Creating Who You Want To Be: Determining One’s Own Personal Brand – Part III

This post is part three of a three part series on personal branding. Part I defines what is a brand, Part II helps you identify your own personal brand, and this article shows you how to change your personal brand name and make it better.


We have established in parts I and II, that, just like products, people have brand names too. This is especially the case if you are trying to gain new clients and working to connect with them in person and online. Deciding to take control of your brand means giving yourself agency to convey to others exactly what you want them to think of you.

Tony Stark was the face of Stark Industries, known to the world as the master mind behind weapons of mass destruction, but he changed all that with the creation of Iron Man. Unlike Tony Stark, for some of us it is impossible to build a full metal, armored bodysuit intended to fight off evil villains to change the perspective the world has of your company (also, most of us don’t have a Pepper Pots dealing with crisis management). This doesn’t mean that the power isn’t in our hands to do something about your reputation. Put these five steps into action to create your “Iron Man” brand.

Be Honest. You already have natural qualities; there is no need for you to fabricate who you are to others for them to believe in you and your brand. Personal branding is all about highlighting the qualities that are true to you. You don’t have to fake your personality to create a powerful personal brand. The best way to create a true following is to leverage your already existing positive traits. Being honest about who you are is the only way that you can be open about the true foundation behind your company. For example, if you are an introvert you don’t have to pretend being an extrovert. Instead, highlight your superior listening skills or your compassion for your customers.

Make More Friends. If you want to work on or highlight certain personal qualities, find others who already personify them. For example, perhaps you are a graphic designer and want to build your brand around your attention to detail. In fact, you want your business to portray the same exact thing. The surest way to learn how to do that is to find people who already have a well-established personal brand around the same idea and be a “grasshopper”. Become a student of their craft and make observations on how they personify their brand. Sometimes your “brand models” might not even be aware of how they themselves carry their brand, but pay attention to the language they use, the platforms they choose to connect with people, the way they conduct themselves in public, how they interface with clients, and other ways they personify their brand. Once you understand their personal tools – create your own!

Make A Good First Impression Every Time. Making a good first impression isn’t something you can buy with money, and despite the attempts we make to present ourselves professionally to the world using online platforms and media, there is nothing that can replace the impact of a face-to-face meeting. As the facilitator of a business networking group in New York, I get to work with successful industry leaders and meet new highly successful professionals every month. Even though meeting very impressive c-level professionals can be nerve wrecking sometimes, there are a few things I always remember: maintain a firm handshake, stand tall, speak clearly, and always smile. Being a friendly person is key. Take every opportunity you get to make the best first impression you can, you’ll be an expert at meeting new people in no time!

Nail Down Your Pitch. One sure way of letting people know who you are is by telling them. People won’t always remember everything about you or what you say, but if you package yourself nicely for them, they will remember you better. Prepare a 90 second “bit” on who you are, what you do, and what you’re looking for.

My Pitch: “Hi, I’m Michelle Vallejo, creator and founder of Marketing Like A Millennial. Marketing Like A Millennial is a growing resource database of information for brands and concepts wanting to take a fearless, relationship-based approach to business development, personal branding, and digital public relations. I am looking to make connections with small businesses, startup companies, and passion driven concepts around the world.”

Never Stop Growing. Creating and improving your personal brand is a lifetime affair. No matter what your personal brand is, keep it going, make it lively, and have fun exploring ways to highlight the strengths of your personal brand to enhance it. Most importantly, never give up and always believe in yourself.

Do you have a question about where to go from here? Need to reassess your branding strategy but aren’t sure where to start? Feel free to get in touch with Marketing Like A Millennial today, or ask Michelle a question on Twitter or Facebook and she’ll point you in the right direction.

Who Are You? Determining One’s Own Personal Brand – Part II

This post is part two of a three part series that gives you the information you need to create a cohesive personal brand. This article is meant to help you identify your own personal brand. The third part of this series will show you how to consciously adjust your brand as it grows.

business developmentEvery time you use a label to identify someone, such as “soccer player,” “hypocrite” or “techie,” you are referring to them by their brand name. At first glance, these categories are just labels, but a deeper look uncovers the brand these individuals have either consciously or unconsciously built for themselves. Also, keep in mind, for small or micro businesses, your personal brand is often the same as your business brand.

Are you aware of your own personal brand? Having trouble figuring out what people think of you? Try these three strategies to uncover something deeper about the perception the world has of you and your brand.

  • Face the music. Ask around. It is very hard for you to know how others view you without actually asking them what they think. If you want a soft-edged answer, ask your friends and colleagues what words they would use to describe you. If you want something a little more honest (read: less emotionally based), ask your employees. Ask these people what they think your strengths and weaknesses are and pay attention to the first few words they choose to describe you.

As an example: Josephine is a yoga instructor, a health and wellness coach, and starting her own lifestyle management company. Josephine does most of her work in a co-working space and asks one of her colleagues, Katrina, what she thinks about her. Katrina instantly responds, “Josephine you are very energetic and I love how dedicated you are to creating a holistic life brand.” The words “energetic”, “dedicated”, and “holistic” are “brand terms” that say something about Josephine’s personal

  • Know that you are unique. Identify your “specialty” skills. What skills do you have that are considered rare in your environment? Do you speak French or Mandarin where Spanish and English are most common? Are you the only one on your team that doesn’t have a minor panic attack at the thought of public speaking? These rare skills differentiate your brand from others. Seek them out and uncover them.
  • Be honest with yourself. Analyze your own strengths and weaknesses. Take some self-reflection time and journal for 15 minutes today. Use this exercise to list all of your traits. There is no right or wrong way to do this, just let a stream of consciousness flow out of you and write freely. At the end of the 15 minutes, you will find that a few traits really stand out, or maybe you have used different words to describe the same thing. For example—my list consisted of ambitious, opinionated, passionate, positive, driven, giving, responsible, and motivated. All these words point to the fact that I am a self-driven, hardworking person. “Self-driven” and “hardworking” are also the traits that I would like to stand out in my business.

