4 Telltale Questions to Uncover a Personal Brand That Stinks

personal branding, personal brand identity, personal brand image

4 Telltale Questions to Uncover a Personal Brand That Stinks

Excuse me, while I hold your nose.


“You may not need a personal brand, but you have one.”

You, I, and everyone have a personal brand image (or how others see you in a particular situation or environment).

Begin to understand by answering these 4 telltale questions:

1. How would your co-workers describe you?

“He is a hard worker and always willing to bend over backward to get the job done.  I love his flexibility.”

“She is so nice . . . it is wicked scary.”

“Her personal grooming habits annoy me to tears.  Does she have to sit at her desk and crunch Cheetos all day?”

“I want him on my team.  He will do all the work.”

This is a personal brand image.

2. How would your current or former professors describe you?

“He is a good kid but always fidgeting and staring at his crotch and not paying attention.  It is either a rash or a smart phone addiction. Nevertheless, it must be contagious because others are doing it, too.”

“He is a lazy, do-what-it-takes-to-get-by, kind of person that will be eaten alive in the dog-eat-dog real world of sharks and trolls.”

“Wow! Intelligent.  A self-learner.  Takes initiative.  And, crazy good marketable skills rarely seen from her peers.  I would hire her in a New York thirty seconds.”

“A daydreamer.  Follows his own path.  Questions everything.  Does his own thing.  A dropout and/or a someday soon entrepreneur.”

This is a personal brand image.

3. How would your friends describe you?

“He is a loyal friend that would do anything for me, even help me hide a dead body.  Siri where can I hide a dead body?

“She is funny and makes me laugh as if milk could come out my nose.  Also makes me hungry for cookies.”

“A bookworm.  She will never find a husband if she doesn’t get her head out those books and into some better fashion.”

“Always wants to play.  Free as a bird. Never serious.  I wish I could be that guy.”

This is a personal brand image.

4. How would Google describe you if a potential employer Googled your name?

“Oh my!  I didn’t need to see that.  Facebook can be so cruel.  Forget this one. Give me another name.”

“This kid rises to the top with his LinkedIn Profile.  It confirms what I see on his resume.  He is career minded and focused. Tweet back to him and get him here for an interview.”

“Someone needs to teach these young people that they shouldn’t rant and curse on their Twitter accounts.  That’s what Facebook is for.”

“Wow! A blog.  This demonstrates good writing skills, focus, current thinking, and a desire to learn.  Way ahead of the curve.”

“Ah, Instagram pictures. I guess she plays Goth in her free time.  I wonder how she would redecorate my office.  I love right brainers.”

This is a personal brand image.

The Take Away

If you haven’t smelled it yet, then take a deep breath and ask your friends, professors, co-workers and Google what they honestly think about you or how they would describe you in a few short phrases or key words.

When you exhale, you will quickly realize that you do have a personal brand image.  And, that personal brand image stays on the web and in the mind of all who cross your life path, until you make a concerted effort to change or improve it.

“If your personal brand image stinks, then you have to un-stink it.”

Your un-stinking strategy begins with defining your personal brand identity (how you want others to see you), and then using social media and other self-marketing strategies to improve your personal brand image (how people do see you).

When your personal brand identity is near or equal to your personal brand image, then your un-stinking transformation is done.

Or, done for a short while.

From a career perspective, your personal brand requires an ongoing and strategic effort to monitor, manage, build, and improve your personal brand.  This personal branding effort may include improving your appearance, changing your work habits, or creating a social media presence on the web.

To stink or not to stink, only you can freshen the smell of your personal brand.  Just begin with the right questions.


Image credit: photo adapted from Lester Public Library’s Flickr.

The following two tabs change content below.

Denny McCorkle @DennyMcCorkle

Professor of Marketing, Monfort College of Business at University of Northern Colorado
As a nationally recognized and award winning Marketing Professor in the Monfort College of Business at the University of Northern Colorado, I help students, professors, and professionals to gain a Digital Self Marketing Advantage through the use of social media marketing for personal branding, job search, skills development, career advancement, and life-long learning.