In Authentic Leadership

In the age of social media we have access to an ever growing number of tools to express who we are. We can Tweet, Friend, DIGG, and Link-In with each other.  These tools are so prevalent they’ve become verbs! But have we stopped to think about the pronoun? You, Me, the person we’re trying to express?

Here are the first steps to define your personal brand, what I call “The Authentic Brand YOU”:

As a former Chief Marketing Officer of a $2 billion business and former P&G’er, I bring to personal branding some of the same principles that have been used to build some of the billion dollar megabrands I worked on. I recently presented at the American Marketing Association on the topic of personal branding and share my definition of personal branding and why it’s important.

Brand Definition

According to Wikipedia, a brand is the identity of a specific product, service or business.  As a brand marketer at Procter & Gamble, we used to describe brand positioning as a combination of 3 factors : 1) Benefit – What does the brand do uniquely well; 2) Reason To Believe: Why we should believe the brand does this well, and, 3) Brand Character – the values the brand represents.

Personal branding is a similar process. As I define it, The Authentic Brand: YOU is your unique essence and impact in the world. It’s a combination of the same 3 factors: 1) Purpose – value you provide to others that also energizes you, 2) Strengths – your innate talents, skills, passions that allow you to fulfill your purpose really well, 3) Character – the values that you live by. Click on the links to follow a step-by-step approach to discovering your personal brand.

Why is Branding Yourself Compelling?

In product marketing we brand to differentiate our offering and thus create value for ourselves and others. People are willing to pay a huge premium for Starbucks relative to brewing coffee at home. It is the differentiated branding and experience of Starbucks that creates value for the customer who is willing to part with extra cash for a cup of coffee.

The objective of personal branding is the same – to create value, for ourselves and others. According to Daniel Pink, we all live in a knowledge worker economy regardless of whether we work as entrepreneurs or in a corporate environment.  In the new flatter organizations of today and the future, the perceived value of an employee is based on their known expertise and contributions.  Are you clear on what your expertise is? Are you reflecting this in your everyday actions?

Our personal brand helps us strongly engage in the work that we do by aligning our brand with our work or team objectives. It helps us find the unique career path or work where we are inspired to make the greatest contributions. It helps us be more engaging and authentic leaders.

If this resonated for you, please comment, subscribe and share with others.

Additional Resources:

For a workshop on personal branding: The Authentic Brand: YOU

“How to Market Your Personal Brand”

To Unleash Employee Engagement – Make It Personal

This article was written by Henna Inam, executive coach, speaker, author.  She works with women to help them realize their potential to be authentic, transformational leaders. They create organizations that drive breakthroughs in innovation, growth, and engagement. Her corporate clients include Coca Cola, UPS, Nestle, J&J, and others who know female leadership talent is good for business. To accelerate your own growth connect with her here. Connect on Twitter @hennainam

Showing 11 comments
  • Victoria

    Thank you for this post. I have been in the workforce for over 20 years and successful in the several positions I have held. My last company (French firm in financial markets) eliminated my position along with many others in the lower upper management strata, preferring to believe that any programmer could perform any IT task and that they should report directly to C-level execs. I realize that I could not have prevented these biases regardless of the significant contributions I made to the bottom line.

    All of that puts me in a position to determine (once again) my brand, although I had not ever thought of myself as one. Thank you very much for helping me clarify the requirements to determine that brand, now that I have to seek employment as such.



    • henna

      Thanks for your comment Victoria. Stay focused on your strengths as part of your personal brand. Honing your strengths will bring you greater success than “fixing” your weaknesses. And good luck on your journey.


  • Shradha Wakharkar

    Hi Henna,

    I read your article I liked it a lot. Can you please elaborate on how to brand our-self?

    as I understand there is a thin line between being arrogant, or have superlative complex and brand your self.

    How not to cross that line and brand your self effectively?


    • Henna Inam

      Hi Shradha –

      Thank you for joining the conversation here. Creating an authentic personal brand is about getting clear about your leadership purpose (what excites you and makes your work meaningful for you), understanding your strengths, and also leading from your values. There is nothing arrogant in any of these. When you’re leading from your authentic self, in fact, the focus is on how you serve others with your talents – it is not about what you say to others about yourself. I hope this helps you. You can also read my book Wired for Authenticity to help you get greater clarity on your own leadership brand.

      My best to you in your leadership journey!

  • Internal Brand Consulting

    Well this is an amazing post and I have gathered a few points here

pingbacks / trackbacks

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Start typing and press Enter to search