Personal Branding 101




If I were to ask you what your favorite brand is, and to describe it in 1-3 words, what would you say? When I ask this question at the personal branding workshops I teach, some of the common brands mentioned include Apple (modern design, functional), Volvo (safe), BMW (fast), Nordstrom (customer service focused), Oprah Winfrey (inspirational)…you get the picture.

I ask this question because, just like you have a favorite brand, and you can describe why you buy it, why you like it, how it’s different from other brands, have you acknowledged that you are also a brand? Your colleagues and friends, are right now, describing YOU with specific adjectives. Do you know what those adjectives are that they use to describe you? Would you agree with their description of YOU, your strengths? Later in this article, you will have a challenge activity where you can confirm for yourself whether your friends and colleagues describe YOU as you’d want to be described, with the opportunity to win a prize! But for now, let’s continue with our lesson about personal branding…



Image courtesy of everydayplus at FreeDigitalPhotos.

Tom Peters, considered to be the godfather of personal branding, defines personal branding as, “comprised of your character, competence and charisma. It’s who you are, what you do, and why you’re special. You have to create it, claim it, and then make sure everyone in your network knows about it.” (Consider, for your back-to-school reading list, the first book written on personal branding, “The Brand Called You,” by Tom Peters, 1997).

And…if I may be so bold as to add to the godfather’s great definition of personal branding—I would also add that personal branding is:

• What you want to be known for in the minds of others
• Goes beyond popularity, you need to have substance to back it up (so you can’t fake it, and don’t oversell, people will eventually find out the truth!)
• Something you manage, not something that just happens (online and offline)
• It’s a continual process…as you grow, so does your brand…(not be morbid—but—when you die…your brand still remains in the minds of people who knew you, or those that hear about you from those who knew you!)

Tom Peters says we have to become the “CEOs of ME, Inc.” So if that’s the case—then –can you start by identifying the qualities or characteristics that make you distinctive from your competitors — or your colleagues? What have you done lately — this week — to make yourself stand out? What would your colleagues or your customers say is your greatest and clearest strength? Your most noteworthy (as in, worthy of note) personal trait?


Now, let’s be realistic, answering the questions posed above, and building your brand is not going to happen overnight. You need to become a brand manager for YOU (YOU- the brand). This is why this work, is a continual process, and something you manage every day! So that now that we have established your new role in this company called YOU, then what’s the strategy we are going to build to roll out the product called YOU?


Image courtesy of Master isolated images of FreeDigitalPhotos.

I recommend you break out the marketing strategy into three sections:

1) PLANNING: Know what you want. Know where to get it.

What are your goals for branding YOU?
These could include but not limited to: Visibility; Preference; Credibility; Engagement; Influence; Perception

Who is your audience and who do you want to influence?
Choosing a niche or target market will make personal branding easier. Define your key stakeholders, niche, influencers, peers, etc.

2) ASSESSMENT: Know who you are.

What is your brand identity as it stands now? Identifying BRAND YOU involves looking at yourself and your attributes in a brutally honest way. Feeling good about yourself and your current place in life will lead to increase confidence which will make the act of branding yourself a more natural activity.

• Do you like what you see, or can YOU be improved?
• Asking those close to you: “what words would you use to describe me?”
• Listen to how you are introduced.
• What are your personal ethics?
• What do you stand for?
• What do you want to be known for?
• Develop one message— your talking points

o Three spheres to build your talking points on:
Professional life, education history, and personal interests
• Be: Clear, consistent and have constancy

• Develop your personal branding statement
• Do you have or need a mentor?

You can accomplish this part of the assessment strategy by also using an online assessment tool:
The 360° Reach Personal Brand Assessment

OR—you can do it the old-fashion way, paper and pen, (or email), and have your friends and/or colleagues answer the below set of questions:

1. Describe with 3-5 adjectives.
2. What was your overall impression of and work?
3. What were the major benefits you received from working with ?
4. How could have improved work product and your experience of working with ?
5. How would you describe your experience with to someone else in need of these services?

