What does your personal brand have in common with a can of Coke?

One of the biggest misconceptions I think people have about personal branding is that you don’t have a personal brand until you create it. Perhaps these people are way too into existentialism, but if you exist you already have a personal brand.

That brand is reflected in every interaction you have with another person.

Their experience of you is your brand. Just like with a product brand you can find different people who experience your brand differently. Being aware of your personal brand also requires that you accept this simple fact. Your job is to be who you are and focus on serving those who are attracted to your brand to the best of your ability. Those who “don’t like” your brand, let them be served by someone else with your blessings.

Some people perceive personal branding as style over substance. I can understand where they get this impression and I see it as confusion between image management and personal branding. In the same way that a new logo for Coca-Cola doesn’t change what’s inside the can, what you wear, how you comb your hair and the nifty catch phrase you came up with for YouTube doesn’t change what’s inside you either.

Watch this video for more and please leave a comment below.


  1. Joseph Rueter on November 10, 2008 at 10:01 am

    It seems to me that personal brand is a collection of all the things you have done and what you represent packaged in a very nice way.

    The quality of the brand, to my mind, has something to do with how you manage it too. Yet it can be a bit tricky to stay who you are rather than brand yourself in a way that you think is what people will want.

    Now with regard with Coke. They do change the insides in different countries. Corn Syrup Coke is found here in the states but the majority of the world has Sugar Cane Coke.

  2. Mario Sanchez Carrion on November 10, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    Great article. Most people make the mistake of focusing on “branding” (the logo, the colors, the look and feel, the tools) before they get the “brand” squared away. When it comes to personal branding, the challenge is even greater. Defining your personal “brand” is mostly a journey of discovery, it’s about “who you are”, rather than what you “need to be”. Know who you are, what are the attributes that define you, and then find out how you can leverage them to help people solve a problem.

  3. Dave Saunders on November 11, 2008 at 9:08 am

    Great comment Joseph,

    I think the mistake people make is to believe that they are what they do. What you do is more like a shadow cast by your values. For many people those values are more a reaction to what “the world” tries to tell them they should think and do rather than their own true core values. Managing your personal brand implies that you can control the experience someone else has of you and that is neither possible nor scalable even if it were possible. A Coke is a created product putting it in a slightly different context, but even from within a country a Coke is a Coke is a Coke. They’re not providing custom mixes to suit the customer and a brand violation doesn’t appear to result from corn syrup vs cane sugar. If it did violate the essential relationship of the brand, they would have experienced a “New Coke” phenomenon.

  4. Dave Saunders on November 11, 2008 at 9:11 am

    Mario, you put that so well. Great stuff. I agree that the myth of a personal brand is that it has anything to do with style or substance. I’ve met a number of people who dress in very expensive clothing but they still have a horrible time establishing rapport with other people. I think this is because they are presenting a facade instead of reflecting “who they are.”

    Thanks again for chiming in!

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