Building Your Personal Brand

By Nicole M. DeRosa, CPA, MAcc, Wiss – December 18, 2023
Building Your Personal Brand

In high-performing organizations, everyone is typically exceptional. To clearly differentiate yourself and your brand, you need to do more than just have a good reputation and be good at your job. 

Brand Versus Reputation

We oftentimes link reputation and brand together, and although they are not one in the same, it is very important to first understand how they work together. A brand is the way you present yourself to the world. A reputation is how others collectively perceive you. You control your brand, while a reputation is decided by others’ opinions of you, and thus, reputation directly impacts your brand. Reputation has several components:

  • First impressions — based on outward appearance and things that are evident right away before someone digs deeper
  • Relationships formed — can be good or bad
  • Credibility — whether something can be believed as true
  • Reliability — being able to have trust and faith

Personal brand, on the other hand, is a bit more involved:

  • Voice and values — what you say about what you believe
  • Content — what attracts your audience
  • Creativity — what will help differentiate your brand
  • Personality — how you want people to see you
  • Authenticity — aim to align your brand with who you are
  • Relatability — be real

So how does one go about creating their own brand? Let’s break it down.

What is Your Way?

Take a look inward; identify and reflect to harness your existing skills and competencies to deliberately demonstrate behaviors that make your greatest strengths and passions outwardly visible. Use knowledge to reflect on what new skills you might need to develop to get to where you want to go.

Who is Your Target Audience?

Just like in the commercial world, a brand cannot succeed if no one is aware of it. Identify individuals or groups and analyze their relevancy and perspective. Evaluate their willingness to engage as well as their influence and involvement with your previ­ously identified “why.”

What Will Differentiate You?

Look back to your “why” and try not to recreate the wheel. Leverage your existing skillset and be intentional with your behaviors, greatest strengths and passions. “Do what you love, love what you do” was originally attributed to Confucius; he also said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” I think he was onto something.

Where Will You Execute Your Master Plan?

For this, you will want to look back to your “who” and strategize accordingly. Examples include your job, social media, your community or perhaps a charitable organization.

When Will You Execute?

Timing is a very important factor when it comes to execution. The key to proper execution does not necessarily mean jumping into the deep end. Set SMART goals to help achieve the desired outcome:

  • Specific: Clearly state an objective and define what you expect, who will do it and detail accountability. Be thorough.
  • Measurable: Identify how you know the objective was accomplished to help you determine if you are making progress.
  • Achievable: Be realistic and reason­able so that you can set yourself up for success, bearing in mind that there are typically always factors beyond your control.
  • Relevant: Make sure that your goal makes sense and that it meets your purpose of your “why.”
  • Time-bound: Include a specific timeline for completion and include benchmarks to ensure you are staying on track.

How Will You Execute?

Make sure you can bring it all together by utilizing your previously established SMART goals and keep in mind that your personal brand does not have to relate to your day job. If there is a will, there is usually a way, and you can oftentimes link the two together. There is no rulebook when it comes to the execution of a brand, and there is certainly no “one-size-fits-all” approach, so thinking outside the box is a common approach. At the end of the day, your brand is unique to you.

Concluding Tips

  • Have a focus.
  • Be your authentic self.
  • Tell a story.
  • Be consistent.
  • Be ready to fail.
  • Create a positive impact.
  • Follow a successful example.
  • Live your brand.
  • Let other people tell your story.        
  • Leave a legacy behind. 

Nicole M. DeRosa

Nicole M. DeRosa

Nicole DeRosa, CPA, MAcc, is a partner at Wiss and a member of the NJCPA Board of Trustees.

More content by Nicole M. DeRosa:

This article appeared in the winter 2023/24 issue of New Jersey CPA magazine. Read the full issue.