Defining your personal and professional identity, reputation, positioning yourself. Personal branding (personality). Elevator pitch, slogan/tagline.

"What is a brand but a harmonious series of images, thoughts, and beliefs about a person, business or product?"

- Karyn Greenstreet on the Big Branding System blog (2015)


General Advice

  • A niche is interesting, not boring!
    • Tie my specific niche knowledge into current trends.
    • Find and use curious bits of data I have.
    • Make it funny.
  • Great brands have a clear purpose!
    • Why do we exist?
    • What do we stand for?
    • What role will we play in people’s lives?
    • What impact do we want to have on the world?
    • Why are we the best?
    • Why should you believe us?
    • Why should you buy right now?
  • Do you have your vision written down and ready to share?
    • How do you picture your personal brand?
    • Have live, detailed images in your mind!

Personal Branding Guidelines

Be memorable.

Article on Personal Branding Blog, Jan 20, 2015

  • Maintain profitable relationships (influencers!)
  • Have a professional website on your own domain
  • Cultivate your personal appearance
    • Live healthy
    • Work out
    • Dress professionally
    • Sleep enough
  • Have business cards (and other promo materials)
  • Have a social media strategy

Intro/Overview by Karyn Greenstreet on BIG Brand System (2015)

  • "There’s only one you. The snapshot you give your customers of who you are and what you stand for is one of the best ways to differentiate yourself from others in your field."
  • "Your personal brand is a clear reflection of what already exists inside of you."

Advantages of a personal brand:

  1. Grows business by attracting perfect client
  2. Identifies who are & what you do. "We don't buy from businesses, we buy from people"
  3. Shortcuts people's decision-making process. They will want to know more
  4. Creates a public persona. Strong and compelling. Consistency, trust.

Creating a personal brand:

  1. Be original
  2. Project a clear image
    • Pick 3 descriptive adjectives
    • To shortcut/summarize your personality
  3. Decide how much personality/experience/background to show
  4. Choose how to show expertise. Show off results.
  5. Highlight (several!) unique qualities.
  6. Distill core message.
  7. Match verbal & visual image: e.g., wardrobe, website, media presences.

25 logo design tips article on Creative Bloq, Feb 2017

Research & Strategy

  1. Understand the competition
    • Ask client for info re. competitors
    • Compare logos to find established branding conventions
    • Still, bear in mind: most recognizable brands stand out!
  2. Ask the right questions
    • Why are we here?
    • What do we do, and how?
    • What makes us different?
    • Who are we here for?
    • What do we value?
    • What's our personality?
  3. Stay flexible
    • Changes in direction may be necessary
    • Theory vs. practice might not work
  4. Respect brand's heritage
    • Don't dismiss pre-existing designs!
  5. Logo is just one ingredient!
    • How does the logo interact with the rest of the brand experience?


  1. Carefully choose typeface
    • Lately: mostly sans-serifs in logo design
    • But serif might still make sense! (tradition, class, elegance)
  2. Tweak, refine, add personality
    • Color palette, gradients, kerning, tracking, imagery
  3. Consider illustrated, fully-bespoke type
    • Spice it up with hand-drawn type
    • Example: Coca-Cola
  4. Experiment with letter combinations
    • "Happy accidents" could lead to strokes of genius
    • Example: FedEx arrow between E and x
    • Yves Saint Laurent "YSL" emblem
  5. Own an entire typeface
    • Create a whole font family from scratch

Shape and Symbolism

  1. Strip to the basics
    • Simplicity!!
    • Scalability
    • Keep subtracting elements until reaching most elementary form
  2. Understand shape psychology
    • Research: Bauhaus school of design
    • Yellow triangle, red square, blue circle
    • shapes and colours with universal significance
  3. Master Grids and Structure
    • Grids, curves
    • Golden ratio
    • And other design principles
  4. Employ negative space
    • "Simplification through subtraction"
  5. Use wit and humour
    • Book: "A Smile In The Mind"

Color theory

  1. Understand the colour wheel
    • Primary, secondary, tertiary colours
  2. Manage colour schemes carefully
    • Balance between contrast and complementary color overkill
    • Select dominant color and use others as accents only
  3. Colour to control mood
    • Warm colors: bold, uplifting, energetic
    • Cool colors: calm, reserved
  4. Research colour trends in sector
    • e.g.: blue in financial sector, green in environmental organizations
    • Sometimes, avoiding the obvious is advisable too
  5. Don't forget black and white
    • Even color logos need to work in greyscale
    • How to convey meaning if color disappears?

Putting logo design into practice

  1. Get a second opinion
    • Avoid embarrassing faux-pas
  2. Develop the rest of the brand world
    • Establish coherence and consistency between brand elements!
  3. Make it come alive
    • How to animate logo?
    • How to shape or distort?
  4. Help client with roll-out
    • Brand usage guidelines: color options, min/max sizes, positioning, spacing...
    • No-nos, such as stretching, distorting
    • There are guidebooks for this (see article!)
  5. Deal with public criticism
    • Interesting video in article

(Elevator) Pitch

  • Also known as "elevator speech", "promo blurb", "magic sentence".
  • Your 1-sentence answer to "Who are you, what do you do and why is it special?". Example anatomy:
    • My name is [name] and I help [who] to [do what] by [doing what].
    • Example: "My name is Matt and I help entrepreneurs promote their business and personality on their website, blog and social media through professional writing and photography."
  • Suggestion: keep this shorter than 150 characters so it will fit in a text message, tweet and the Facebook "about" box.

