Personal Branding: Becoming Known Well

As humans, we all long to be known and valued for who we really are—to be ourselves and to be appreciated for what is most unique and essential about us. Such recognition is especially critical when it comes to our working lives, where a huge percentage of our success and satisfaction is bound. But most of don’t how to define and shape an identity that helps other people understand why we matter—or how to let others know what’s best and most distinctive about us in the working world and through the businesses where we spend most of our time. That’s where an archetypal approach to “personal branding” comes in.

All of us find certain characters more fascinating, more admirable—more like us or not like us—than others. The characters we relate to most give us significant clues about our own strengths and values, the passion and purpose that defines who we are at our best, and the meaning and motivation that fuels the great things we’re able to do. When we understand and convey what’s best about ourselves through an archetypal lens, we ultimately can express the kind of zeal that demands attention. Just think about these well-known examples of people who conjure a great archetypal storyline:

  • Steve Jobs, whose Revolutionary drive to think differently has become his legacy
  • Oprah Winfrey, an accessible Sage who sees her TV network as the world’s largest classroom
  • Richard Branson, an Explorer whose insatiable appetite for new ground has led him to start nearly 200 companies under the Virgin Group brand

Personal branding isn’t exclusively the terrain of the rich and famous, though. It’s possible for any one of us who becomes consciously intentional about how we’re perceived; where we focus our energy and attention; the stances we take; the beliefs we allow to fuel our behaviors—and the many other things we say and do that ultimately create a persona that others can see and feel. The key to shaping our own personal brands and professional identities is to understand which archetypal characters and plotlines best personify our purpose and promise, and make conscious choices about how we show up in response.

—Cindy Atlee