3 Steps to Building Your Brand
3 Steps to Building Your Brand

Dorie Clark, world authority on helping people get their message out in a crowded marketplace, my wonderful friend and 100 Coach, shares with us three steps to building your brand in this week’s interview.

Dorie is recognized as a “branding expert” by the Associated Press. She is the author of Entrepreneurial You, Reinventing You, and Stand Out, and she is also an Adjunct Professor of Business Administration at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, a former presidential campaign spokeswoman and a frequent contributor to the Harvard Business Review and Forbes. Following is an excerpt from our interview.

Marshall: Dorie, you are a world’s authority at helping people get their message across in a very crowded marketplace. One thing that’s very important to me is the idea of personal brand. And, you know a lot about that! In just a couple minutes can you share some of your insights to our listeners on what they can do to build their own professional and personal brand?

Dorie: Absolutely, Marshall.

As we get into an increasingly globalized economy, it becomes much easier for companies to find someone who’s willing to do things more cheaply perhaps around the world, so the only defense against that for an individual or for a company for that matter, is to become known as being an expert in what they do. People are willing to pay more because they are going to you specifically because you are the expert. I wrote about this in my book, Reinventing You. And, it’s a three-step process to personal branding.

  1. The first step is getting clear on what your current brand is. When thinking of brand, a lot of people immediately ask themselves, “How do I create a brand?” But the truth is, you already have one. So, it’s getting a sense of what that brand is by canvassing your friends and colleagues and really understanding how you are perceived in the marketplace.
  2. The second step is to come up with a future vision for your brand. Where do you want to go and what skills or capabilities do you need to develop to get there? And then create an action plan towards that goal.
  3. The final step is what I call living out your brand. Oftentimes the discourse around reinvention, around personal branding, is this “one-and-done” phenomenon. But that’s not enough. We have to live our brands day-to-day, on a consistent basis, send that message in all the small steps we take along the way. This way you really get the message across in a way that lasts with other people.

Marshall: This is great! You know, I wrote a book with Sally Helgesen called How Women Rise. In our book, Sally came up with some really good thoughts.  For instance, with women specifically sometimes they have more of a challenge with self-promotion, with promoting their own brand. Do you have any specific thoughts on how to get over that kind of phobia towards self-promotion?

Dorie: Absolutely, and I think you’re exactly right. I know so many talented women, who have no problem talking up their friends, colleagues, or companies, but when it comes to themselves, it’s a challenge.

One thing that I like to suggest, which I wrote about in a Harvard Business Review article, is to avoid adjectives and to think about nouns.

For instance, rather than introducing themselves with adjectives, like “I’m the best expert in personal branding,” or “I’m the leading attorney in New York City,” both of which are of course subjective adjectives and could potentially be perceived as bragging, try sticking to nouns. Stick to things that you have objectively accomplished, whether it’s winning a particular award or a particular role you are in. For instance, “I am the SVP of Finance at XXX company.” Or, “I am the President of IP of the local Bar Association.” These things convey expertise. They show implicitly that you have the credentials and that you are relating facts, not just putting a self-promotional gloss on yourself.

Marshall: I love it! Thank you!