Advice from Carol Tice (Make Your Living Writing blog)

  • Short script about yourself. Examples:
    • What kind of writing do you do?
    • What types of clients?
    • Covering a specialized industry?
  • Have one that's ready at all times!
    • Networking happens everywhere
  • Practice it until it sounds natural!

Advice from Maria Elena Duron on Personal Branding Blog:

  • Figure out what's unique about you applying to audience
    • Start with info your audience will most care about
  • Know what you're trying to accomplish
    • Address audience concerns, offer irresistible solution
  • Short, succinct, conversational

Delivering it Live

Article by Alex Freund on Personal Branding Blog

  • Stand out from the crowd and captivate the audience!
  • Say your name loud and clear, slowly
  • Involve your body, voice, content
  • Do not praise yourself too much. Nobody cares
  • Express authenticity to inspire the listener to action!
  • Dress well, show passion and excitement
  • Offer assistance
  • Prepare it carefully, rehearse it, test it on friends
    • Practice until it feels natural


  • 4-6 words that embody your brand's identity and are unique

How to come up with them? The Young Entrepreneur Council on Personal Branding Blog:

  • Write a list of 50 bad ideas! Gets the juices flowing and breaks restraint
  • Explain your company to a 5-year-old
    • Then, ask what they remember the next day! This may be your tagline
  • Answer the question: "WHY are you?"
  • Brainstorm with your team
  • Eliminate what you're not
  • List 10 things that make your business unique
  • Crowdsource it
  • Answer the question to the problem you're solving
  • Ask your network for words they think represent you
  • Turn your value add into the tagline
  • Study / inhabit your niche
  • Collaborate: collect words with team, combine, eliminate, narrow down

Creating a Positive Reputation

  • Deliver excellent customer service on social media
    • Let people know that's where it happens
    • Respond fast, directly and in person
  • Make it easy for customers to share positive feedback on social media
    • Include gracious message on thank-you page after purchase + sharing icons
    • Feature and display positive feedback on your web site etc.
  • Entertain! People will share funny stuff that makes them feel good

Targeting, Personality

  • Be memorable: offer items/content people will talk about. E.g. outrageous, edgy, bold
  • Know your Customer: have a personality that vibes with my clientele (think TV shows: MIMYM, Roseanne)
  • Don't worry about who's not your customer. Write off those who don't match.

Values in Action Inventory of Strengths

  • Work by Martin Seligman and Christopher Peterson (via Personal Branding Blog):
    • Wisdom and Knowledge: creativity, curiosity, judgement, love of learning, perspective
    • Courage: bravery, perseverance, honesty, zest
    • Humanity: love, kindness, social intelligence
    • Justice: teamwork, fairness, leadership
    • Temperance: forgiveness, humility, prudence, self-regulation
    • Transcendence: appreciation of beauty and excellence, gratitude, hope, humor, spirituality
  • Karen McCullough recommends on Personal Branding Blog: select 3-5 for yourself!

Personality Types / Character Traits

  • Example list from Yourdictionary
  • Examples from Investopedia
    1. Excitement: carefree, spirited, youthful
    2. Sincerity: genuine, kind, family-oriented, thoughtful
    3. Ruggedness: rough, tough, outdoors, athletic
    4. Competence: successful, accomplished, influential, a leader
    5. Sophistication: elegant, prestigious, pretentious

Setting Yourself Apart

  • Article at Copyblogger
    • Crossover: take something from one area and present to a different audience
    • Metaphor: "duct tape marketing"
    • Persona-driven: this would be personal branding

Business/Personal Portrait

  • Interview for a podcast, written portrait or video to promote your personality and business: have it at your defining location!
  • Tell your story rather than pitch your features!


  • Personal history
    • Hard times
    • Sacrifices
  • Origin
  • Defining moments in life
    • First time using a specific tool
    • Event that made the path clear
    • What was your first thought when...?
    • What was the first thing you did after...?
    • Which words were spoken?
    • How did it look, feel, taste, smell, sound?
  • Habits (e.g. do they go to the gym all the time? Eat well?)
  • Why did you start your business?
  • Who are your customers? How do they solve their problems?
  • What are your biggest challenges / opportunities in today's business?
  • What do you want to accomplish?
    • ...with your blog, web site, social media etc.?
  • How do you want your customers to feel?
    • How do you want them to feel about you?
    • In 5 adjectives!
  • How does your activity make you feel?
  • Can you tell us something few people know about you?
  • What's the latest news? Developments?

Notes for Interviewers

  • Take note of how they talk, which terminology they use, personal expressions
    • Ask for clarification
  • Observe:
    • What are their typical gestures? (body language)
    • What decisions have they made?
      • clothing
      • accessories
      • grooming
      • hair
      • appearance
      • jewellery
      • tattoos, piercings