on the importance of personal branding

the other day i had a conversation about a new project with my friend, allentza. at one point during the conversation, i was explaining why i’m so interested in personal branding. she stopped me and said “have you written about this?” i said, “nope, but i will soon!” so here we are:

in my opinion, branding is the aesthetic manifestation of systems thinking.

however, many folks in (social) change circles feel like branding (and more acutely, marketing) is pretty skeezy. the perception is that branding creates positive spin in dishonest ways. it’s also typically framed as “this will bring in more money.”

of course, it may bring in more money (and other resources), but i have a different perspective on why it’s important.

for one, i think (unconfirmed) i have a stronger passion for personal branding than any other scale. developing personal brands doesn’t happen much because most individuals can’t pay branding firms the rates it would take for that work to make the firm money.

still, i think personal branding is only going to become more important.


because in order to contribute effectively to… well… anything… you have to know what you’re good at. the process of developing a brand, imo, is really about exploring core values, shaping them into an identity, and then experimenting with how to express that identity in the world.

so, in line with the snap assessments that i think we are all going to need, by understanding your brand, you are able to be clear about your skills and passions. this allows you to understand how to create value that helps you get your needs met. and i mean needs in the broadest sense (imo, people have many needs and money isn’t actually one of them [counter-cultural, i know, i know]. we use money to help us meet our needs [except for those of us that chase money for the sake of money], but money is a just convention and it’s not even always a helpful one).

ok, so the other big reason i believe personal branding is important is because having a clear brand helps you understand how to give to your community. and in a world that i think needs more and more generosity, i believe that knowing and then contributing what you’re good at can trigger cycles of giving that strengthen your community in ways that far surpass your own bottom line and make your community more resilient. and when you live in a resilient community, even when shit gets rough for you, your community is there to provide support.

so. yea. personal branding. into it.

ps - thanks, allentza, for the nudge to write about this!