Part one in a three-part series on personal branding. avant-garde

In her book Career Moves, San Antonio author, speaker, and leadership development expert Dondi Scumaci writes, “You are a package of skills, capabilities, experiences, and results. Regardless of where you work or whom you work for, this package is what you sell. It is the product you bring to the market.”

Essentially what Scumaci is saying is that you are a brand. As such, you should be mindful of your personal brand message and the PR campaign you are running.

Personal brand, you ask? If you’re not sure what to do, let’s start with the basics.

Personal Branding

Take a moment to think about your favorite brand. Whether it’s a beverage, clothing line, or musician, focus on the feelings that come to mind when you think about that particular brand. Is it mainstream or is it uniquely avant-garde?

When you think about a brand you like, it evokes positive feelings and words. As you develop your personal brand, think about words you can use to evoke the feelings you want your employer and coworkers to think of when they think about you. Fine tuning your brand begins with reflection.

How are you Unique?

Everyone has unique skills, opinions, and experiences to offer. As you think about what makes you unique, use these qualities as an element of your personal brand. For example, if you’re a training developer who also loves to travel, incorporate both of those elements into your brand. Remember, your personal brand is who you are as a person. When it comes to creating a personal brand, stick to your passions and focus on what you want to be recognized for. These things will help you create a genuine personal brand that people will want to get to know.

Try to define yourself in a single unique word or concept. Example: a “process improvement expert” who “always completed projects on time and under budget.” An essential component of a strong personal brand is to have confidence in your strengths. Your strengths and talents will make your personal brand shine as you build a name for yourself in your industry.

To discover your strengths, take a look at what excites you most about your career, what you do differently from everyone else, and where you’ve experienced the most success. Think about other people and how they perceive you. Ask others how they perceive your strengths and then use this information as you create your personal brand. These strengths will help you define who you are as a professional.

What are your passions? To discover your passions, think about what you love doing on the weekends or in your free time. For example, if you love building remote controlled toys and writing, these are unique qualities you can use to define your personal brand.


Developing a personal brand takes time, so don’t feel like you have to do it all in one sitting. Reflect on what is important to you and work with it. Collect insight from others to incorporate. Continue mixing it up until you have the personal brand that truly resonates with you. Developing your avant-garde brand is a process.

An exercise to help you get started is to jot down at least five traits that describe you. Remember to think about what makes you unique, what you consider your top strengths and passions, and how others may refer to you. Think of words that describe your personality, values, and worth ethic.


  • What are three things that make you memorable?
  • What unique talents are genetically coded to you? In other words, what has always come easily for you?
  • What do people compliment you for?
  • What do you love or never grow tired of talking about in your personal life? What about your work?

Need some ideas? Check out this LinkedIn post Infographic: ONE Word to Describe Your Personal Brand by Shelley Hammell. Here she challenges you to boil your value down to just one word. Do you know what that word would be?

It’s a Process

With these questions, you should be able to come up with quite a few powerful descriptive words. As your list begins to grow, start narrowing it down into the words you want to be recognized by. Begin crafting a sentence or two that encapsulates who you are.

Developing your personal brand is a process, and when you think about your passion and what drives you, then you are off to a great start. In the next post, I’ll cover the importance of incorporating character and mission into your brand. You’ll begin to see how your avant-garde brand can set you apart from the competition.

Sheila Callaham is an author, motivational coach, and longtime communications and change management professional.

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