Brand New You: A 12-Step Guide to Launching Your Personal Brand

May 1, 2018

When my barber Phil retired recently, I had to find someone new to cut my hair. So I called my brother Patrick and asked him the name of his barber.

“I go to Cedarvale Barber Shop,” Patrick said. “I see Al the barber. But I think you would like Ron, because he’s a bit more talkative.”

Well, that clinched it for me. I walked into the barbershop, introduced myself and said, “Ron, you’re my new barber.” He not only proved to be a good barber, but we had a pleasant chat about hockey. So I’ll be back to see him in a couple of months.

Whether you’re just beginning your career in public relations, communications or marketing, or you’ve been at it for 30 years, you ultimately become known to family, friends, colleagues and customers for what you do best. It’s your personal brand.

When I worked at a large law firm, I was known as “Steve, our marketing director.” During my time working for a large financial-services corporation, I would regularly hear, “Hi Steve, I hear you’re our PR guy. I need your help.”

The question isn’t whether you have a personal brand; it’s how you build your desired brand that will last a lifetime.

A brand is a tool that helps an owner communicate the identity of a product or service to someone (a consumer or another business) who has an unmet need. Through consistent, positive experiences, customers come to trust specific brands, making it easier and more efficient for them to select products or services in the future.

That’s how Phil became my barber for 10 years, until he retired. Likewise, building trust through their brands is why Ed has been my handyman for eight years, and Keith has been my tax guy for the last 20 years.

How can you start developing your personal brand?

Based on many interviews I’ve conducted over the years, here is a step-by-step process that will help you think through what you can offer the world:

1. List goals. Outline your goals for the next year, and then for the next three, five, 10, 20, 40 and 50 years. Include career goals as well as life goals, relationship goals, travel and financial goals.
If you’re in a long-term relationship, then have your partner write down their own goals as well. It’s important to work with your partner to achieve your goals together.

2. Determine values. List up to five values that define your approach to work and life. Consider values such as integrity, kindness, respect and courage, among others.

3. Explain how you will make key decisions.
State up to 10 key factors that will help you make decisions. Examples might include: “I need to live near water,” “I need to be near family,” “I need to live in a state/city that aligns with my political beliefs” or “I need to work for a company that is purpose-driven or does great things to improve humanity.”

4. Select attitude words. List up to seven words or phrases that describe how you want to approach the world. Some adjectives might include “bold,” “driven,” “sincere” or “futuristic.”

Reflect these words in the photos that you add to your social media profiles on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. Along with pictures of yourself, choose background images — your favorite landscapes, locations, technology — that communicate the ideas behind your attitude words.

5. Outline strengths. List everything you’re good at, but draw stars next to the five things you excel at, such as: writing, interviewing people, strategic planning, communicating during a crisis or event planning.

6. Define products or services. List what you’re selling. Whether I’m working for a corporation or serving clients via an agency, I’m selling my expertise in strategic communications, marketing and branding. What do you offer?

Write down what you’re selling or hope to sell during your career. The list might include media relations, investor relations, digital/SEO, speechwriting or social media. Think in terms of how the customer (your employer or client) buys.

7. Describe how you will improve the world. Write out what you want to do to make the world better. This list might include causes, politics or nonprofit organizations that you want to become involved in. In many cases, the causes will relate to activities you’re already passionate about, such as a hobby or an event that has made an impact on you.

8. Write a personal brand statement. Using what you’ve written in steps one through seven, compose a 250-word statement that describes who you are, who you’re destined to serve, your unique approach and what you’re passionate about. This statement is essential for expressing your brand in a résumé, a LinkedIn profile, on social media or in other communications.

9. Express your brand. Begin the process of expressing your brand by refreshing your social media pages with words and images that reflect your personal brand statement. Update your résumé.
Consider starting a blog or website to showcase your work, or your opinions and reflections about marketing and public relations.

10. Establish your expertise. Write articles on topics about which you have expertise and feel confident in sharing advice or insight. Publish them on LinkedIn or Medium.

Write blog posts for your local PRSA Chapter. In your social media posts, link to articles and videos by other people you respect. Write a book. Ask if you can speak at an upcoming PRSA Chapter meeting.

Whenever you write an article, give a talk or take part in a panel, share information that will help others do their jobs better. By offering something of value, you will attract more people to your brand.

11. Build a small group of mentors. Establish professional relationships with peers who will share their advice and insight with you about developing your career.

12. Leverage your network. Use LinkedIn to connect with everyone you know and meet throughout your career — friends, family, college classmates, co-workers, fellow PRSA members, professional contacts, prospective employers and others. But remember: Your LinkedIn connections are not your network.

Your network comprises the personal relationships that you develop with others, where exchanging valuable information and insights benefits both people, especially when done face-to-face. People do business with those they like, know and trust. 

PRSA members can listen to Stephen Dupont's on-demand webinar "How to Ignite (or Reignite) Your Career," for free on

Stephen Dupont, APR

Stephen Dupont, APR, is vice president of public relations and branded content for Pocket Hercules (, a brand-marketing firm based in Minneapolis. He blogs at Contact him at


Trena says:

This is a good read! As a young professional trying to build my brand I find this to be a precise and helpful guidance. Thank you so much for the insight.

May 1, 2018

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