There’s no “I” in robot: The value of your personal brand

In a world where robotics and automation increasingly permeate every aspect of life, personal branding has emerged as a critical differentiator for human professionals. 

Often treated as a Marmite topic - you either love the idea of building brand “you” or hate it with a zealous passion - the days of personal branding being a nice-to-have are long gone. Unless you want to give away your one moat. 

Unlike robots, which are defined by their specifications and functions, humans possess a unique ability to create and cultivate personal brands. This is not a trivial distinction. 

As authors Levy and Murnane assert in their seminal work, "The New Division of Labor: How Computers Are Creating the Next Job Market," the tasks that cannot be codified or automated – including those that involve complex communication and expert thinking – are where human value increasingly lies in the face of automation.

The Human Spark

The essence of personal branding lies in the art of presenting oneself and one’s unique value proposition to the world. 

This concept, as explained by Tom Peters in his influential article "The Brand Called You" in Fast Company, makes the case that individuals must understand themselves as brands, offering a unique mix of skills, experiences and personality. It’s one thing to be equipped with the ability to do tasks beyond those that can be automated. It’s another to signal that to your audience. Or even build your audience in the first place.

If no one knows about you, the fact you’re not a machine means nothing. No one is going to invest the time to sense you in the proverbial dark. If you’re not making it easy for people to find you, you’re offering a dismal UX. Everyone knows where to find ChatGPT. Don’t take yourself out of the running. 

Shine the light of awareness on your exceptional “you-ness”; your skills, approach, intellectual property, knock knock jokes etc. By doing so, you place yourself in full view for opportunities.

Crafting a Narrative

Storytelling, an inherently human trait, is a powerful tool in personal branding. 

As demonstrated in the work of neuroeconomist Paul Zak, stories can profoundly affect human emotions and decision-making processes.

Don’t give into the mistaken belief that creating a personal brand is an act of unbridled vanity. Stories have been part and parcel of the human experience since we were sitting around campfires outside of our caves. We weren’t telling stories then to increase our followers on our LinkedIn profile. We were telling stories to connect.

Guess what?

We’re still telling stories to connect.

Yes, social media metrics, website visits, lead funnels and conversion campaigns may all now be present in our modern business environment. These are useful developments. And we persist in weaving tales to establish connections among ourselves.

Emotional Connection

Personal branding facilitates emotional connections.

No one is under any illusions as to the transactional nature of business. Rather than getting into a negative spin about late-stage capitalism, consider the clarity and efficiency inherent in commerce. These are upsides. You pay for a commodity or service to improve your life. There is no need to make your gas and electricity supplier your BFF.

But you’ll make the decision as to which gas and electricity supplier you sign up to based on how you feel about them. Are they trustworthy? Reliable? Paying attention to environmental concerns? Etc.

This is supported by author and inspirational speaker Simon Sinek's "Start with Why," which emphasises the importance of purpose. Then, communicating that purpose. By humanising your work, you offer something more than a robot can. A relationship and an experience.

Flexibility and Growth

Humans, unlike robots, are capable of evolution and adaptation. All without the need for prompts!

This flexibility is crucial in a constantly changing world. Daniel Pink, in his book "A Whole New Mind," argues that the future belongs to those who can leverage right-brain qualities like creativity and empathy.

You also need to showcase how you can leverage these qualities in the public domain. 

There is no one way to build a personal brand.

You can absolutely do it in a way that aligns with your values. There is zero requirement to follow the Kardashian playbook. So use your creativity and empathy to make yourself visible.

In summary, remember this: In the grand ballet of the AI age, where robots perform choreographed routines of precision and efficiency, the human element remains the improvisational jazz solo that captivates and inspires. Personal branding isn't just about setting yourself apart in a sea of automated counterparts. It's about embracing and showcasing your unique human symphony of skills, stories and quirks. 

Whether through the power of storytelling, the resonance of emotional connections, or the dynamism of personal evolution, your personal brand is your indelible mark in the world. A mark no robot, no matter how sophisticated, can replicate. 

So, let your personal brand be the spotlight that not only illuminates your path but also warms the hearts of those who cross it. 

In a world run by algorithms and AI, set yourself apart by being authentically you. And then let the rest of us know.