Branding your personal life

June 19, 2013

We've all heard about personal branding in business, but in your personal life, opportunities to brand yourself abound as well. How do you express your brand in your free time?

My husband and I are in the process of listing our house for sale and our realtor came over to give us pointers on how to stage it better. One of her suggestions was to hang an American flag off the front porch so the house was instantly recognizable. While I consider myself a patriotic person and don’t personally have an issue with displaying a flag, I did start to wonder how other people would judge or “brand” me. Would my socialist-leaning neighbors roll their eyes? Would people assume we’re conservative? Would it actually turn off as many buyers as it might attract?

We all have heard a million times over that personal branding is important for your career, especially when job searching. You need to actively manage your brand by crafting your story, understanding your differentiation, and looking the part. But in your personal life, opportunities to brand yourself abound as well. Only it’s less likely you’re consciously thinking about it as much as you do professionally, and more likely that you just gravitate toward certain things.

Your clothes, your car and your home are the prime areas for self-expression. Do you dress on trend or hold on to the same wardrobe staples? Are you more likely to be seen shopping for clothes at Kohl’s, LL Bean or Nordstrom? Do you plaster the back of your car with bumper stickers and stick-figure families? Do you live in an organized community where someone else takes care of the outdoor areas or do you dwell in a freestanding home? All of these things add up to paint a picture of who you are, what you value and what your interests are.

And just like with a corporate brand, a perception of who you are develops whether you actively cultivate the outbound message. I like to think of myself as flying under the radar, forcing people to judge me based on interactions (or my driving skills) rather than my political or social statements. But while I may choose not to have bumper stickers, the fact that I drive a hybrid model is a telling representation of my value system. My husband drives a Chevy Volt and joked when he first got it that he had to refrain from waving at other Volt drivers, like they belonged to the same club. I may be past my high-school years of dying my hair purple and wearing fishnets with Doc Martens, but I eagerly peer in the window of any car sporting a sticker from my alma mater and feel a small bond with the person driving.

Whether we fly a flag or not, the fact that we live in a colonial style home in a good school district and we’ve landscaped the front area gives an indication of the type of people we are and what we care about. And hopefully there are enough people out there who care about the same things who will want to buy our house.

So tell us – how do you express yourself and “brand” your personal life?

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