I loved Borders bookstore. LOVED it. I would sit there for hours reading books and magazines. On the weekends, I would beg my friends and family to come hang out in the Borders Cafe while I talked their ear off about the latest trends in fashion magazines, or best selling book topics sprinkled throughout the store.
I got my love of print from my mother. She basically hoards interior design magazines and her collection of fashion magazines from the early 90s sparked my addiction to seventeen, Elle, InStyle, Essence, Ebony - the list goes on.
Anyway, I share this because one Saturday my mother and I were sitting at Border’s bookstore and I was telling her how I kept reading marketers on twitter talk about this thing called “personal branding” and why it was going to be really important in the future. This was about 6 years ago, just a few months after I finished my undergrad at Purdue University. So while she’s absorbing beautiful decor in an interior design mag, I tell my Mom, “I get it, I believe what they’re saying, but I’m still having a little trouble figuring out what I want my personal brand be”…
Without looking up from her magazine, she’s sort of laughs as she says, “What do you mean you don’t know what you want your personal brand to be? You already have a personal brand.” and I looked up shocked and said, “I do?” and she said “yessss!”
We went on to discuss the patterns in my daily life - I value manners and say please and thank you often. I’m outgoing and am never scared to speak in front of crowds or meet new people. I love jewelry and usually have to pause and take something off before walking out the door, lol. I love chocolate. I l don’t have a single favorite color, but many favorite colors. I love hosting parties and celebrations. I get excited easily. I love bringing people together. People talk to me. I’m reliable. My friends confide in me. I’m impatient. I’m a connector and am always spreading the word about individuals, products, services, and events I believe add value…
After she gave me that quick run down, and listed A TON of stuff (way more than what’s included above) everything just seemed to click. I had been building my personal brand from birth! When I give talks on personal branding now, I often tell folks “I got it from my momma” because I fully grasped the concept while speaking to her but also because I quite literally got it from her. Well, both her and my dad :) But I was born with the brand I still rock to this day.
So it annoys me when people think of themselves as a brand they just came up with out of thin air. Even if the personal brand you’re building is working for you right now, it may not always work if it isn’t in alignment with who you really are. Your personal brand should be a representation of the person you have always been, the person you are now, and the person you aim to evolve into. Instead of presenting something untrue, just be yourself.
My mom taught me what I know about personal branding. Apparently she had been grooming me from birth, but that’s a story for another day. Just know that everything you do - from the way you hold your fork, to the way you spend your money, it’s all a representation of you. Build your brand by first getting to know yourself. Embrace your authenticity and you’ll be able to accurately showcase your personal brand with the world.