Position Yourself Before You Brand

Personal branding is essential. It is crucial for you to know who you are, what is special about you and how you can stand out in a crowd. The topic of personal branding is becoming more and more relevant for me as a senior at Boston University and as a job seeker.

sb2Before you even start branding yourself, you need a position. Positioning is an advertising and marketing concept used for the creation and definition of brands. All of your personal branding efforts must stay true to this position. Your brand position is what is what makes your brand truly unique and different,  and therefore is what sticks in the mind of the consumer.

Positioning: The Battle For Your Mind

In their preeminent Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, Al Ries and Jack Trout define positioning as “not what you do to a product. Positioning is what you do to the mind of the prospect. That is, you position the product in the mind of the prospect.”

Positioning is about finding a unique location in your consumers mind. While you may not be seeking out traditional consumers, positioning is still relevant. An HR team, for example, may search through hundreds of resumes for just one opening- that is a lot of consumption and repetition. You need to make sure your position is unique and that it stands out among the pack.

Creating Your Positioning Statement

WritingThe inspiration for this blog entry is my Advertising Management class at BU. Professor John Verret gave us a personal positioning assignment. I think this is the easiest way to discover your position and then move on to the creation of your brand.

The most important part of the assignment is the one sentence positioning statement. All brands use this formula to create their positioning statement. The formula for the positioning statement is:

To (audience). (YOUR NAME) is a (category name) which provides (main benefit).

My favorite example from class was:

“To the prospective employer at an advertising agency or a corporate organization, BU GIRL is the fusion of suburban and urban, conservative and liberal, direction following and creative thinking that provides a passionate commitment to perseverance and quality work with an enduring positive outlook. (Tagline: “Consistent Enthusiasm”)

Here was the rest of the assignment:

“There are not many “positions” to choose from.  Loretta Lynn, the Country & Western singer, when asked to talk about how one becomes successful in any endeavor told the interviewer “You either have to be first, best or different”.  That may be somewhat of an over simplification, but it is a quick guide to choosing a position. If you were trying to sell yourself to a prospective employer, how would you separate yourself from the “pack”?  Please include your “brand essence” and a positioning statement.

You might consider using some of the knowledge you have picked up about Account Planning in order to get a clearer picture of how you should position yourself in the mind of the “consumer”. Keep it brief. No more than three pages. And the third page better have meaty content.”

Professor Verret is right on with this assignment. You must stand out in a crowd- and this applies to college, internships, graduate school and job applications. But to stand out you need to know who you are and what your position is, then build your brand around that strength.

Good luck positioning. I would love to hear about what you come up with!


Shannon Reed is a senior at Boston University majoring in Advertising in the College of Communication. She has experience working for NBC Universal in New York City as well as PJA Advertising and Marketing in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She loves clean functional digital design. Digital is the future of advertising and marketing and Shannon likes to say involved and on trend. Visit her website or follow her on Twitter.

Related posts:

  1. The Elevator Pitch: Promote and Position Your Personal Brand
  2. 3 Things Students Can Do to Position Themselves to Succeed in a Tough Job Market
  3. Your Brand Assignment: Group Work

One Response to “Position Yourself Before You Brand”

  1. avatar Chuck Reed says:

    Shannon, brand consistency is always the key to building brand value. Behavior and actions say much more than words about your commitment to your brand’s promise. That’s one reason American car companies have struggled; talking about quality but delivering poor quality products. BMW has consistently delivered on their “more than a driving machine’ with engineering innovations and product that is truly differentiated.

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