October 1


Rebranding Gets Personal

By Sara Canaday

October 1, 2009

career success, leadership, leadership behaviors, leadership development, leadership skills, management, professional development

Move over, big brands! Solo-prenuers are on the block.

Wikipedia defines rebranding as: “the process by which a product or service developed with one brand, company or product line affiliation is marketed or distributed with a different identity. This may involve radical changes to the brand’s logo, brand name, image, marketing strategy and advertising themes.”

But I think they’ve left something out.  Namely, individuals.

Rebranding (like the “branding” that presumably came before it) is not restricted to corporations, companies or associations.  People have brands, too.  Perhaps that has never been more true than now.  With our flailing economy, a continuing disassociation between employees and traditional corporate culture, and a whole host of newly minted entrepreneurs, a new reality is becoming concrete:

We are no longer simply an extension of the company we work for.

That is why rebranding is becoming increasingly important for individuals.  Rebranding allows us to reinvent ourselves, to reemerge, to reposition, to re-DO.  Everyone needs a mulligan from time to time — not just big companies.

Need an example? Take “Whitney Houston, Return of the Troubled Diva.”

In his article for the UK newspaper, The Observer, Oliver Marre notes:

“We have, though, already seen two very different sides of Houston and her future remains unmapped. If the respectful recognition ‘I Look to You’ has so far received is a sign of things to come, we may just be about to witness Whitney, Act 3.”

Sure, Houston may be an extreme example.  You need not have fallen to the bottom of your own personal hell in order to consider rebranding.  Rebranding at the personal level can serve several purposes:

1. As with Houston, rebranding can be used to deliberately change how others perceive us.  These intentional changes are typically aimed at repositioning ourselves in an attempt to distance ourselves from certain negative connotations or misconceptions.

2.  The other variety of rebranding has more to do with intentionally repositioning ourselves to move into a new market, industry or service; or to move upmarket within the same vertical.  Our messaging, marketing strategies, logo, brand name and image are changed to either better reflect our offerings, showcase expanded services or skills, or gain access to a new arena, niche or target market.


sara canaday rebrandingFor most business leaders, entrepreneurs and independent contractors, this second type of rebranding is both more common and increasingly vital to success.  And it is this form of rebranding that is near and dear to me, because of personal experience.

In my professional career, I have personally gone through a rebranding effort three times:  I spent the first third of my career as an operations V.P.;  the second third as a business image and communication consultant; and presently I work as a leadership and personal branding consultant.

Each of these shifts required a thoughtful reassessment of my new position, roles and audience.  It required that I coordinate my brand with all of these new factors, not just in terms of a logo or messaging, but within my personal brand as well.

Though my work represents a culmination of all that I have done and all the skills and experiences I’ve gained along the way, and though I have not changed the core of my values and approach to services, I have set out to reach new markets with expanded, differentiated services and deliverables.

Rebranding is not a process to be taken lightly or on a whim.  Nor should you let the imposing task keep you from shifting, reevaluating and moving forward when it is in your best interest.

With the advent of social media and the proliferation of tools that help us present our “face” to new audiences and venues at every turn, personal branding and rebranding are more important than ever.  Take some time to evaluate your own brand.  Does the suit still fit?  Or is it time for a new “you”?

Sara Canaday

About the author

Sara began her journey working full-time while she earned an MBA. As she climbed the ladder of corporate America, she repeatedly observed a surprising phenomenon: the most successful people weren’t necessarily the ones with the highest IQ or best job skills. She recognized instead that career advancement was much more closely linked with how people applied their knowledge and talents — their capacity to collaborate, communicate, and influence others.

Today, Sara is happily fulfilling that commitment as a keynote speaker, author, and executive coach. These venues have given her the opportunity to mentor and support thousands of people in diverse situations, inspiring many of them to move from insight to action with dramatic career results.

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