Personal Branding: Why it Matters, What to Do

One of my favorite articles in Tom Peter’s, The Brand Called You. If you haven’t read it, you should. Written before the Internet, the article emphasizes your own personal brand, and makes the now-obvious point (after so many recessions, after Uber, after the so-called ‘sharing economy’ and outsourcing), that you are “on your own.” Whether you are self-employed or an entrepreneur, whether you work for a big company like Intel or Google, or a small company like Tony’s Pizza Napoletana at 1570 Stockton St, here in San Francisco – you should worry about your personal brand image at a professional level.


  • Employers and potential business partners will Google you. What will they find? Positive information or negative information? Lots of information or no information? People are surreptitious – they’ll pre-check you online before they ever call or email. You’ll never know the business contacts that rule you out, before they ever talk to you if your online brand image is bad.
  • Personal branding is a good mental exercise in and of itself: it keeps a record of your achievements, and it reminds you to think “where am I going?” and “who do I want to be”? Rather than passively letting your future build you, it helps you build your future.Personal Branding
  • Personal branding builds skills (especially for those in marketing). It helps teach you how to define a business value proposition (yours), and communicate it (marketing). These skills are transferable to your company or product: we’re all marketers these days, and we market ourselves.
  • Personal branding helps you to be skeptical. Once you realize how easy it is to sculpt your image online, you’ll be more skeptical of the images you see of others and other companies. They are not Goliaths, while you are David. The image that you see of a famous person like Martha Stewart online isn’t the real Martha. Nor need yours be.

So it’s worth it to engage in Personal Branding. All the more so here in San Francisco, in the center of the digital universe. We’re a center of entrepreneurship and innovation, and a city in which people live (and some even sleep) with their mobile phones.

What to Do –

  • Define your Personal Value Proposition. What do you have to offer to others in a professional way? Are you a WordPress web designer? A CPA? A Tax attorney? What do you “produce” that others want?
  • Define your Unique Selling Proposition. Think, a bit, like a marketer. What’s unique about you (vs. other tax attorneys)? What’s your unique brand – are you funny or serious, innovative or traditional? Define what’s unique about what you sell, and how you “spin” it as a marketer.
  • Start a blog. You gotta have a personal website and/or blog. Just gotta. You can look on 28msec today and find a good web host so there’s no excuse not to get one started.
  • Identify the best social media. LinkedIn is a no-brainer for most of us, but for others (e.g., a photographer) it might be Instagram, or for others (e.g., a San Francisco Wedding Planner), it might be Pinterest. Identify, launch, and master the best social media for yourself.

These are just some thoughts on Personal Branding. I will be teaching a two-day course in Personal Branding in November at Stanford. (Email me for details). Hope to see you there!

Jason McDonald, Ph.D

Jason McDonald is a top-rated San Francisco SEO Consultant. His consulting services include search engine optimization consulting, social media marketing consulting, and Google AdWords consulting. Jason's motto as a consultant is that he doesn't do SEO 'for you' but rather he does SEO 'with you.' That goes as well for his social media marketing consultant activities and Google AdWords consultant services. Besides serving clients in the San Francisco Bay Area, Jason consults with clients in Silicon Valley (San Jose), Oakland and other cities throughout the Bay Area. Beyond the Bay Area, Jason is available as an SEO consultant, Social Media Consultant, and as an expert witness in litigation involving social media marketing, search engine optimization and pay-per-click advertising.