The Brand Called You

A concise summary of Tom Peters’ article The Brand Called You.


You’re branded from head to toe by companies – from the products you use, the beverages you consume to the clothes you wear. 

It is time to brand yourself and stand out.

Everyone can be a brand. Create a distinctive role for yourself, create a message and a strategy to promote your brand. You are not defined by your job title or job description. 

Step 1 – Define what makes you different?

Start by asking: what makes you different? 

In 15 words or less, what does your service/product do that makes you different? Does the answer grab you? If not, it is time to seriously imagine and develop your brand. 

Where to start? Identity the qualities/characteristics that make you distinctive from others. What have you done lately to stand out? What would others say is your most noteworthy trait?

Step 2 – What do you want to be famous for?

Forget your job title, description and career ladder. Instead, ask yourself: What do I do that adds measurable and distinctive value? What do I do that I am most proud of? What have I accomplished that I can brag about?

To become a brand, focus on what you do that:

  • Adds value
  • You’re proud of
  • Legitimately take credit for 

Step 3 – How do you market yourself?

Your brand needs visibility. 

Speak in public, publish your work, take on freelance projects. 

Your visibility campaign – it all matters. 

Everything you do (and don’t do) communicates your brand’s value and character. 

Your network of people is your most important marketing vehicle, so nurture these relationships. 

Step 4 – Grow your brand. 

Understand your influence and reputational power. 

Power is largely based on perception, so act like a credible leader. Think like brand You, be a leader of You. 

How to grow your power? Recognise that we live in a project world, and they create deliverables and measurables i.e. braggables. 

Project World makes it easier to advertise brand You. 

You are not a resume anymore, you are a marketing brochure. 

Instead of a list of titles and positions held, emphasise:

  • Skills mastered
  • Projects delivered
  • Braggables

Grow yourself, promote yourself, get the market to reward yourself. 

Learn, grow, build relationships, deliver results – constantly improve yourself – this benefits you and the people you work with/for. 

The future of You?

Your career isn’t a ladder, it is a portfolio of projects that teach you new skills, expertise, capabilities, network, and reinventions as a brand. 

Don’t become a “manager”. Instead, work on more interesting and challenging projects. 

Write your own mission statement, and search relentlessly for job/project opportunities that fit this mission. 

Review your statement every six months to make sure you still believe what you wrote. 

No matter what you do, measure yourself against these four things:

  • Being a great teammate and supportive colleague. 
  • Being an expert at something that has real value. 
  • Being a visionary – a leader, teacher, farsighted imagineer. 
  • Being a businessperson – obsess over measurable and pragmatic outcomes.

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