Fast Company

Brand Manager for Your Career

My days as an executive recruiter generalist provided insight into many businesses and disciplines. It was the Brand Manager role in many executives and some entrepreneurs I love to apply to the personal brand manager required in all of us.

A classic brand manager job description coming from, say, Kellogg School of Management into a well know company like Sara Lee to run or create any one of the Sara Lee Brands consist of expertise in:

 - Identifying key markets

 - Market research

 - Build product/service solutions

 - Pricing strategy

 - Building brand awareness

If careers are our own business - a business that we create, brand, own and manage. Our careers go through the same service model cycle a business does. So it is logical to think that any professional needs to plan, manage and brand a career. The Classic disciplines required such as those listed above are not required core competencies of the career and community minded professional. But the strategy as a tool is required to build and maintain a sustainable competitive advantage.

Brand management for your career:

Identifying key markets to understand where your skills and passions are transferable.

Market research to be tooled with the required skills to be competitive today and tomorrow and to identify market trends (or create them).

Build product/service solutions that add value and separate you from your perceived competition.

Pricing strategy to understand the value of your skills and results as well positioning for negotiations for your service offering.

Building brand awareness on and offline to be a known commodity and provider of value - sought after as an expert in your field.

Similar to why great companies surrounding themselves with great people internal and external, the people themselves must do the same.  When it comes to the experience others have, who is holding you accountable to a personal brand strategy while you focus on what you are good at?  How is the customer experience and does it match the marketing materials?  Because your brand already exists, there is no pressure to create a brand as we are often advised these days.  What you do need to know is how you are perceived, how you communicate the brand and how you change the perception over time or grow the brand.  In other words, unless you are using a branding iron or needle for tattoos, there is no ing in brand.

I make the mistake of using the participle branding and certainly allow others, but I see a problem. As personal brand concepts are becoming more widely discussed on and offline; and coaches are marketing personal brand services, I see a clear confusion between marketing and brand.


You have a market (maybe not always easily defined). Then you have marketing.

You have a brand (maybe not always easily defined). Then you have marketing.

Brand exists in the moment. Yes, you have a brand right now. You can re-brand to change an image or perception, but the experience remains along the way. You need marketing to communicate the brand.

Brand is soft. It is an experience defined by the market/customer. It can be you, your business, products and culture.

Marketing is more tangible. Name, logo, slogan, design, influence, scheme, campaign, etc. that represents the brand - hopefully.

Brand is a collection of the marketing collateral. Important: the brand can be perceived different than the message. That is where market research comes in. 

You don't start personal branding, the action, but you may start awareness of your brand and a strategy to improve and communicate your value proposition.

Who is your brand manager?

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4 Comments

  • Mark Lauerman

    While I understand the theory of building a personal "brand". (Do I need a personal logo and color scheme)? The appeal of the article is the systematic approach to evaluating what you offer to customers/employers.

  • Muralikrishnan B

    Every Brand in the market stands for something which is its Positioning statement

    Individuals, as they manage their careers also need a Positioning statement, and this must be derived out of what that individual values in life

    The question we all need to ask ourselves is 'What do you stand for ?'
    Is it Innovation, is it efficiency, is it Leadership etc etc