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THE 7 PILLARS OF SUCCESSFUL BRANDING: Pillar #1 Deciding Who You Really Are

Who are you?

Before you can start branding yourself you first need a studied sense of who you are. It’s the core for all communications – business, career and interpersonal.

In answering the question, consider your strengths, interests, skills and needs. Sounds simple but may be surprisingly difficult. That’s why, as you may know, there are a number of personality assessments you can take to help, like: The MBTI - Myers Briggs Type Indicator, DiSC and my current favorite The Book of YOU which incorporates the Birkman test.

The reason I mention these tools is that while most people can tell you about their interests, they are not great at knowing their own strengths and needs. Having an instrument that can help you see yourself from an outside perspective helps create a foundation for self knowledge but also a basis for communicating about yourself, your company and your Personal and Corporate Brands.

I’m going to describe a couple of exercises you can try for a clearer mirror to see yourself.

[You can do this for your personal brand or your company]

These tools work better when you record them so you can go back and listen.

Here’s the first. It’s one question I want you to answer repeatedly for a full 90 seconds as quickly as you can. It’s simple. The question is, “Who are you?”

When you start answering, you might hear the obvious: Your name, your various roles in life, your “credentials” . . . but as you keep answering rapid fire, some more interesting responses often show up. What’s great about them is they are often the differentiators that make people more unique.

For example, here’s how one of my clients responded

I’m [Her Name]

I’m a nurse

I’m a mother

I’m a sister

I’m a daughter

I’m a wife

I’m a great friend

I’m an educator

Then I could hear her pause and I imagined she was a little stuck. I had warned her that this might happen and if so to return to rapid fire responses, just saying anything. She continued…

I’m a thinker

I’m a questioner

I’m a secret risk taker

I’m an appreciator of dark humor

I’m a sci-fi lover

I’m a surprise

I’m not your usual Health Care Practitioner

I’m an observer

I’m a lover of fashion and style . . . from afar.

We start to get a much better sense of this person as she stretches to answer this one question.

The second exercise helps you begin to create a less self-conscious perception of your qualities. Here’s what to do. Think about someone that has very positive feelings about you.

Could be someone at work, a friend or family member. I want you to imagine that I’m interviewing that person about you and ask for a realistic description of you.

You’ll be answering as if you are that person.

I say to your “fan,” tell me all about [client], how might you describe her/him, what are all the things about [client] that you admire, like, think others should know.

After you come up with the list of traits and qualities, then imagine I ask, “What’s one thing you would want other people to know about [client], one particularly special quality or characteristic?”

After responding yourself, you might want to actually ask your fan to answer the questions for you. Both your ideas of what your fan says and what that person actually does say will give you more insight and probably add a broader perspective of appreciations that you don’t ordinarily give to yourself.

As you listen to the responses to these two exercises, you’ll begin to start seeing how to create the foundational elements of your brand. These are components that describe you, your interests, your values and even your beliefs that go beyond just facts. They are the cornerstones of your story. This is important because people remember and attach to stories while they forget a list of facts, the facts that appear in brochures and resumes and bios. The stories stick.

One last thing. If there was one word that you’d like people to associate with you, one word that might engender a feeling that could be associated with you or your company brand, what might it be?

For illustration, what one word comes to mind when you hear

Apple, Harley Davidson, Volvo

If you asked, you might hear . . . .

Apple – Innovate

Harley Davidson – Rebel

Volvo – Safety

And what comes to mind for these people? Oprah, Tony Robbins, Suzie Ormon?

People might say

Oprah – Be Yourself

Tony Robbins – Breakthrough

Suzie Ormon – Finances

Mine might be “Spark.” And that’s the feedback I often get from my clients and readers; that I inspire and energize them to be their best selves.


I’m going to be creating a podcast demonstrating these questions and how they start critical thinking on branding.

Would you like to be a guest and go through the exercises with me.

If so, let me know ASAP. I’ll interview the first 4 people who get back to me. Send me an email to

or . . .

Leave me a voice mail (201) 614-4439 or (603) 505 5000 cell

To you getting to know you better,


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