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Making an Impact: Creating a Personal Brand that works for you

Personal Brand

Making an impact isn’t always easy. In this article, Philly Graham, Senior Learning & Development Consultant at =mc and accredited coach, explains how developing your personal brand can help.

What is personal branding?

Personal branding is “the process whereby people and their careers are marketed as brands.”

The concept of personal branding suggests that success can come partly from self-packaging and promotion – creating or re-creating yourself as an asset with a definable and desirable value.

Aspects of personal brand can relate to personality, knowledge or experience, dress, appearance, motivations, and even physique.

Why we need to make an impact 

Engaging with others, or trying to influence others, can be very challenging. However, being effective in this space is increasingly a key part of working life.

Whether you are a leader trying to get others on board with a new organisational change, or a fundraiser encouraging people to donate to your cause – the moments in which you can make real impact are like gold-dust. You need to make them count.

However, it can often feel like the challenges you come up against in these moments are not about your thinking but about you.

So how do you take control?

One way is to develop a personal brand – a brand that builds or reinforces the persona you need for the particular situation you face.

This is not about not being you, but instead about spending time considering the elements of you that will have the most impact in that setting.

To make the most of your presence and achieve the impact you want, you firstly need to decide who you are now, then who youwant to be or come across as and then finally find techniques for embodying this.


Who you are now 

Step 1: Begin by creating an accurate analysis of who you are.

A really useful tool for this is a personal SWOT. This is similar to an organisational, department or team SWOT, which you are probably already familiar with. Start by identifying your strengths. It is all too tempting to jump straight into weaknesses, but it is important when building your own confidence in you, to think of the things you do well first. There will be many things! Some questions to help prompt your thinking:

  • What am I good at?
  • What compliments do I receive?
  • Consider – skills, values, personality traits, qualities

It is sometimes helpful to think of the question, “If I was making a clone of myself, which bits would I keep?”

Next review your weaknesses

  • What am I not so good at?
  • What things do people want me to change?
  • What would I improve or do differently?

Ask yourself, “If I was making a clone of myself, which bits would I leave out?”

Now consider your opportunities and threats, which relate to the external landscape you find yourself in. This may include promotion possibilities, or opportunities to market yourself to those you are wishing to influence. Or identifying any threats of those who would not endorse you, or threats to your ability to take up your opportunities.

From this analysis identify:

  • the most significant strengths you can build on
  • the most challenging weaknesses you need to address
  • the most important opportunities to grasp
  • the significant threats to face up to and deal with

Use this analysis to help you decide who you are and what the possibilities are.

Step 2: Check your accuracy

Work out what others say about you. Ask friends or colleagues to check out your self-perception. Is it accurate? Getting feedback from others on what they think you bring, is invaluable data to know where you currently are.

Step 3: What does this mean for your Brand?

When looking your personal brand, use your SWOT to consider your A, B, C:

  • Ambition: what is your mission or ambition? Where do you see your career going? How do you want to add value?
  • Beliefs: what are your guiding beliefs or principles? What informs your action and approach? Why do you do what you do?
  • Competencies: what are you good at? What skills, abilities, and knowledge do you have – and what do you think you will need in the future?

Who you want to be or come across as?

 In order to develop the ‘right’ brand to influence the people vital to achieving your goals, ask yourself: ‘Does this analysis match how I want to come across?’

Step 4: Consider settings

One way to consider this, is by focusing on the particular settings you find yourself in. This could be:

  • a presentation to internal staff on the organisation’s strategic direction
  • a meeting with a major donor
  • a call with a potential new funding partner

For each of your settings, consider what impact you need to have and list three words that describe how you want to come across.

Do you need to be professional, knowledgeable and experienced or maybe enthusiastic, inspirational and approachable? 

How to embody your brand

Step 5: Demonstrate

Once you have listed three words, consider how you will demonstrate those attributes.

If you want to establish your experience, what facts and information will you need to share? If it’s important you’re inquisitive, what questions will you ask? Identifying how to demonstrate these words will help you prepare well and make the right impression.

The key to coming across the way you want to come across is not about embodying the same 3 words each time. Rather, making an impact comes from careful consideration of the particular brand you need to deliver, in order to influence in that particular setting.

The best personal branders are people who know who they are, but flex appropriately in different situations. This means preparation, focus and illuminating the parts of them which would have the best impact.

Step 6: Embody through communication

It’s not enough only to consider how you want to come across, you also need to think about the person you want to influence and how they like to be communicated with.

For example, fundraisers are often led to believe they need to be enthusiastic and energetic in their work, in order to convey the passion they have for their cause. But if the major donor or corporate partner prefers a more considered and calm communication this energy and enthusiasm is more likely to grate than be influential.

Likewise, some leaders may feel they need to be authoritative and visionary to bring their staff on board. In fact, at certain times, staff are looking for their leaders to be approachable and honest, especially during times of uncertainty and change.

The key in communicating your brand is to consider what the situation needs from you, and draw on your strengths to embody the right brand to achieve it.

What’s Next?

If you would like to discuss how we can help you or your teams could develop their impact, contact us online, or call +44 (0)20 7978 1516 and speak to one of our experienced learning and development consultants.

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Philly Graham

About Philly Graham

Philly specialises in communications, leadership and management development and personal effectiveness. She is an accredited coach, action learning set facilitator and a CIPD Learning and Development Associate. Philly’s career...