Building a personal brand – how to achieve a happy medium between being personal and professional

Catherine Sherwood  posted this discussion in the Channel of the Future group on Linkedin. The balance between personal and professional branding is a very hot  topic I like to share also here on the blog.

With 20+ years of marketing experience, I know that consistency – in messaging and with visual images – is important to brand building. I also know that – often – you are marketing to multiple audiences, so developing an overarching message that can speak to many is important. However, building a personal brand to support my consulting practice in an environment where I am also connecting with personal friends was a real challenge. How to strike that happy medium took some work.

IMAGE: In the social media, a photo needs to be your logo. I didn’t want a family photo cropped to fit the small square space allotted, but I also did not want an overly-posed business picture. I found a young photographer ( ) who used social media a lot himself and who was used to doing multiple shots for aspiring models and actors. He set up the lighting and told me to keep in a contained area, but we just talked, then he’d say “hey, look over here” and take some shots. At the end of an hour – there were lots of proofs to choose from.

WEB / BLOG DESIGN: I used WordPress ( ) so that I could combine my blog and my website and easily keep my site fresh and updated. I also like WordPress because there are a host of free plug-ins that let you provide links to your other social sites, embed your Twitter feed, embed slide shows from SildeShare, and let others share your blog posts, etc. I worked with a designer ( ) to create a warm, open, but professional look. I chose a vibrant color palette and bought a nice image to provide some interest. For me, the guiding principle was making sure that my site was not overdesigned, but that basic graphic design rules were followed and that it didn’t look “home made”.

SPREADING THE MESSAGE: Once my website was up, I went to every site that had my profile and an image of me and updated the photo and made my bio as consistent as possible.(There were more sites than I had realized!) For sites that were primarily personal, I added some of my interests in addition to my professional description. I also used to build a background for my Twitter account. It was very quick and easy. I then Tweeted about my new site, posted to Facebook. created a Status Update on LinkedIn, and continue to publicly thank those that helped me

I’d like to hear from others about what they have done to create that balance between the personal and professional.


2 Replies to “Building a personal brand – how to achieve a happy medium between being personal and professional”

  1. Marita,

    The information that Catherine posted is definitely on point.

    I have recently completed an exercise similar to what is described here, at least as it pertains to synchronizing my network profile messaging across all sites that I am a member.

    Nothing is worse than a disjointed message. :)

    Because of this branding effort, I am able to show consistency in Google and Bing searches that include my name.

    It takes a lot of work, initially, but becomes easy to maintain if you keep track of where everything is, and work with an actual plan.

    Providing Competitive Advantage through Effective IT Leadership

  2. Thanks Andrew for your feedback – cannot agree more. I am in charge of reporting and analytics in SOMA and special if your name is a very common name I got overwhelmed with findings and disjointed messages. I asked all our team members to sign and comment on blogs, forums …, with their unique xeesm account name – which make my life now so much easier.

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