The Way We Work
April 2, 2012 by Amy Sept

“We have little choice but to move beyond quality and seek remarkable, connected and new.”
– Seth Godin, “Poke the Box”

You know you have skills and knowledge that are valuable to others. But in an increasingly competitive marketplace, being good at what you do is often not enough.

In his book Poke the Box, bestselling author Seth Godin observed that quality is no longer the main sticking point for businesses — a quality product is considered standard. What attracts customers today is more than quality; what matters is how a business — your business — stands out against its competitors. One of the best ways to do so is by creating a strong, consistent brand.

Define your brand

Defining your brand and learning how best to present yourself to potential clients is no simple or easy feat. The first step is to start pulling together all the marketing materials you need to develop for your brand, which is what personal branding expert Dan Schawbel calls your Personal Branding Toolkit.

The toolkit includes your business card, portfolio, resume, blog, and online profiles — but Schawbel explains that how you choose to brand yourself expands beyond these collateral materials.

“From the clothing you wear, to how you behave and interact with other people, to your body language, everything is tied to your overall brand,” he told in an interview.

“For anyone interested in having a successful career… your personal brand is everything. It’s your reputation, the size and strength of your network, and what unique value you can contribute to a company or your clients.”

Be consistent

Prioritize your early personal branding efforts by deciding which elements of the Personal Branding Toolkit are most relevant to your audience and your business, and will have the greatest impact.

Every piece should be in sync: Whether defining a look for your website, adding sparkle to your profile, or filtering which tweets to share, there should be brand consistency in everything you do.

For example:

  • use common visual elements, like your color scheme and logo
  • choose a language that syncs across all online and offline marketing channels
  • use the same profile image across all your social media accounts so people can start to “recognize” you
Iconic brands such as Coca-Cola and Nike do not become established household names on their own — it takes years of diligent brand consistency. But as those companies exemplify, having a strong, consistent brand is a powerful tool in your marketing arsenal, and no business is too small to start following in those footsteps.


Have you dedicated much thought to branding yourself, and where did you start? Share your advice in the comments section below!

Amy Sept

Managing Editor

As the managing editor of the Upwork blog, Amy Sept works with regular and guest writers to share information that helps freelancers and businesses navigate the future of work. She owns Nimbyist Communications and helps non-profits, startups, and small business owners get their content marketing on track.