Building Your Brand From Top Down

In my last post, “Have a plan to build your brand,” you (hopefully) identified your top two core values in your personal value system. In other words, we started from the center or basis of yourself, and leaped to the top of those things you value most. This week we start at the top of those values and work from there.
Remember, these values are going to represent the essence of you from here on forward. Now let’s see how effective your brand can be. So how do we go about doing this? Let’s start by understanding that brands that are purchased, not the product. For example, when you need a place to stay, you purchase the Four Seasons™ but you “consume” a hotel. Like branded products, it is your brand that is “purchased” or hired but it is you that will perform the work.

To further illustrate how this works, let’s engage in a quick psychological word association game. I’ll mention a word/name and see if I can figure out what is on top of your mind or your first response. So if I mention Daniel Craig, one of your first thought might be James Bond. How did I do? My contemporaries would elicit the same response upon hearing “Sean Connery.”

This emphasizes the importance of matching your brand with the strengths of the inner you. Hopefully the brand of you will eventually yield the same “bond” as it does for our favorite Bond actors.
So, as we noted earlier, effective brands effectively differentiate. Ask yourself, will the top two value items from your list differentiate you from your competition? If not, then maybe it is time to look down a rung or two on your list to find the next item(s) that might do the trick.

Before you disgard anything, do not consider your top two values as stand-alone items, but rather as a complimentary pair. Whereas individually, they may not differentiate you, but as a pair, they just might. Carefully think about them and compare them with some of your peers’ values (assuming they know them) and see if you stand out. That might be a good indicator of how successfully you can differentiate yourself. But your personal brand differentiation alone is not enough. In my next post, we will explore then next important dimension of an excellent personal brand.


Howard, an Associate Professor of Marketing in the Mihaylo College of Business and Economics at the California State University Fullerton, earned his Ph.D. from Temple University. Prior to joining the faculty at Cal State, Howard was on the faculty at Drexel University and The Pennsylvania State University. A native of Philadelphia, Howard has extensive experience in the public and private sectors working for organizations such as the Department of Defense, Motorola, and the CSX railroad.  His research expertise is in branding, sustainability, strategic pricing, and education. In addition to teaching at Cal State, Howard has a consulting business focused on branding. You can follow Howard on Twitter or connect with him at Linkedin.

Related posts:

  1. Building a Brand, not a Business
  2. Why You Need To Start Building Your Brand NOW
  3. Building a Consistent Personal Brand

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