What's your Personal Brand?

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I've been viewing a training video on Web design project management that my colleague Audrey Romano suggested and I ran into an interesting concept that I think will help me understand navigating personnel dynamics in future projects.

The training was from Kelly Goto who had been a keynote speaker a few years ago for a Penn State Web conference. At the time she had mentioned the concept of "branding" which I admit I equated to making sure we had all our logos in the right place and stuck to variations in the blue and white palette. In my defense, I had to leave her presentation early.

But this time, I got a better idea of what she meant by "branding" which is that you want to present products and services which genuinely reflect your corporate philosophy. For instance Penn State has always represented quality for value to me. That is, even though Penn State is dedicated to serving the state of Pennsylvania as a lower-cost "public" institution, it has always maintained a world class curriculum in many specialties. This is why a "Penn State" degree means so much.

I have to say that growing up in Maryland, we were always a little more impressed when an out-of-stater was able to get admitted to Penn State and had a choice besides the University of Maryland (although that university has improved a lot academically).

When thinking about Penn State employees, I think it's a safe bet that almost all of us do appreciate the Penn State "brand" and want to make sure that it's never degraded in any way. Interestingly though that can be a source of conflict as well as harmony, because we all have different ideas of what "protecting the brand" means.

This is where I think the concept of "personal brand" or "reputation/values" is important. For instance, some of us want to be as innovative as possible, but others want to be as secure as possible. Similarly some people want services to be as flexible as possible, but others want them simple and easy. Or maybe you discuss whether documentation should be "detailed" so it can account for different scenarios or just present the facts in a easily digestible manner. All of these are important considerations, but unfortunately they usually can't all be satisfied all the time. So we have to negotiate (and some of Penn Staters negotiate more effectively than others).

I think I know what my brand is, and it's probably straightforward, persistent, systematic and in-depth (I can give you plenty of specific examples if you just ask). I'm also all about the flexibility to accommodate all valid learning objectives.

Alas though...it's rarely "easy going".

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