Personal Branding: What's Your Sizzle?


Have you ever noticed that the really cool kids all seem to be known by one name?  They’ve created a personal brand. “LeBron” is a hot one name brand right now for NBA fans. (Even those who aren’t fans have at least heard of LeBron James, hailed as the up and coming Michael Jordan.)  In fashion there’s Tommy, whose flag logo is pervasive on clothes across America.  Madonna has managed to keep her one name brand alive for years through her series of personal reinventions. What makes the stars stand out?

1)      There’s something very distinctive about them

2)      They have a passion for what they do.

Each of us has a personal brand as well.

If you don’t already have one, create your own personal brand. Think about what it is that you have a passion for that sets you apart and makes you unique. In a time of so much transition, it’s more important than ever to have a personal brand.  Tom Peters in his seminal work on personal branding back in the 90s, recalls that old advertising adage “don’t sell the steak, sell the sizzle.”  Each one of us has a unique sizzle. Find it and pursue it.

For more on Personal Branding please see my interview on WJHL-TV from my four-part series, Social Media 101.


  • Kris Kaneta says:

    Interesting that you would post this piece. I recently blogged about LeBron James needing to re-assess the importance of his personal brand. Don’t get me wrong, he is still a formidable brand to be sure.

  • Jeff Brunson says:

    Mel, enjoyed your TV spot … good work.
    Next week, I will be sharing with my Coaching Clients my new self-study book on Personal Brand – putting this together was a commitment I made at FloatCamp09. Thought you might be interested—the-power-of-personal-brand/7188487

  • maryellenmiller says:

    Thanks so much for your comments Kris and Jeff. Kris, I wondered if I would get some comments about LeBron’s recent antics and I appreciate your thoughts and blog post about that. Jeff, can’t wait to read your book and congratulations!

    • Kris Kaneta says:

      Hi Mary – No problem. I should say that since I criticized LeBron’s behavior, he has since come forward and apologized. The NBA also fined him $25,000 for his actions (a pittance in LeBron currency though sizable to us normal people).

      I think LeBron has surrounded himself with some of the brightest minds in marketing. He has the benefit of two predecessors, Michael Jordan, who really didn’t fully capitalize on his marketability until the second half of his career and Kobe Bryant, who we all know lost out on millions in endorsement money by making poor life decisions.

      That said, at 24 years old, LeBron is still just a child who I think tries to take on too much. Yes he’s an “adult”, but that doesn’t equate to maturity, especially when your formative years are spent being celebrated like his. As such he made a poor choice after Cleveland’s elimination. Forget talking to the press, I’m referring to not shaking the hands of his opponents. Some players have said it wasn’t a big deal but I think that’s the brotherhood sticking up for one another. At the end of the day, if someone doesn’t shake my hand (win or lose) I question their love of the game and I question their values. Where does fair play and ethics place on their list of priorities?

      LeBron has never shied away from the spotlight, making clear his intentions to be the first “Billion” dollar athlete… well there’s a catch. To succeed in that measure the public really needs to embrace you. But the very notion that greed is his ultimate motivator, coupled with his lack of sportsmanship is bristling and in my eyes makes it that much harder to embrace him as an American icon.

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