Parham says.  “By focusing, you can be different. Then you can establish the credentials to support that difference. And your difference can then extend to and reflect well on the rest of your products or services” (Source).  I love these ideas, and the interview is definitely a must-read for anyone interested in branding.


Our second “article” of the week is actually a video about networking.  “Become a Master Networker: 5 Quick Tips” is a must-watch for budding entrepreneurs.  Dave Kerpen, CEO of Likeable Media, and Scott Berger, founder of the Young Entrepreneurship Council, give five great tips for networking effectively.


Watch the short, three-minute video for a dynamic presentation by first Berger, then Kerpen, then a viewer of all five networking tips.

Do branding and networking play a role in your life?  Do you think it is important to study these concepts?

Currently Listening To: Brand of You Conference Call


My favorite David Crandall hosted a conference call this week called “How being YOU is great for business” alongside Srinivas Rao and guests Mayi Carles, Dyana Valentine, and design superstar Mars Dorian.  The topic of conversation was branding and the “brand of you.”  Listen to the conference call here, and check out the questions and discussion on Twitter using #BrandOfYou.

I just signed up to hear about future conference calls, and you can, too!

What did you learn from the conference call?