Bring Back Big Branding

Defining and communicating your personal brand will also help you bolster your sales.
Magazine Contributor
4 min read

This story appears in the January 2010 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Personal branding has taken a back seat these days. Sure, we give it some lip service, but it's nothing compared with the 1999 boardroom branding phenomena Tom Peters started back in the day. The way I see it, you've got to stand for something--in a really big way--or you might as well just go away.

You do this not just so you can build a brand and get noticed, but also because you absolutely do better work. When you stand for something big, you like the work you do more. You make and fulfill more commitments. People notice you, so you make more money and close more sales. But I notice too many salespeople in this economy have lost touch or watered down their personal brand. They might want to stand for something big, but they just keep their head down and hold on to what they can. This is a dangerous proposition.

Playing it safe, not making waves, or doing just enough so you don't screw up is not a solid strategy to get ahead or increase sales. The second you start playing not to lose, you're sure never to win. This kind of safety provides no safety net at all.

Realize this first: Anytime a potential client, customer, colleague, manager or boss considers working with you, the first thing they want to know is how you serve their needs and their needs alone. And that is precisely where your new and improved 2010 brand comes in.

Once you show people exactly whom you serve and how you can help them, you start to play the sales game to win. This is what I call your "who and do what" statement. Your who and do what statement clearly articulates whom you help and what you help them do or get:

  • If you are in business for yourself, it is your target market and what you help it get.
  • If you work for a company, it is your managers or bosses and what you help them get.
  • If you are in sales, it is the kind of customers you serve and what you help them get (but don't forget about your boss and what you help him get).

As an example, here is my who and do what statement: "I help business owners and sales professionals get more clients." Simple enough, right? Direct and easy to understand. Nothing sexy or spicy about it.

But this is only half of the personal brand equation. It's not enough. There are lots of people out there who help the people you help get what they want. You aren't the only one. They must still consider why you do what you do.

Tell me, why do you do it anyway? Why do you get up every day to help them get what they want? The "why" not only governs the choices you make, but it also affects how others connect emotionally to what you do for them. The why is reflected in everything you do. It completes your personal brand. And it is how you win the game and pick up the big bucks. This is where the people you serve get to see the big, bold, provocative you show up and deliver what you promised you would so that they continue coming to you for help.

My why I do it statement is: "Because I want to help people think bigger about who they are and what they offer the world." I can go one step further and turn my why statement into a tag line to spread my personal brand and increase my sales potential: "The guy to call when you are tired of thinking small." This expresses the most fundamental, deepest part of my character.

Your who and do what statement combined with a powerful why statement is the most organic and effective personally branded expression of yourself. This is not a special you run, it's not the topic du jour or sales pitch of the day. It's got to be a standard menu item, forever. It's all you, all the time. And it gets straight to the core of the sales process so that people can see immediately how and why they should buy from you.

Michael Port is a New York Times bestselling author of four books: Book Yourself Solid, Beyond Booked Solid, The Contrarian Effect, and his latest and most provocative, The Think Big Manifesto. Learn more at

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