On the way to be seen differently: personal rebranding or personal (r)evolution?

A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine left a comment under one of my LinkedIn posts saying he’d be interested to learn more about personal rebranding. It inspired me to come up with a LinkedIn poll where I asked my audience whether it is possible to rebrand oneself in general.

These were the results:

While most responses were supporting the fact that we can rebrand ourselves and only 1% indicated that it is not possible, other respondents marked “not sure” or “not fully” (30% in total). It got me thinking about the concept of personal rebranding even more.

When defining personal branding, I like to use the following:

Your personal brand is an impression, a gut feeling, or an opinion that other people have about you.

It becomes clear that other people perceive us in one or another way because of the way we brand ourselves, intentionally or accidentally. Because of the way we look, speak, do our work, and create content on social media and beyond, we become known for something. For instance, my friend Ornela is known to be the go-to person when it comes to investing in art, NFTs, and other art-related things. That’s what her personal brand is about. However, at the same time, Ornela is the Head of Marketing at one of the pharma companies. She didn’t have to change her job title or forget one of the areas of her expertise. She can simply be great at several things.

The reason I looked into Ornela’s case is that people sometimes tend to see only black and white when it comes to personal branding. Changing our job titles and moving into a different field of expertise or industry is a natural (r)evolution of one’s career and professional journey. Humans are much more interesting and at the same time complicated than what their job titles or skills say. After discovering something they are passionate about, they might want to dig deeper into the topic and become known for something else.

Now is that what we can call personal rebranding?

There are different ways to define rebranding in general. The one I will use in this article comes from the Cambridge dictionary:

Rebranding is the act of changing the way that an organisation, business company, or product appears to the public.

It can be applied to humans, too. We can change the way we appear to the public. However, we are not always able to hide what was before we changed that look and feel to the public. There is a story behind every single of us and even though we change career paths and job titles, that story is there. We may delete it from our social media profiles, but not necessarily from the heads of people that have known us for a longer time. Therefore, I would say that personal rebranding is possible only to some extent.

Yet, I also think that we should not hide our story because it’s something that might make us perceived as more exciting human beings.

 Here are the following things I suggest you do if you want to improve the way others see you.

1. Embrace your story

The fact that you were on one professional path and then decided to change it or add a new interest to your list most of the time does not make you seem lost. If you can use storytelling and explain why there was a shift, it will make you seem like a thoughtful individual that was brave to make a change. With the advent of the pandemic, there were many cases when people had to become creative to find new roles or decided to change their paths after realizing it wasn’t something for them. Did they rebrand themselves? You could call it that way, but what is important here is the WHY and the story that each of them had.

2. Focus on the current (or the most important) target audience

You may have several interests in your professional life. Your job title may say one thing, but your heart belongs to the other field even though you do not intend to change your job for the moment. It is okay and even awesome to have several areas of interest and include more than one keyword in your personal brand positioning. You may be a lawyer who designs clothes during her free time. You may be a financial analyst who is all about sustainability. You do not need to “rebrand” yourself; you can be both. The important thing besides embracing your story is to think about which target audience you want to reach in the first place and how you would like to be perceived by them. It does not mean you have to choose one keyword only, but you can either be a financial analyst with a strong interest in sustainability or a sustainability enthusiast who does financial analysis during the day.

3. Be vulnerable if you feel like it. Be YOU.

Sometimes we are worried to show the other side of our personal brands. Mothers-entrepreneurs sometimes do not wish to reveal they have kids in public as they are worried that they will not be approached by clients who might assume they are not available for project assignments. A lawyer with a strong interest in fashion design might be publicly hiding the fact that she creates clothes as her employer might assume she does it during work hours. There are situations when we feel that we must stick to just one keyword when describing what we do. But do we really have to? If we embrace our story, if we show who we are, if we are vulnerable if we feel like it, it will just make us more interesting human beings. It will make us US.

The truth is that you may not need to think about a personal rebranding strategy. You can change your job title, improve your skills, and start positioning yourself as an expert in a different field than before. It might change the way others see you. You may call this personal rebranding, but I call it a personal (r)evolution. Your VALUES are at the CORE of your personal brand, and they are long-lasting.  Personal(r)evolution is a process that is natural for those that invest in personal growth, self-awareness, and discovering the path that they feel great about.

You may find this article in the Lithuanian language here.