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Personal Branding: Can it increase your happiness?

by Jessi LaCosta

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Personal Branding: Can it increase your happiness? “We need to find the courage to say NO to the things and people that are not serving us if we want to rediscover ourselves and live our lives with authenticity.”  - Barbara de Angelis

Many other professionals have asked me why all the fuss about personal branding and life-fulfillment?
In fact,  some have even questioned the value – and proposed that personal branding is nothing more than “image management.” They say anyone telling us otherwise is just marketing or selling.
At first I rebuked – and with somewhat a defensive tone - answered with all the typical reasons to work on your personal brand:
  • Laser-like career focus
  • Confidence building
  • Standing out in a Crowd
  • Becoming known as a Subject Matter Expert
  • Ability to feel more valued
  • Ability to offer more value to others
  • Improved communication skills
  • Improved relationships
And the list went on. But then I started thinking there is some truth to this notion of Personal Branding having some bad applications – that is if you are branding yourself for superficial reasons. Instead of spewing out all the things that personal branding is not, and when not to use it, I offered where it stems from – a genuine, honest and strategic place.

It is about promises, solutions – how you offer them, and live up to them, and how all that genuinely reflects on your reputation.  It is a full cycle of who you are – what you do – how it affects others – and then how their reactions to you also inspire your life.  It is a repeating pattern.   
And when you accept that you have a brand whether you know it or not – you can move forward and manage that brand (reputation) so that others “get who you are” the part of you, you really want them to know.

Every time you answer the phone, type an email – walk into a room, order dinner, even speak with your child’s teacher after school – you are building your brand. In marketing we call this touch-points. Others have a perception of you after you have “touched” them.  Is their perception the one you wanted them to have? Did you make an impression that is true to who you are? When it boils down – personal branding is about an AUTHENTIC reflection of your beliefs, talents, skills, values – and yes the promises you make to others about the solutions you offer. You may have heard about the elevator speech; the 7 – 15 seconds you have to tell someone who you are, what you do and how you do it differently – also known as the Unique Selling Proposition.
I like to think of it more as the Unique Solution Proposition. It feels less manufactured and less manipulative.

Every one of us can offer a solution – we are all unique and talented and can be helpful in some way to some one – somewhere. Where I bank promises to offer individualized service and to always know me by name. That solution of focusing on me - a small business owner - as being equally important as their larger clients, brings comfort to me. They have lived up to their promise for the 2 years I have been a member. I get their brand and I believe in them. And it comes full circle for them as I refer others – not because of an incentive, but because I think the bank can offer beneficial solutions.
Individuals can use this same technique.

When I work with clients to help uncover their personal brands – I take them through a five-step process:

Powerful Personal Brand

It starts with investigating who you are (values, skills, beliefs, talents etc.) and very importantly what you are not. Then we connect these ideas with goals and objectives – making it real to use in life and career applications. From there we devise a plan for messaging and communicating the brand solutions and promises to the outside world.

Personal Branding is about realizing our fullest potential by understanding our values, skills and strengths – developing them into messages, promises and solutions that we all can benefit from. It helps us stay on track – heading to happiness and success. When we are aware of our brand and work with it – we attract like-minded people and are attracted to rewarding experiences. So, I say that when we use this tool effectively, genuinely and with an authentic goal in mind – we are actually using a life-building tactic to generate productivity and personal and professional fulfillment.

Jessi LaCosta is founder of BlueRio Strategies. She is one of the leading authorities who focuses on organizational effectiveness through Brand Leadership, Visioning and Strategic Planning for nonprofits as well other social-cause and mission-focused organizations and their leaders. She is a dynamic coach and strategist with more than 15 years experience in reputation management, brand development and organizational communication. Her firm serves professionals, entrepreneurs, and non-profit organizations on a national basis. She has a BS in Corporate Media, an MA in Publication Design and a Certificate in Leadership. She is a dedicated volunteer for several San Diego nonprofits and serves as a board member at the University of Baltimore Alumni Association and just elected to the San Diego chapter's OD Network Board of Govenors as the Co-Vice President of Marketing and Membership. For more information, please visit, email: or call (760) 720-9567.

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