The Difference Between Your Identity and Your Professional Brand

So, what is the difference between how you are known in your industry, or in my terms, your Professional Brand and your identity? Most would think they are similar as it relates to the different aspects of your personality, but in reality they are formed in different ways.

Your identity starts forming from the time you are born and is formed and developed from life experiences, Usually in a subconscious context…in other words your identity emerges without much conscious consideration and perhaps much of our behavior arises out of what you are not aware of about yourself and is outside your control. This is important because your subconscious motives are implicit, very powerful, and directive. This is true for all of us and well beyond theory; this is now a proven truth.

In respect to your identity in your industry or “professional brand”, no doubt some of it is also made up of motives and desires unconsciously, most of it is made up (or should be) developed with conscious effort. Making choices about how you want others to see you and relate to you. An example would be Bill Gates who always wore a sweater with a button down shirt underneath according to Mark Wilson of Men’s Vogue or Steve Jobs and his ever present black turtleneck and jeans look. Granted, this was probably done out of convenience, but also are examples of consciously chosen self-branding whether they call it branding or not. And their brands parallel perfectly with the identities they created, their recognizable image; their unique selves.

How do you express yourself? More succinctly, how do you want to consciously express yourself? Do you do it by your style of dress? What about your personal expression? Are you energetic and extroverted; quiet and introverted? intuitive and authentic? Step back from yourself and see you as others at work and in your social circle see you. Even if you change hairstyles every so often, or go from wearing professional clothing at work to relaxed, dressed down jeans and torn converse shoes on your off time, then that is what you will be known for; and that will be your brand. There is no getting away from branding, good or bad….but that choice is up to you. That’s how we identify and connect with one another.

So start today on your brand…be aware and authentic in who you are and do what you have to do to be recognized and known as YOU…as defined by you.

How do you start? Stay tuned and more to come on that, but start thinking consciously about who you are, what values do you hold and what your friends, work associates and others would say about you. Compile a list of these and be ready!

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