Personal Branding Involves Competition

If you think of personal branding the same way you think of company branding, then you would agree personal branding involves competition. Companies are in fierce competition to reach and convert their target market to customers; you do the same by trying to get your audience to invest in you, whether it is landing an employment opportunity, influencing a client to purchase your work, or informing your associates how you make the most impact.

When you compete as a personal brand, the results are often not apparent and you may not ever know whether you lost in a finite game – such as landing a job. When a recruiter views your professional website and/or LinkedIn profile, they may never inform you that you were in contention for an employment opportunity. Likewise, you may not know when a potential client considered buying your product. Not knowing how you are competing for a particular job might actually be a good thing.

Trying to differentiate a personal brand is much more difficult than differentiating a company brand because of the sheer number of competitors. There are many more people than companies in the world. My point is that knowing you did not get a job might just be unnecessary discouragement. That being said, I still believe you should understand your ecosystem, how you bring value to the ecosystem, and how to differentiate your skill set to best promote your personal brand. You should understand who your competitors are and how best to compete with them and you should monitor how you are reaching your target audience, using analytics and the growth of your social network.

If you do know you lost in a finite game, such as a job opportunity, you should ask yourself what you could have done to win the game; this is called an additive counterfactual and studies show you will perform better over time if you employ this type of rationale [1]. An example might be, if I had only included a targeted cover letter that said this… then I would have gotten the job.

A similarity between the competition companies face when developing their brand and a person faces when developing their brand is both play in an infinite game in the long-term. There is a waxing and waning relationship where you make a play and then your rival makes a play, each move prompts the other to make a better play[1]. Many companies competing with each other are in close proximity of each other: tech companies in Silicon Valley, financial institutions in New York, optical companies in Rochester. These companies battle each other, but also create an environment where productivity and innovation flourish – they play in an infinite game, where both sides benefit. Your whole career can be considered an infinite game. As you develop a personal brand, there are so many resources to make improvements and your competitors are visible and accessible – whether you find them in social media, in blogs, or Google searches. You may not get a particular job (perhaps a loss in a finite game); however in your career you can always play another game. Personally, I favor infinite games because everyone wins.


[1] Bronson, Po; Merryan, Ashley. “Top Dog.” Po Bronson, 2013

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