Post | December 2019 | Past workshops | 5 min read

3 December 2019 - "Building a Powerful Personal Brand"

Written by Gabriel Rodriguez

If you've been in the job market in recent years, you've probably come across the concept of "personal branding" - the idea of marketing yourself and your skills to advance your reputation and the impression you give to the outside (professional) world. A powerful personal brand has the potential to create new professional opportunities by allowing you to craft an image of yourself to put out there, one that can allow you to stand out in today's highly competitive landscape when pursuing your goals or new professional prospects. At our eighth workshop of 2019, international brand advisor Michiel Maandag spoke to workshop attendees about the many advantages of personal branding, what goes into an effective personal brand, and how attendees can work to define their own personal brand in simple terms using what he calls a "Personal Brand Compass."

Brand advisor Michiel Mandaag facilitates "Building a Powerful Personal Brand" on 3 December 2019

“Your personal brand is what others say about you when you leave the room.”

          -Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of, Inc.

This quote from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is a great summation of why an effective personal brand is so important in business, on the job market, and in other professional settings. This was the topic of our latest workshop held on 3 December, “Building A Powerful Personal Brand,” with speaker Michiel Mandaag. As an international brand advisor for the last several years, Michiel has studied and been exposed to all sorts of branding strategies, and he came to us ready to share his thoughts and advice on why personal branding is important, what elements go into an effective personal brand, and how one can craft their own “Personal Brand Compass” that they can use to market themselves, their skills, and their goals.

Workshop participants listen to Michiel's talk at "Building a Powerful Personal Brand"

Simply put, "personal branding" is the idea of marketing yourself and your skills to advance your reputation and the impression you give to the outside (professional) world. A powerful personal brand has the potential to open up new professional opportunities by allowing you to craft an image of yourself to put out into the world – one that can allow you to stand out in today's highly competitive landscape when searching for new opportunities. But what are the principles of good personal branding? And once we have defined our personal brand, how do we effectively show it off to those whom we consider potential stakeholders in what we have to offer?

Michiel speaks to workshop attendees about the concept of the brand compass

Michiel had our workshop participants do a thought experiment: Think about brands you like – or don’t like. Are they brands that you know simply from exposure? Can you label yourself a “fan” of any brands that are out there today? To Michiel, an effective brand isn’t one that is simply remembered – it is one that engenders brand loyalty as well. This is just as true for personal brands as for commercial ones. To get one’s personal brand to this point, it is important to think separately about your brand’s intention vs. its perception. The intention of your brand is its “personal essence” – your view of your own brand, or what you want to put out there. The perception is how your brand is conceptualized by others. It’s important to realize that your brand’s behavior, actions, decisions, products, or communications are what bridge the gap between intention and perception.

Template for brainstorming one's personal brand

To take control of this process, Michiel introduced a helpful template designed to assist you in brainstorming your own personal brand:

  • I am (My brand is) the only (WHAT?)
  • …helping (WHO?)
  • …because I believe (WHY?)
  • …and finally, HOW?

The last line is perhaps the most important because this is where you define your brand’s values. You can define your values in a number of ways using the concept of the “brand compass,” where you set your brand against a directional spectrum of Freedom, Self, Structure, and Social in regards to several considerations, such as your brand’s character or inner power. Is your brand a loyal friend or caregiver (Social)? A leader or scholar (Structure?) Energetic or pioneering (Freedom)? Innovative (Self)?

One example I thought of as I worked on this recap on my MacBook was Apple's brand. I have no idea what Apple's intentions are internally, but going on my perception of them, I could lay out their brand in these terms:

Apple is a company offering an easy and seamless use of tech; they help users of all ages and abilities utilize and integrate technology into their everyday lives because they believe their products have a positive impact on the lives of their customers and on the world as a whole. They do this through their values of free-thinking innovation and appealing design.

Of course, not everyone would agree with this assessment of Apple, but it's hard to dispute that they are a well-known brand with a committed fanbase. As Michiel said during his presentation, what's most important is to consider your own brand in these terms so that it's not only clearly defined to you and visible to others, but also remembered by others as well. 

We want to thank Michiel for his thoughts and advice about this important topic. We also want to thank our fantastic event partners, Present Den Haag and NL Cares. And, as always, we want to express our gratitude to our wonderful attendees for their participation in this workshop. We hope that you learned more about yourself, your skills, and your capabilities and that what you learned can be applied to your future success. See you at the next event!

About the Presenter

Michiel Maandag is an international brand advisor, author, and coach. He developed innovative methods to help create winning brands, optimize brand portfolios, and ensure consistency in brand execution. His passion to make the complex simple and fun has directly led to the ideas in his book “The Only Book You Will Ever Need on Branding” – the 'non-fiction book of the month' in the UK in December 2015. The book is the first illustrated, no-nonsense book for anyone who wants to create a winning brand – without drowning in theory and fully aimed at practical entrepreneurs and not just for marketing professionals. 

This is what David Rosenblatt (CEO of and former President of Google's Global Display Advertising) said about Michiel after a recent session: “Great work and a fantastic session. It's already impacted the way I think and it really did click with everyone.”

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