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Developing Your Personal Brand

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Your Personal Brand

Like it or not, you’re in the business of selling yourself. One of the key aspects to standing out in a sea of other candidates is developing a clear brand. We call it positioning. And positioning is the heart of sales.

Creating more opportunities begins with understanding yourself and your value proposition. What are you the very best at doing? How do you stand apart from other candidates? Who are you, and why should they choose you?

Focus on your three core strengths and leave out the minor ones. The key to an effective personal brand is to be simultaneously convincing and memorable.

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We all know a great positioning when we see it. Maybe it’s a product you love or that author that resonates with you. But few people think about their positioning. Intentionally developing your personal brand can pay off big. Those that do tend to develop a constant flow of opportunities. People see opportunity X and quickly know person Y is known for helping with it. It simplifies decision-making for the decision-maker. See X, call Y. Brands are powerful, and developing your brand will be powerful for you.

Photo by Austin Chan on Unsplash

A hungry bear plants itself in one spot on the riverbed. If it’s in the right place, lunch will deliver itself. That’s the beauty of effective positioning. If you place yourself properly and stay there, opportunities drop in your lap like a wriggling salmon. If you don’t, you end up cold and wet, with nothing to show for it. Without sticking to a bold, strategically crafted personal brand that effectively differentiates you from the competition, growth grinds to a halt.

Three Unique Concepts

So what makes for a great personal brand? A great personal brand focuses on three unique concepts to triangulate your position.

Why three? Two reasons: believability and memorability.

Researcher Suzanne B Shu and her team at UCLA found that three attributes is the most believable when it comes to advertising claims. They tested one, two, three and more attributes, all the way to ten. Three attributes were the most believable. To quote the research paper: “three charms but four alarms.” Things in threes are also the most memorable. Researcher Jeffrey N. Rouder at the University of Missouri found that around three concepts are typically how many things most people can easily remember.

“If you brand it will they come? While it may sound like one big field of dreams, a carefully crafted and customized personal brand will not only convey your value and define your vision it will also offer a unique perspective to prospective employers and hiring managers. It’s all about marketing yourself in the way that is going to get you noticed and essentially get you the job.” – Branding Statement VS. Objective For Resume

There’s a magic with three. Focus on your three core strengths and leave out the minor ones. The key to an effective personal brand is to be simultaneously convincing and memorable.

Key Questions

When considering what three aspects to focus on, ask yourself these key questions:

  1. What are my personal strengths?
  2. What are the needs of the marketplace?
  3. What are the strengths of my competitors?
  4. How bold do I need to be in order to stand out?
  5. How can I use specific words that will resonate with my target audience?

As you answer these questions, you’ll not only develop a laundry list of all your value propositions, you’ll also figure out where to focus.

The more precisely you refine your personal brand, the more impact it will have. If you think of a few of your own favorite brands, you’ll see this to be true. See if you can get it down to three words or three short concepts. Once you get your three, cut the words. What are the bare minimum words necessary to convey your message? Once you have them, get clever. Can you make the concepts rhyme? Use alliteration? Rhyming and alliteration make things easy to remember. Clarity is a rarity. And, memorability matters.

Think back to the bear on the river. What if in its anxiety to catch fish it wandered back and forth to wherever it last saw a salmon leap? It would waste valuable time and give other bears the opportunity to carve out premium spots for themselves. The smart bear plants itself in a good spot and waits for dinner.

Mo Bunnell is the Founder and CEO of Bunnell Idea Group, who has taught sales skills to over 12,000 people. You can learn Mo’s other techniques for growing influence in his new book, THE SNOWBALL SYSTEM: How to Win More Business and Turn Clients into Raving Fans, at and get a gratis, 8-part video training on creating demand at

Here is the original study on the power of three in messaging and marketing. I found it highly readable and insightful: Shu, S. B., & Carolson, K. A. (2014). When three charms but four alarms: Identifying the optimal number of claims in persuasion settings. Journal of Marketing 78(1), 127-139.

For the core research on how much we can typically remember, see this: Rouder, J. N., Morey, R. D., Cowan, N., Zwilling, C. E., Morey, C. C., & Pratte, M. S. (2008). An assessment of fixed-capacity modelsof visual working memory. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105(16), 5975-5979.

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