This question “Is personal branding a fad?” came up on Quora recently so I thought I’d give my view which I’m happy to share here.
The term personal branding may be relatively new, but the concept has been around much longer. There is some misconception that personal branding is all about the hard sell and this is where the term gets a bad name (Obnoxious?). The reality is that we’re ALWAYS selling ourselves. Selling in this sense means trying to influence others to buy us / believe us / like us / hire us etc.
What’s changed is the environment in which we’re now able to do that. And it’s this that is forcing us to be much clearer as to how we choose to define ourselves. Before, it was adequate to merely be mindful as to how we presented ourselves in the flesh. This kept it pretty simple, as long as we dressed and spoke consistently in line with our image of ourselves and what we wanted to project, that was fine. But now we can present ourselves online in endless ways – blogs, personal sites, YouTube etc. And it is because of the extensive possibilities of online presences that we need to think a bit harder about what we want to say about ourselves. We cannot escape the harsh reality of earning cash. Nor can we escape the fact that we are all naturally nosey. So, if we are presented with the opportunity of possibly working with someone (hiring them, buying their stuff etc), we are going to seek out information about them. Just as we would before purchasing a product. Hence the need to be clear as to what you want to say about yourself and to present that consistently. We know from the world of corporate brands that to be bought you need to build trust, and this is done through communicating a consistent message and delivering upon a promise consistently. So it’s no surprise that people are now adopting these practices. Let’s not forget the fact that the world is more competitive in terms of jobs, and those that have grasped this are those that are getting the work. So, it will soon be a neccessity for the majority if they want to keep up.
So, to answer the question, no it’s not fad. At least the concept isn’t. It’s here to stay.