Standing Up, Standing Out:
Personal vs. Professional Brand

Welcome back, if you’re joining us again from last week and if you’re just tuning in now and haven’t read Part I of this series, I strongly recommend that you click here to do that before going on.

Last week we talked about some of the necessary things to consider when developing a strong personal brand and introduced the idea that a professional brand is an extension of the personal. One of the biggest misconceptions about professional presence or professional brand is that it must be separate from your personal; how many times have you heard someone say, “Leave your personal life at the door.”

With the advance of the wholehearted living movement and the blurring of the personal and professional on social media, we’re starting to see a shift in the concept of professional presence and branding that marries the two in a tangible way. People work best when they get to bring their whole selves to work; this kind of alignment between the two is more important than ever.

Brand Pillar Two:
You Might Be at the Center, but What’s in Your Orbit?

Once you’ve given some consideration to who you are and how you want to express that, it’s time to think about the what’s around you. For people to know, like and trust you, the biggest key is minimizing the potential for cognitive dissonance.

Ideally you want people to think, when you tell them what you do, that it makes sense, that it fits with what they’re seeing of you. The first pillar is about centering you. This pillar is about centering your audience.

Here’s what to consider when thinking of your orbit:

  • What are the services you provide? Do you do civil, family or child protection mediation? Each one requires a different level of formality and your brand needs to reflect that.
  • Who is your client? Whether you work with kids or adults or both, you’ll need to create a sense of harmony visually to make it easier to build rapport.
  • Where do you work? Do you live in an urban, suburban, or rural community? Expectations of formality vary city to city and community to community.
  • Do you work in an office or are you solo? If you’re working in or for an organization, then their guidelines must be considered, since you’re representing the company wherever you go. If you’re a solopreneur, then you’ll have a bit more latitude.
  • What do people expect a mediator to look like? If organization and order is part of your job, then looking like you’re organized and neat and tidy will help build trust with clients.
  • How might people expect a mediator to behave? Your verbal and non-verbal signals need to line up with your level of professionalism and your presence (online and off) speaks about your ability to successfully mediate tricky disputes.

In the end, matching your personal brand and visual expression of it to the kinds of things you do and to your audience helps people see you clearly as a professional and be more likely to hire you. You can’t afford not to be strategic.

Stay tuned – next week we’ll have Brand Pillars Three and Four, all about showing up and checking in for the conclusion of our branding series.

Have a thought? Agree? Disagree? Let us know, comment below!

Katherine Lazaruk

Katherine Lazaruk, AICI, CIC is an image and professional branding consultant in Vancouver. In addition to being the force behind ICU Image Consulting, she is a sessional instructor in the Image Consulting Program for Langara College and serves as Secretary for the Canada Chapter Board of AICI.

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