Guest Post By: Allison D. Jurgens, Managing Director - 25|25 Marketing, LLC

Check out any of your social media platforms today and you’ll find at least one article in your feed on the power of personal branding. I bet you’ll also find several posts, videos, pictures and more of people attempting to create a personal brand for themselves as well. Forbes, Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, and so many more have written, tweeted, blogged and even built businesses around the concept of developing brands that represent an individual vs. a collective group or organization.

According to Wikipedia, the phrase and concept was popularized in an article written by Tom Peters in 1997 in which he says,

“Start right now: as of this moment you’re going to think of yourself differently! You’re not an “employee” of General Motors, you’re not a “staffer” at General Mills, you’re not a “worker” at General Electric or a “human resource” at General Dynamics (ooops, it’s gone!). Forget the Generals! You don’t “belong to” any company for life, and your chief affiliation isn’t to any particular “function.” You’re not defined by your job title and you’re not confined by your job description. Starting today you are a brand.”

You can read the full article to see the implication of his ‘Call to Action’, but essentially Peters suggested that individuals have a lot of power and the ability to chart their own course. In 1997, he stated that the linear career path is a thing of the past; it now looks more like a checkerboard or a maze. I can attest that my own career has a connect-the-dots kind of quirkiness, largely attributable to my entrepreneurial heart.

However some of the original concepts of personal branding were introduced as early as 1981 by Al Ries and Jack Trout in a book called Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind. While I can’t say that I’ve read the book yet (it has now made my reading list), I did some research to understand why Wikipedia would cite these two fellas in particular.

An excerpt from Chapter 23: Positioning Yourself and Your Career from the book says,

“It is the story of the shoemaker's children all over again. Too often management people don't know how to manage their own careers.

Their own promotional strategy is often based on the naive assumption that ability and hard work are all that counts. And so they dig in and work hard, waiting for the day that someone will tap them on the shoulder with the magic wand.

But that day seldom comes.The truth is, the road to fame and fortune is rarely found within yourself. The only sure way to success is to find yourself a horse to ride. It may be difficult for the ego to accept, but success in life is based more on what others can do for you than on what you can do for yourself.”

In 1981, Baby Boomers would have likely been in middle management following a generation of ‘yes men’ at the top of the executive food chain that were taught not to self-promote, but rather to steadily climb based on hard work and tenacity.

It’s fascinating how much this concept has evolved over the past 25 years. In our technologically advanced day of over-communicating on every front about our own personal greatness, (full disclosure: I might have baby-barfed slightly while typing that phrase), I personally am quite tired of the self-promotion craze.

For consulting agencies and many in the professional services realm, I understand the need to demonstrate expertise by leveraging the know-how of top talent, and I respect the positioning of the company’s experts as a unique differentiator. I also subscribe to this methodology for my own boutique consultancy. There is tremendous value to be gained from authors and contributors of Joe Public that take the time to share what they’ve learned.

BUT... there is so much noise now and everyone is an expert.

Everyone has an opinion and everyone's a critic. I am a firm believer in the value of content marketing and often that requires experts talking about their domain; I have experienced the benefits through my clients and my own firm. As a marketer, I love that we have so many great avenues by which to engage with our ‘tribe’, and it has been a fantastic journey over the past 15+ years of my career to explore all of these opportunities.

At the risk of sounding like a hypocrite, I think it’s time for us to remember and exercise some Buddhist wisdom, “Everything in moderation, including moderation.”

Building your personal brand should be something you do with thought and integrity; not haphazardly. Using social media to tell your professional network how late you are working; what shoes you
are wearing to an upcoming conference; posting videos of you giving career advice and professional tips while sitting in your car; and distributing selfies from every industry mixer is ... well... unflattering.
What and how you communicate is equally important to employers and, more importantly, their clients. Although the lines are getting blurred between what’s personal and professional nowadays, you
have to remember that what you post is available when employers are assessing your ability to become a team member of an organization.

That’s right... I said T-E-A-M. Let’s talk about this a moment.

Perhaps I’m a bit old-fashioned or maybe it’s all those years as center midfielder on the soccer field, or it could even be my upbringing as a Christian, but I like the gratification of working hard for and with​ a team. I take comfort in knowing that my personal success is linked to something bigger than just me talking, tweeting, snapping, blogging, etc. about myself.

As a hiring manager, I want people that are concerned about the greater good and the company’s objectives. As a business owner, I want to work with people that are committed to the mission for which they have been hired. I see nothing wrong with my colleagues, employees and partners generating materials around their unique expertise because this also helps the organization provided it’s done with class and professionalism.

There is a fine line between what is destructive to corporate branding and what is considered personal branding. How do companies that rely on their hired professional experts for business continuity manage employees who post something contradictory to the core essence of the company on a channel that also touches their clients? Do business owners have the ability and right to reprimand or demand the employee remove the offensive post? What options do you (the employee) leave the organization when you post something to boost your personal visibility that can be harmful to the corporate brand, reputation and image for which you are employed, and by extension, representing?

I have a lot more questions than answers on this subject; it’s an interesting area of human resource management that I would imagine is exploding right now.

My question to the greater universe is, “What’s wrong with asking for company loyalty?”

If you are being rewarded through benefits, compensation, promotions and interesting assignments, having a great company to work for is a tremendous asset and gift - take it from a small business owner. The security and comfort of knowing you have a stable income, and that you don’t have to rely on your personal brand to build a business or generate your next paycheck is a blessing.

So is it wrong of employers to expect some loyalty in return? To have some comfort in knowing their hired guns, gurus and experts aren’t just building up a personal brand on company time, but are truly motivated to do a great job for the sake of a larger, collective goal?

Universe? Are you out there? What are your thoughts?

25I25 Marketing is a Houston-based boutique marketing and product management consultancy that specializes in B2B commercialization strategies that deliver conversions and pipeline growth. Are you interested in contributing to the AMA Houston Blog like 25I25 Marketing and so many others? If you're a member of AMA Houston and have expert insight into your industry, or just a story to tell, send us your pitch to us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . 

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