How Do You Create A Personal Brand Persona?

Ed Burghard

Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room

Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon

Have you ever tried to create an objective assessment of yourself? If you have, you know that under the best scenario it’s difficult because we tend to be blind to our real opportunities for development and often underestimate our strengths. So what do you do? In a previous post, I discussed how you could use quantitative assessment tools like the Meyers-Briggs tool to create a better understanding of your behavioral preferences. But these tools need to be balanced with qualitative input in order to give you a well-rounded snapshot of your current personal brand image.  This qualitative feedback needs to be integrated before you finalize your brand persona to ensure it is as realistic as possible. This post will tell you what you need to know to make sure you follow a reasonable process that will let you successfully collect qualitative feedback on yourself.

Easy Five-Step Process

If you’re looking for actionable feedback, the best process to ensure you end up with something that lets you create an accurate brand persona is by following these six-steps:

  • From the “List of Characteristics”, select the 5 words/phrases you feel sets you apart, describe your strengths, personality and communication style.  Use these words and the results of the quantitative assessment you took to create a first draft of your brand persona.
  • Interview 5-10 people you feel know you well and whom you feel can be both candid and insightful.  Have each select the 5 words/phrases from the list they feel best apply and ask for specific examples/reasons why.
  • Analyze the feedback you’ve obtained and look for common themes.  Find words/phrases that can help you define your core brand promise, and supporting words/phrases that can be supporting reasons to believe you can consistently deliver that promise.  Look for word/phrases that describe you as a person, these will inform your personal brand character.  Find words/phrases that explain how you think, process information and make choices; they will inform the reader about how you interact with the world.
  • Create a second draft of your brand persona using the insights you gained from the qualitative feedback.  Run it past the people you interviewed.  Do they agree?  Do you feel it captures the real you and what you want to be known for?
  • Finalize your brand persona and put it in a spot where you can refer to it often.  Take action by using your brand persona to guide your thinking about the projects you want to work on and how to behave when you are executing those projects.  Put your brand persona on an annual (or every two year) review/update cycle to ensure it continues to be a realistic mirror and source of inspiration.

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While not necessary, you can strengthen your understanding of this process by helping a close (and willing) colleague through it.  This simulates what I describe as Level 3 learning (study-apply-teach).  Every time I have ever taught somebody a new skill, I have always deepened my personal mastery. That is why I made leading Procter & Gamble’s Global Marketing Director training a key priority in my career.

Now that you know the process for obtaining qualitative feedback, you’re ready to move forward in creating a personal brand persona that can help you achieve your full personal potential.

My Experience

In case you were wondering, my own brand persona is described as “provocative professor”.  I have a natural inclination to raise controversial issues and ask challenging questions.  Once I discovered this tendency, I had to work on finding ways to do so that were viewed as constructive and not misinterpreted by Management as pessimistic.  Candidly, this was a genuine personal challenge.  I had to find the “fine line” to walk that allowed me to stay true to myself and have my input valued.  When you complete the exercise, you will likely find an insight about yourself that (like me) you will need to be proactive in addressing so your unique strength doesn’t get perceived as a negative.

DISCUSSION

Have you had experience with this (or a similar) process?  Have you authored a personal brand persona?  If yes, how has it impacted the decisions you’ve made about your personal development and career choices?

Leave a comment with your thoughts.

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