Personal brand names, which often overlap with your business brand, are important to identify because your brand could actually be working against you and there is no way to know this otherwise. Also, you must know your brand first before making it better.

Now that you know what a brand is, and how to identify your own, in the next article you will learn how to adjust your brand to the best and truest depiction of you and your company.

Would you like to learn more about how to determine your own brand? Are you interested in speaking with Michelle directly on how to build a community of customers and followers online? Reach out to Marketing Like A Millennial on Facebook, tweet at us on Twitter, or send us an email and tell us more about your business!

What is in a Brand: Determining One’s Own Personal Brand – Part I

This post is part one of a three part series on personal branding. This article serves to define “branding,” part two and three will focus on how to define your own brand and how to tweak it as you further construct your public image and build your company.

digital prWhat comes to mind when you hear the name “Apple” or “Facebook” or even “Oprah?” Most of the time these words not only bring a specific person to mind but a specific image, whether it is a smart phone, or a room full of people being told that they are being gifted a new car (last year marked the 10 year anniversary of the stunt and it is still fresh in my mind!) These are some of the most trusted and well-recognized brands in their industry and this didn’t happen for them over night. These brands worked diligently to carefully construct what their users thought of them and to make sure that when their name is spoken something unique about them comes to mind.

A company’s success depends on how well they construct their brand name.

Before we start digging further into branding strategies lets first take a look at what a brand even is.

  • A brand is recognizable. When we hear it or see it we immediately recognize it! Those golden arches are recognizable all around the world, as is the Coca-Cola coke can. Humans are big animals of habit, when it comes to purchasing and consumption, familiarity doesn’t breed contempt, but rather preferability.
  • A brand is preferable. When we are given a choice, we go with the more famous brand. Name brand vs. generic brand products are always being put up to blind tasting showdowns to see who really is better, and unsurprisingly most people prefer the generic brand or can’t tell the difference between the products at all. A Coca-Cola vs. Pepsi study conducted by Pepsi a few years back turned out to be 51 for Pepsi and 44 for Coca-Cola during the blind test. Then they let the participants try the drinks with the labels on, this time it was 65 Coca-Cola, 23 Pepsi.

Coca-Cola reigns in popularity across many media channels, and has really been able to create storylines with their brand unlike Pepsi— just one example, think of the holiday commercial collection Coca-Cola must have by now. Be smart with your brand, make it a story, make it popular, make it reputable and you’ll see your brand make it closer to joining the “cool kids lunch table” for sure.

  • A brand is highly regarded. Just like the blind-taste tests of generic vs. brand name food, quality tests for products have been researched to determine what consumers really are buying and if they even know it. 20/20’s John Stossell, actually took matters into his own hands and in his book Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity, makes the conclusion that for the majority of the products that he researched, brand name quality is the same as the generic brand and most people don’t even have a clue.
  • A brand is dependable. Across America mothers and grandmothers pass down trade secrets to their daughters on how to raise children and what products to buy for them too. In their notes, we see brand names like Johnson & Johnson, Gerber, and Fisher Price. Brands get passed down from generation to generation because we trust our brand names and have come to depend on them over time. Of course some brands like Johnson & Johnson have a long history and that is a definite plus. There is a trust factor involved always. We like the idea of using the same brand that has worked for generations. We love to depend on it and feel safe using it.
  • A brand has extendibility. We will trust a brand selling different products but just so long as it stays within its “domain.” Companies constantly need to worry about staying relevant and in attempts to broaden their reach they usually leverage their most valuable resources, their brand equity. Some big companies have launched some silly products as part of their brand extension attempts. This is unfortunate because over-extending your brand’s reach is always an expensive decision. We are willing to accept and buy new products from a company, as long as the new products fit the brand.

Some of my favorite mistake brand expansions include:

  • marketingLance Armstrong’s LiveStrong Mutual Funds
  • NASCAR Romance Novels
  • Cheetos-flavored Lip Balm
  • Bic Underwear
  • Harley-Davidson Cake Decorating Kit, and of course,
  • Hooters’ novice airline attempt, Hooters Air

It has been proven repeatedly that people love and trust what they find familiar and dependable. All strong companies have a brand name, a reputation to uphold, but this is not a surprise. What might be surprising to you is that you too are a brand.

You sell and market yourself everyday, whether it is picking out photos for your Facebook or dating app, asking the bank for a loan, or even just convincing your friend to do Mexican instead of Thai food tonight.

You have certain assets, certain weaknesses, and you must “sell” yourself based on your own personal brand all the time. Learning what a brand is, understanding that YOU ARE A BRAND TOO, and keeping in mind a few tricks will help position you to right where you want to be. My next two articles will give you the tools to do just that.

Article 2 and 3 of this series will focus on how to define your own brand and how to make adjustments to it as you grow and further develop.


Do you have a question about where to go from here? Need to reassess your branding strategy but aren’t sure where to start? Looking for someone to whip your online positioning and reputation into shape? Feel free to get in touch with Marketing Like A Millennial today, or ask Michelle a question on Twitter, and she’ll point you in the right direction.