Many people are familiar with the marketing term brand management – an application of marketing techniques to a specific line of products or service. Large corporations like Coca Cola, Nike and Toyota are masters at branding. These corporations are known across the globe and their names are synonymous with terms like valuable, reliable and quality. They invest millions of dollars in advertising and marketing, branding their product concepts in the minds of everyday people.

Entrepreneurs can do the same on a much smaller scale by investing in his or her personal brand. Personal Branding is a career management tool that uses your unique qualities, gifts and passions to distinguish you from the competition. According to William Arruda, of Reach Communication Consulting, the Personal Branding Guru, “What makes you unique, makes you successful.”

Personal Branding is not about getting a logo, letterhead and a website. It is your way of doing business; it is the tool that helps you build a reputation based on values and principles that are important to you. It is the creative license to operate in a manner that is unique to you, that helps you build a successful business that you love.

If you are not sure about your brand, answer the following questions:

1. Are you happy with the way your career is going?
2. Have you reached the level of success that you desire?
3. Do you wake up excited about going to work each morning?
4. Can you honestly say how you are different from your competition?
5. Can your clients say how you are different from your competition?
6. Are you solving a problem with the work that you do?

If you have answered no to any of these questions, then you do not have a clear brand. You are not communicating a clear message to a specific target audience. Perhaps your target audience is too broad or you have not defined your unique promise of value.

A good way to start developing your personal brand is to understand how others perceive you. Feedback from family, friends, peers and your managers about your strengths and weaknesses could provide you with the necessary building blocks to develop themes that can help you to build your personal brand.

Taking the time to invest in your personal brand is a sure way to build a lasting reputation as a leader in your industry.