Personal Branding – Using a Blog to Create/Communicate Brand YOU

Nov 05

So, we know you’re a brand. We also know that when you’re looking for a job/internship, potential recruiters/companies will not really see you the way you think you are, but rather, the way YOUR BRAND is being communicated.

” Brand is the sum total of the emotions, thoughts, images, history and gossip that exists in the marketplace about a certain company/product/idea”

– Luke Sullivan
Group Creative Director @ GSD&M & author of “Hey Whipple, Squeeze This

We know that great brands stand for ONE and only ONE thing. The question then, is what’s the single most important thing you want/need to communicate about YOUR BRAND? (i.e. #6 in the creative brief below).

Filling out this personal creative brief will help you shape your resume, website, or any other piece of communication about yourself. Creative briefs can take different directions depending on the perceptual problem that needs to be solved. The challenge is to find the strongest problem/solution and focus on that one only.

Here are a few examples of perceptual problems:

  • In High-tech, employers are looking for people who master new technologies [which may lead to one branding themselves as internet gurus].
  • Ad agencies prefer hiring people who are not only knowledgeable and curious about a lot of different things, but are experts in finding information [which may lead to one branding themselves as information mavens].
  • Creative shops would rather hire someone who is not afraid of making mistakes [which may lead to one branding themselves as a smart-risk-taker].

Here’s a personal-branding creative brief that will help you figure out single most important thing you should communicate about yourself:

1. What is the perceptual problem you are trying to solve?
This is not a real problem (like the fact that they don’t know you yet) but a perceptual one – what do they think about the idea of hiring someone like you? What is their perception about potential candidates? What is the #1 personality trait or skill needed for this specific job? Who might be their best candidate and why?

2. Who are you talking to?
Not demographic but a real person with a real position/title in a real company. Not HR, but the person for whom the #1 above is the perceptual problem that needs to be solved. The more specific you are about who it is that you’re targeting, the more likely you are to communicate what they want to hear.

3. What do they currently think about you / the idea of someone like you / potential candidates? (current perception)

4. What do you want them to think of you / the idea of hiring someone like you? (desired future perception)

5. Who are your competitors? (other potential candidates) What are they like? What makes them unique/special? What are their advantages & disadvantages?

6. What’s the SINGLE most important idea you want/need to communicate about you?
Not three things. Not two. ONE single idea – the most important one. This idea should solve #1 on this brief (the perceptual problem).

7. What’s the best way to communicate this idea?
Not what media to use, but rather what strategy, tone of voice, feel, mood, etc. (not execution). Why?

8. How do you  know you’re right?
What evidence do you have that supports the above #1-#7? A good creative brief is not based of a gut-feeling or on your thought about what might they look for, it should be based on research. The more research you do about this job/position, about the target audience, about the competition, etc., the more insight & evidence you’ll have that your strategy is a smart one.

Here are a few great reads on personal / self-branding:

Fast Company: Me 2.0-the personal branding playbook

Fast Company: The Brand Called You (5 pages) 10 Tips for Writing A Remarkable Resumes

Harvard Business School’s One-Minute Elevator Pitch Builder Personal Branding 101: How to Discover and Create Your Brand Personal Branding 102: How to Communicate and Maintain Your Brand 5 Ways to Take Control of Your Personal Brand Today HOW TO: Build Your Personal Brand on Facebook 10 Ways Personal Branding Can Save You From Getting Fired HOW TO: Build Your Personal Brand on Twitter 25+ Ways to Manage Your Online Identity 100 (Really) Creative Business Cards The Art of Branding Yourself

Steve Pavlina on Personal Branding (and his survey results)

CNN: Me 2.0: Branding yourself online

Teaching Online Journalism: 10 tips for Journalists’ Personal brand

Additional Resources:

Seth Godin’s Blog

Here are a few great examples of blogs (not all personal blogs) with strong branding statement (both visually and content-wise):

The WorkAwesome brand: “Be awesome at work”:
Darren Rowse’s brand: “Professional Blogger”:
Demain J’arrête’s brand (French): “Dark Cartoonist”:
Tim Ferriss’s (The 4hour Work Week) brand: “Lifestyle Design”:
The Strip blog’s brand (German):
WebDesignDepot’s brand: “Smart Design Ideas”:
LifeHacker’s brand: “Efficiency”:
Vitaly Friedman / SmashingMagazine’s brand: “Smart Design”:
MusicCity brand: “Music Community”:
Manuel Romero’s brand: “Designer”:
The Swish Life Magazine’s brand: “Sophisticated Lifestyle”:
Mashable’s brand: “Social Media Experts”:

The WorkAwesome blog/brand communicates “Be awesome at work”

Darren Rowse‘s blog/brand communicates “Professional Blogger”

Demain J’arrête‘s blog/brand (French) communicates “Dark Cartoonist”

Tim Ferriss’s (The 4hour Work Week) blog/brand communicates “Lifestyle Design”

The Strip blog/brand (German) communicates “Cartoon Artist”

WebDesignDepot‘s blog/brand communicates “Smart Design Ideas”

LifeHacker‘s blog/brand communicates “Efficiency”

Vitaly Friedman’s SmashingMagazine blog/brand communicates “Smart Design”

The MusicCity blog/brand communicates “Music Community”

Manuel Romero‘s blog/brand communicates “Designer”

The Swish Life Magazine‘s blog/brand communicates “Sophisticated Lifestyle”

Mashable blog/brand communicates “Social Media Experts”


  1. Very crisp and clear. Makes the branding process more efficient.

  2. Assaf,
    Thank you for writing this article. You have confirmed so many things in such a short time. Personal branding is ‘everything’ in business. Especially the part where you mentioned ‘knowing yourself’ and knowing your competition and your unique selling proposition. Afterall, you are your own brand. What sets me apart from the #1 competitor? Like you stated…only research will give me the answers to compete in todays marketplace. Guessing at it or trial and error are the luxuries we cannot afford. Factual research has been the one thing that has brought real results in our marketing. Especially in the areas of keyword research, we have seen the most significant shifts in income and customer conversions, by changing a few WORDS as the result of research. Thank you again for suggesting deeper research. Now, we will focus on identifying exactly what message it is we are trying to convey to our market…what is the real perceptual problem. For now, it will be back to the drawing board and make a list and reduce it down to a ‘laser focus’.

    Thanks again. Please keep writing.

  3. I came across your site today through a LinkedIn connection and I like what I’m reading. This fall, I’ve been involved in a personal branding project of my own with the launch of my blog Our sites seemed to be kindred spirits. You’ve given me more to think about with my personal growth. I will continue to read and recommend you on my blog roll. Thank you.

    Clif Simmons

  4. I found your graph on Pintrest. Writing on the topic of personal branding in my blog. Do you mind if I use the graph. If not just let me know and I will take it down. I will link the photo to your page.


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