The Business Woman’s Guide to Personal Branding

Personal BrandWhat does Madison Avenue have that a scientist could possibly need?……quite a bit!

Branding? Branding is for Coca Cola or for Budweiser. Branding is for commodities, to direct consumers to buy the “right” toothpaste. Me need branding? Scientists and technical professionals need branding? You must be kidding. We are above the need to be branded. I personally am a Ph.D. in biochemistry, board certified in clinical chemistry and toxicology. I am an award winning teacher, and a co-author of a best seller. So who needs branding? The truth is that we all need it. I spent many years thinking I did not. And I lost so much, and missed out on so much because I did not learn what my brand was. Today, I am a coach, speaker and author, and realize that branding means so much more than coming up with a recognizable logo or a jingle that everyone recognizes when they hear it. It is all about who we are – not what we do, but what makes us unique. And that is the key.

I finally learned the secret. The term “Branding” is Madison Avenue jargon. In English, branding is translated as “who you really are” – it is what the why is for others to want to engage with you versus someone else. Why you should be hired, or why they should listen to you. Not just what you can do – or what you know. I spent so many years like that. I thought I was the best Medical School biochemistry teacher. – the best reciter of the TCA cycle – the best executive recruiter. I learned the hard way that it did not matter how much I knew or how much and how fast I could learn something. My knowledge did not get me the recognition or the promotions I wanted. I remember being told by Mr. Sr. VP at the global pharma company where I worked, that I would never succeed in that company. And I felt I had tried so hard – I learned whatever they needed, explained, taught. However, I felt like such a failure. Just like the rest of my life – when had I ever been told that I was ok. Even though I had skipped two grades, gotten my Ph.D. There was still something wrong with me.

Why? I had two false tenets that I built my life on. The first is common to many of us “knowledge peddlers”: Knowledge is king (or queen); everything can be solved by knowing/learning more facts. I spent years doing that. Knowledge should fix everything. The second false belief was that I should be able to fit myself to whatever others needed/wanted. I was a great learner – skipped twice, Ph.D. etc. New knowledge should fix anything. Wrong!

So let’s get down to basics.

Branding (personal or otherwise) is all about standing out from the crowd. What makes us unique. Think of a new chemical compound. It has atoms, protons, neutrons, etc. just like all other compounds. How is it different? It’s characterized by certain attributes that differentiates it from all other compounds from melting points to chemical reactivity. The same goes for all of us – we all have the same basics – even to the level of the knowledge we have. What differentiates us? What are the attributes that make each of us special? Special to others. For example – what does the hiring manager or peers see? And why? What do you bring to the situation that defines only you? When you are asked to “Tell me about yourself”, what they are really asking is: why should I hire you? why should I care about you? What is your value to my company? What drives you – –

So what are some of the criteria that characterize your “personal compound” or your brand? What should you think about when building your brand?

  1. What is your reputation? What are you recognized for?
  2. What is your style? Are you self-motivated? Are you quiet or are you extroverted? How do you show up to the world?
  3. What are your strengths – the areas that give you power? What are the areas you would prefer to minimize?
  4. What are your passions? What are your motivators? What makes you want to know more?
  5. What do you need to fulfill you?

….and of course, what are the facts about you? Education? Knowledge?

These are some of the questions you can use to assist you in identifying your brand – remember you want to stand out in the crowd so that you can be found!

Guest Writer-Susan Carson, Ph.D. is the founder of “SMART Leadership Coaching.”  Her firm specializes in the development of individual leadership and communication skills for scientists and technology professionals.  With her extensive experience as a scientist, as the owner of a successful executive recruiting firm, and as an ICF-trained coach, Dr. Carson is eminently qualified to provide her clients with the assistance needed in their job or life search journey.  In the process of coaching her clients, she focuses on leading them through the transformation which results in the life changes they seek – be it a search for life balance, career guidance, or any other area in which they need assistance. Dr. Carson’s  focus throughout is to assist them in becoming the Catalyst for the results they want using their own DNA! Find out more about Dr. Carson at, and Contact Dr. Carson at to arrange your own personal strategy session to find out what you need to get the results you want! 

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