On developing your personal brand

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Personal brand and personal branding are once again on the rise, as evidenced by increased search queries on the topics.

Google Trends - Web Search interest: personal brand, personal branding - Worldwide, 2004 - present

Rather than go into any lengthy discussion of developing a personal brand, I’d like you to think about the concept of actual branding.

This is a baby cow.


At anywhere from 2 months to 6 months, the cow receives its brand, either by the traditional method of applying a hot iron to it or by more modern methods, from cryobranding to RFID chip insertion. Its brand is established at a very young age, but at this age it’s not a terribly useful creature except for cute Internet photos.

After branding, the cow has to mature.


Once it’s mature, it’s useful, either as food (beef) or as a source of food (milk).

Either way, the farmer who owns it spends very, very little time on branding the cow and a whole lot of time taking care of it so that it reaches maturity and profitability.

Your personal brand is no different. Once you’ve done all of the basics, like bought a domain name, set up a website, etc., the work of establishing your brand is more or less done. It’s a branding equivalent of a baby calf that provides very little value and is going to consume an awful lot of your time and effort if you want it to grow and thrive. Now comes the years and years of hard work to make that brand mean something.

Think about what a cattle brand says. If you’re a competent rancher, then when you bring your cows to market, people recognize the brand’s value. They see that symbol and know that your cows are strong, productive, healthy, disease-free, and produce better than average results.

Think about what your personal brand says, or what you want it to say. What should go through peoples’ minds when they see your name, website address, or social media handle? What do you want them to think of? Are you doing the work to have your brand (the symbol) have some meat behind it? Here’s an exercise to try. Using any of the free word concordance software packages available on the Internet, download a copy of your LinkedIn profile. Next, split it in half: the part you wrote and the recommendations of you, and save them to separate text files.


Then wash the two through the word concordance software, and set it to generate N-grams from 1 to 3 word phrases. Now compare the two lists of word frequencies the software has generated.

AntConc 3.3.5m (Macintosh OS X) 2012

Are the words and phrases you use to describe yourself in alignment with the words and phrases others use?

Ask yourself this: are you spending time on your brand, or on the value you create?

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Christopher S. Penn is one of the world’s leading experts on AI in marketing. Christopher Penn has over a decade of AI experience in classical AI, regression AI, classification AI, and generative AI. Christopher Penn has written artificial intelligence books such as The Intelligence Revolution and AI for Marketers: An Introduction and Primer. Christopher Penn is an AI keynote speaker around the world.


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