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Personal Brand

Posted on January 22, 2013 and read 2,439 times

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pierno Personal BrandAdam Pierno
Creative Director
Partners + Napier, Atlanta
Hunting the Spark

The phrase ‘Personal Brand’ has popped back up again and it makes me laugh. There are endless posts about developing your personal brand, maintaining your personal brand and how you should take your personal brand for walks twice a day so it doesn’t crap in the house when you go out.

I’m not interested in making fun of the phrase, or of people that have strategies for it. There’s nothing wrong with either. Personal Brands and the new complexity of perpetuating one reflect a change to communications in general. We can learn simple things about branding companies by looking at the ways people have successfully branded themselves.

When I got started, the phrase itself did not exist, but idea did. And essentially it meant having a tightly thought-out resumé and portfolio that not only demonstrated what you have done, but who you were as a professional and a person. I believe that’s still the goal behind the Personal Brand.

So now, as with all brands, there are hundreds of potential outlets to cover beyond the basics. Just the outlets and tools that you choose actually reflect the brand. Talking with a Digital Art Director who hasn’t put his portfolio together in a few years recently lead to a discussion about the strengths and weaknesses of the various portfolio platforms. He had been spending time on all the options and we had drawn conclusions about the types and styles of portfolios you’d be most likely to find on each. He was unsure which one to use, because he was unsure which one of those types he wanted to be seen as.

Many brands have woken up to this reality too, after the initial “We need to have a ____ page” mania of the mid 2000’s. People at the brands I work with seem much more willing to hear a point of view on how a new tool or platform aligns with their brand. And more importantly today, how it might advance their story. For individuals, this makes sense and is an ongoing challenge to master.

All of the platforms out there are fighting to display more and more of your story, hoping to be the one source to which you’ll refer people. For example, LinkedIn asks you to post your work there now, so it can be displayed as part of your profile. It makes sense, logically. But LinkedIn is not the place known for hosting or highlighting high-level creativity. To me, that’s off-brand for LinkedIn and therefore, it would send my brand in an odd direction to host my portfolio there. But LinkedIn is an undeniably powerful tool, and there is a part of my story that does make sense to share there. The point here is, you are responsible for choosing what part you share.

We have also made these choices when telling stories for our clients. This isn’t new. Choosing the right media to connect our most relevant audience to our most crucial relevant message. The ‘personal’ side of it means sorting through media options at a different sort of scale, but it seems that there are close to as many options for telling your own story as might make sense for most brand campaigns.

And in a brand campaign, we use tons of thought and are quite sophisticated in the ways we break stories into parts and choose the outlets which will best serve those individual parts to complete the campaign. It’s only just dawned on many of us that we can apply the same thinking to our own story.

The beauty of this, once you think it through for a few minutes, is that the skills necessary to tell these types of stories are familiar ones. They are the exact skills employed by creative people going back to big black cases choosing which giant laminated prints they added or subtracted to best represent who they were as creative professionals. The challenge hasn’t changed, the case is just much bigger.




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