Let me just say this up front: I think personal branding is a sham. The idea that you can have one thing that consistently defines you in all contexts of your life is ridiculous.
It’s impossible to have one marketable brand that you can apply to every community you belong to. You can be “that guy” in specific circles — the rugby guy to your sports friends, or the photoshop guy to your tech friends — but the only thing you can be across group lines is yourself.
So if you have any depth of character whatsoever, you can’t honestly say that only one thing defines you.
You may love playing poker, but unless you’re a professional, what you do for a living also defines you. You may be Catholic, but if you blog about food, you’ve got more than one brand.
Since out of everyone in the world, the person I know the best is myself, take a look at how I could be defined:
- web guy
- tech/gadgets guy
- jewish guy
- orioles/ravens fan
- wordpress guru
- podcaster/video talent
- music lover
- tv/movies/entertainment fan
- and probably more. For sure more.
(Marci Alboher explains this best with her slash mentality; we are not just one thing, we are bloggers/speakers/consultants/ …)
So, the question becomes: how you combine all of the things that make you up into one brand?
You can’t. Except to say that you are your brand.
Jason Unger is my brand. But that doesn’t define me in a “personal branding” sense, which would rather me be the “wordpress guy” or the “lover of 24.” It simply says that I am the sum of my parts. Which is true.
While it is also true that I am a “wordpress guy” and “lover of 24,” these stereotypes don’t matter out of context.
But that doesn’t mean they can’t connect. In fact, it’s when the your multiple brands collide that you have the opportunity to benefit.
And when that happens, your branding simply becomes your name. Not your area of expertise or passion. You.
So don’t try and define yourself by one brand that doesn’t fit all of your contexts. The only universal personal brand is your name.