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How to Create a Personal Brand That Rocks

The Importance of a Strong Personal Brand
Although you may not realize it, you are a brand. As Jeff Bezos of Amazon explains: “Your personal brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room."

Your personal brand is how others perceive you, whether or not that perception is based in fact. It precedes your arrival into a room, and it lingers long after you leave. Simply put, understanding how people perceive you is vital to your career. When you’re looking for a job, a strong personal brand can be the difference between a lucrative life-changing offer and another résumé tossed in the scrap heap. It can fast track your climb up the corporate ladder, or it can hold you back from the opportunities you deserve.

That’s why, to succeed in today’s crowded and over-communicated business world, you need a personal brand that rocks.

Rock Your Brand with the “5 P’s”
A rock star's personal brand begins with the 5 P’s of personal branding: Position, Presentation, Passion, Purpose, and Profit. Each P feeds the next one in succession.

Position is your unique story, like Bruce Springsteen’s story of a blue-collar boy from working-class New Jersey. The everyman hero image that Bruce has cultivated is reflected in everything that he does, from his music to his look to the political causes that he supports. Bruce Springsteen is wealthy beyond his wildest dreams, yet we continue to see him as a working-class man, shaped by the broken factories and broken promises of post-Vietnam New Jersey.

Presentation is how you tell your story. An example is the way Kiss used comic book makeup and pyrotechnics to get people talking about the band. Kiss went from obscurity to world fame in just two short years because they presented something to the world that it had never seen before. They told their story in a bold, dramatic, and polarizing way. People were forced to pay attention. Many people were disgusted by the band; however, a small but passionate group of fans loved them and formed The Kiss Army, one of the most notorious rock music fan clubs. You can tell your story subtly or boldly. You can tell your story through your look, the words you choose, the people you associate with, and the places you go.

Passion is taking what you love doing into your life’s work, just like David Crosby turned his love of harmony into collaborative roles in legendary groups like The Byrds and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. Crosby never craved life as a solo artist; his passion was creating harmony with others. On the day that he, Graham Nash, and Stephen Stills first sang together, he knew he was part of something very special.

Mick Jagger’s passion led him to commit wholeheartedly to his career as a musician. He had been accepted into the London School of Economics, a prestigious school that had a famous pedigree of political leaders, bankers, and journalists. When Mick dropped out, his dad was furious. But Mick knew that he had to follow his passion. By giving up on the London School of Economics, he could focus his passion entirely on making music with The Rolling Stones.

Purpose allows you to grow by using your success to make the world better through acts of generosity and kindness, the same way Bob Geldof did when he created Band Aid and Live Aid in the mid 1980s. Geldof wasn’t world famous then. His band, The Boomtown Rats, had a few small hit songs, but Bob Geldof was hardly a household name. However, when he saw a news report about starving children in Africa, he decided to do something. He rounded up a group of much more famous musicians from across the UK and brought them together to record a song he cowrote called “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” The song became the fastest-selling single in UK history and raised millions of dollars to help relieve Ethiopian famine. It also spawned the American version, USA for Africa, and Live Aid concerts in London and Philadelphia. Geldof used the tools at his disposal to create change, and that change became his purpose. By pursuing purpose, he achieved a level of fame and wealth far beyond what he achieved through making music.

Profit is the end result of having a rock star personal brand. Profit can be financial, but it can also mean personal enrichment and fulfillment beyond cash. Jon Bon Jovi runs his band like a business, and the result is a windfall of money and goodwill. He is a relentless and tireless worker, overseeing the band’s writing, recording, and touring schedule. He views his role as more than just a lead singer, but as the actual CEO of Bon Jovi, Inc. His dedication and energy rubs off on the entire team, the same way a company CEO provides a company with energy and drive. The band’s success has provided him with the opportunity to help others. His JBJ Soul Kitchen restaurants have no prices on the menu, allowing customers to either pay what they can afford or to volunteer in the restaurant to pay for their meal. Their slogan, “Hope is Delicious,” embodies the emotional profit that comes from doing good work in the community.

What are you waiting for? Master each of the 5 P’s of personal branding, and you’ll be on your way to developing a rock star personal brand that can elevate your career, open new doors, and create fantastic opportunities.

You can learn more about advancing your career at these AMA seminars:
Expanding Your Influence: Understanding the Psychology of Persuasion

Assertiveness Training for Managers 

About the Author(s)

Steve Jones is the author of Start You Up: Rock Star Secrets to Unleash Your Personal Brand & Set Your Career on Fire, advice based on his 30 years in the music business. He is also the author of Brand Like a Rock Star: Lessons from Rock ‘n’ Roll to Make Your Business Rich and Famous (2011). For more information visit www.startyouupbook.com or connect with him on twitter, @rockstarbrands