The power of personal positioning (and why it’s different to personal branding)

personal branding

Nina Christian: “Personal positioning is what gets you in the room”

In recent years, the concept of personal branding has gained significant traction, with many recognising its importance yet struggling to grasp its intricacies.

In mainstream business, concepts such as brand identity, brand values and even brand voice are widely understood. There is also a steadily growing trend in people desiring it to apply these principles to themselves as a person, whether as an employee, entrepreneur, industry leader or champion of change.

Personal branding, akin to the practice of farmers marking cattle for identification, is where individuals craft a distinct identity that sets them apart from other “like” entities.

The beautifully empowering aspect of the personal brand process is that a) you choose the mark you wish to identify with and b) you apply it to yourself, as and when and how you wish.

It’s important to note that the power is not in the “mark” itself, but the emotion that’s evoked in others, the feelings people experience when your brand comes to mind.

Jeff Bezos is famously attributed with saying that your personal brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room. 

What your brand stands for is one thing, and a very important thing at that. But how you get it in front of people, and how you strategically use it to achieve commercial objectives is where “personal positioning” comes into the forefront.

Personal positioning is what gets you in the room.

Nina Christian Rethinking traditional marketing

Nina Christian

Personal positioning involves making deliberate decisions about how, where, and when you present your brand to the world, strategically leveraging it to achieve your personal and commercial goals and objectives.

Modern marketing is a new ballgame – there are new rules, new players, new locations, new equipment and new crowds.

In the dynamic landscape of modern marketing, personal positioning is the key to choosing where you place yourself in the ever-evolving game.

Like players in the major leagues, who pick and choose who they “play for” at any given time, as a brand you’re at choice who you “lend” your brand equity to. It might be your own brand, it might be someone else’s. Players align with a team who for a season, benefits from their skills, experience, reputation (to draw crowds) and dedication (commitment to the team).

When an employee works for an organisation they’re doing the same thing. Lending their skills, experience, reputation and dedicated to a larger “brand”. But they still have their own personal brand too.

Just like a player is generally at choice to move teams, or if they wish, take up a solo sport! Where they no longer have to follow a strict set of guidelines, they are free to pursue anything they wish. Of course that also means that the outcome rests entirely on their shoulders and they don’t have the support and resourcing of the team on an ongoing basis. So for many they stay happily part of their team, and choose the ones they most align with and enjoy being a part of.

Personal positioning as a personal brand is choosing how and where you show up, and what you communicate yourself to others – and when used strategically it can benefit BOTH employer and employee – as the brands morph and meld together for a while.

And the business or brand is yours, you are at choice what cause, message or purpose you apply your personal brand to at any given time, and how and when and where you communicate that in the world.

You get to “position” as you wish.

And it’s ok to evolve, change and adapt how you do that – just as the world around us continues to change and evolve.

You have a brand. How much you are in control of that is up to you. And as we head into 2024 perhaps it’s not just the personal brand, but the personal positioning you need to get more intentional about.

According to the 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report 63% of people buy or advocate for brands that align with their beliefs and values.

You can have an authentic and compelling personal brand but if nobody sees or knows about it, how is it helping you?

How are people able to advocate for you, hire you, refer you, buy from you?

Whether you’re a business looking to attract and retain rising talent, a solopreneur looking to win new clients, an employee looking to have the pick of the positions, a change-maker seeking to rally people behind your ideas and inspire action – it’s not just about getting noticed. People do business with people – and this comes in equal parts from “being the brand” people align with and feel good about, fuelled by the power of personal positioning to get the right message in front of the right people at the time.

It’s not up to your employer. It’s not up to your industry. It’s not up to your marketing person. It’s not up to your audience.

It’s up to YOU.

And as you explore and embrace the synergies around personal branding and personal positioning and fuel these with intention and integrity, the flow-on effect is that your influence and impact amplify so much more naturally and authentically.

You effortlessly connect with people who are eager to advocate for you, because they are clear on what you stand for and how you can help them and others in their own life or business.

And this isn’t just commercially savvy; it’s profoundly personally rewarding, as you shape your presence both personally and professionally, and the impact of your genuine self reverberates and expands through intentional sharing with the world.

See Also: Fuelling Your Brand: Lessons from an emergency landing

Nina Christian is a Marketing Futurist, & Global Marketing Mentor who helps people do their marketing in a more human way. 

She is a Certified Practicing Marketer (CPM), Life Member and Fellow of the Australian Marketing Institute & AMI State Chair (Vic) and for 20 years was director of marketing agency Braveda (Winner, Best Marketing Agency, Australian Marketing Excellence Awards).

Several years ago Nina saw the world of marketing shifting – this time as people became their own brands.  With this, she created a new business as a thought leader, combining her expertise in brand building with personal positioning, resulting in a breakthrough praxis known as Marketing Me® which she delivers globally to business leaders, professionals and entrepreneurs.

She is the author of the book Marketing Me: Take Charge of Your Personal Brand and Make Your Mark on the World which helps professionals who want to market themselves authentically, but don’t understand what makes them truly unique and significant or have the confidence to express their value in a way that feels good.

Being a hands-on mum of five children, Nina has developed a knack for simplifying complexity. As a result, her systems and processes are practical, accessible and impactful.

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