When you consolidate the input try to identify certain themes and perceptions about how they describe you and how you are communicating. The results may assist you in making very conscious changes in the way you interact with certain stakeholders so that you could maintain the brand you wish for them to remember.

3) EXPRESSION: Know, how and who you will share with.

Now it’s time to get your message out there.
• How do you reach the people you want to influence? Networking! Develop a plan.
• Choose the right tools to promote your brand:
• Align Behavior with Brand strategy: presence, communication (oral and written), personality, grooming, clothing, well-being
• Nurture brand ambassadors (people who can describe you, the way you wished to be described, when you are not in the room!) Find a mentor.
• Networking opportunities and/or associations (online and offline)
• Social Media Profiles (keep them consistent—and get a professional headshot!!!)
• Recommendations and referrals on Linkedin
• Email impeccably and include a signature line
• Office environment—messy office? What does that say about you?
• Be positive!
• Don’t be fake! Be yourself, have passion!



Image courtesy of user patrisyu by FreeDigitalPhotos.

Dorie Clark, the author of “Reinventing You” and “Stand Out” developed a great outline for what we can do on day-to-day basis to manage our brand.

MONDAY: Google yourself. What is being said about you online—is it accurate?
TUESDAY: Give yourself a Linked-in makeover. One—get a professional headshot! Two—if you haven’t made Linkedin your official online resume, then work on finishing your work history, affiliations, keyword descriptions, etc.
WEDNESDAY: Make your brand consistent. (Across all platforms online and offline).
THURSDAY: Align with other strong brands. Start with your company, college and colleagues.
FRIDAY: Build your network. Create a list of people to reach out to; bring your offline relationships online.
SATURDAY: Keep refining…and if you haven’t gotten that professional headshot yet—then that’s your task for today!
SUNDAY: Renew and Develop Yourself. Remember your brand management needs to be constant, but it also won’t happen overnight…so what didn’t you do last week, that you can do this coming week?


So in preparation for this article…I asked my friends how they would describe me, with 3-5 adjectives or phrases. Their answers included, in no particular order, “driven, results-oriented, welcoming to others, connected marketing professional, cares about her community, is always put together both in attire and in how she communicates.” I am grateful to be able to confirm that their descriptions of ME, Inc. represent who I am in my beliefs, values and actions.

So—now it’s YOUR turn! Your challenge activity is … to… ask 3-5 friends and/or colleagues to describe you with three adjectives. Share with us on Facebook what you learned from this activity—were they accurate? If not, what will you do to change their perceptions? Share your findings by tagging Modern Latina on Facebook or Instagram by September 30, 2016 and you will be entered into a raffle to win one of the following prizes— one free photography session (valued at $175) for a professional headshot OR a 50% off a photography session for one headshot (valued at $175, you pay $87.50)! If I haven’t stressed this enough in this article— the brand YOU needs a professional headshot!

Thank you to photographer Kimberli Weed Brady of for offering her photography services!

Now—it’s time to take charge of your brand!


Mrs. Guisselle Nuñez is Director of Marketing, Public and Government Relations for Chabot-Las Positas Community College District. Born in Nicaragua, her family immigrated to San Jose, CA when she was seven years old. Mrs. Nuñez has a Bachelor’s Degree from Santa Clara University in History and Italian and a Master’s Degree from Golden Gate University in Integrated Marketing Communications.  Guisselle’s career leadership includes marketing communications, community/government relations, and business development. She has been an associate faculty member with the University of Phoenix, Bay Area campus, since 2011.  In addition to teaching undergraduate and graduate marketing courses, she teaches specialty workshops such as personal branding, basics of marketing, to organizations such as ALPFA, Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley, American Express Travel Network, Association of Travel Agents (ASTA), and more. In her spare time, she volunteers as a mentor for the Peninsula College Fund, and serves on non-profits boards such as the Girl Scouts of Northern California, Latina Coalition of Silicon Valley and more.  Her personal philosophy is to “help improve the lives of others.”  She approaches her volunteer activities from the lens of her passion for marketing, and finds opportunities to share those skills whenever possible. She’s also passionate about helping (young) women with their personal and professional development.