There’s been a lot of talk in recent years about how we all must design our personal brands. When the term, “personal branding” first started to be used more often a dozen or so years ago, I admit I was unimpressed. Personal branding sounded like it must hurt!

personal branding isn't cattle branding and it doesn't hurt

Misconception #1: Personal branding is something outside of you thus, inauthentic

In my sometimes too literal brain, I imagined cattle being lorded over, herded into bovine torture devices, and being mercilessly branded by cowboys. The cowboys were oblivious to the pain they caused the poor passive animals. “Personal branding” evoked a powerlessness and unwillingness on behalf of whatever it was that was being “branded.”

Everything about the concept felt overly complicated and flew in the face of my ideas about “just being yourself.” 

People being reduced to logos, colors and fonts, and cookie cutter headshots appropriate for their industry, made no sense.  I quickly dismissed something as lofty sounding as “designing a personal brand” as a bit too egocentric for my liking.

Turns out I missed the entire point.

And the truth is, as I would later discover, is the opposite!

What personal branding really is

My friend, Tonya Leigh of The School of Self Image described personal branding this way on her podcast:

“A brand is the way an individual is perceived by those who experience her. In business your brand is your promise to your customer. In personal branding, I believe your brand is the promise to yourself.”

I kind of love that.

lana schlafer book author and life coach

Lana Schlafer, author, Manifest that Miracle

In fact,  “personal branding” has been around a lot longer than the term, the Kardashians, or  even I have been. (Think about people like Cleopatra, Napoleon, and Nelson Mandela.)

Recent client, Lana Schlafer, author and former life coach, described her recent personal branding photography session this way: ” I totally felt like I stepped into a new future version of myself.”

Which leads me to my second misconception about personal branding:

Misconception #2: You need to be famous to have a personal brand. It’s not like I’m Oprah or Meghan Markle!

Maybe it’s my age showing, but who was I to need such a thing?

Yet it turns out designing a personal brand is by no means just for the famous.  Your personal brand affects how you are perceived by everyone around you, from your children to your co-workers to your clients.

A well-designed personal brand can help ensure you are showing up in your life how you want to show up. It can even help you make decisions: Want to know whether to buy that pair of shoes, where to go on vacation, or… aha… which personal brand photographer to hire? Decide based on your personal brand.

By being deliberate about designing your own personal brand, Tonya explains, you get decide how you see yourself.

And since how you see yourself is creating your entire life, why not define yourself on purpose?

Misconception #3 Personal Branding is optional

Instead of always trying to  “fix” yourself, instead shift that energy into creating the next version of yourself, Tonya says. Create your brand or others are going to create it for you.”

In other words, if you. don’t take control of your personal brand, people will fill in the blanks because that is what our human minds do.

Where a personal branding photography session fits in

The photography sessions I create are transformational and creative on many levels. I work closely with clients ahead of time to design a shoot that will best showcase them. Many things go into the recipe, such as wardrobe and location choices, as well as overall look and of the final photographs. In the end, the photographs will reflect them as the people they are becoming, both in life and in their businesses.

richmond, va influencer personal branding shoot

Meghan Eggleston, health, wellness and life coach

Now I’m curious, what steps are you taking this week to design your personal brand? (And as a result, the life you want for yourself ?)

Need any help figuring this out? I’d love to help you. My transformational personal branding photography sessions include an initial brand assessment and the possibility of additional coaching after your receive your photographs to ensure you optimize the possibilities for how and where they can be used. Everything is customized to meet you current needs, wherever you are in your journey.

I know as a solo-preneur or small business owner you’re used to having to mind many details. My sessions allow you to let go of them with confidence. By the time your photography session rolls around, we will be so prepared that you are free to simply show up. The time will have arrived for you to fully step into the open and be pampered and cared for.  The future version of yourself is now! 

PS – I work out of my gorgeous studio in Scotts Addition in Richmond, VA –  but also travel to meet clients across the country (and coming in 2022 to dream destinations!)

Tonya Leigh is a font of wisdom and inspiration on these topics. Her podcast, The School of Self Image, is one of my favorites!

You can listen to her podcast on personal branding here.

Ready to discuss your own personal branding shoot?