What Do Designers Think About The Concept of Personal Branding?

While at WordPress’s WordCampSF, I heard a really great talk by Dave Gray of Xplane | The visual thinking company. In that talk, he mentioned David Armano of Logic + Emotion. Last year David Armano did a presentation on the concept of personal branding at the Chicago Convergence Conference where he stated “The hallmark of any brand is authenticity . . .”. He then proceeds to speak on the advent of personal branding. Here’s the video of his talk.

Personal Branding-Brand U.O, David Armano, Critical Mass

My question: How does the concept of personal branding come into play for graphic and other design professionals, both on a personal level and when dealing with clients?

I most certainly am using social media to gain more exposure through the use of specific types of blog postings, tweets and status updates; and when I meet clients or potential clients, I am very aware of the visual representation I want to present.

What do others think of this? Are you more aware of the need to present or create a very specific brand for yourself, and do you incorporate this concept as part of the design strategy for your clients?

Fast Company Magazine related article: The Brand Called You. http://bit.ly/Yvl8 (Great find by Arne Van Oosteram of designthinkers . Thanks Arne.)


  1. I also do alot of design work for my clients – but my services are also broader – I had a very hard time with this as I actually am the type of person the small business person looks for – I am like their right arm – where i can provide services on a temporary basis for short periods of time

    Also, by coming up with my slogan it helped me tremendously – “helping you tell your story to the people who need to hear it!” this took me like 3 years to come up with – but it does encompass many things

    I finally settled on this flower for my logo and my business name is Cover To Cover – I don’t know if this answers your questions, but since I built my business all on referrals only, it has worked for me.

    1. ayanabaltrip says:

      Judy, thank you so much for your thoughts to the question, What do Designers Think About The Concept of Personal Branding. You talk specifically about things you did to create components of what I feel could be deemed as part of one’s personal brand-your business name, slogan, and logo. Although these relate more directly your business brand, being a small business (one-person business perhaps), they also represent you.

      We both are using social media as well, and I feel that our “pesonas” there are integral in developing a personal brand.

  2. We at DesignThinkers made a very conscious decision to use personal branding as part of our company brand image. Our clients are very sensitive to a personal approach, it gives us a more trustworthy image, it improves the client-agency relationship and creates an atmosphere of equality and cooperation.

    Equality and cooperation is particularly important because we do not want to be seen as just a supplier.

    The effect of this approach (amongst other things we do to improve the quality of our client relationship) is that our clients are more involved and committed. We have more and better conversations and it improved the quality of the outcome of our work.

  3. ayanabaltrip says:

    Arne, thank you so much for posting your perspective. I agree with your practice of a “personal approach” that affords for trust in our clients. Trust is very key in establishing strong, collaborative relationships. Our clients are our primary collaborators.

  4. Thanks for your post. A fun question….

    Here’s my 3 cents — independent designers are selling themselves, as a whole package, to their client. Experience and portfolio obviously demonstrate skill and creativity, but personality and communication style have a huge impact on the success of the designer/client relationship — together creating a brand. Because of this, I believe branding for designers is crucial because it goes beyond demonstrating skill and creativity, letting the potential client in on what the experience may be like working with a particular designer.

    Social media has practically forced designers to brand themselves because, in my opinion, social media participation is an extension of our brand. If we’re represented on Twitter by our business name it’s important for us to be intelligent, helpful, informational, creative, polite, respectful, forward thinking…and then all of those other personality traits that we may bring to human interaction with a client (i.e. fun, quirky, serious, conservative, liberal, structured, flexible, etc). Involvement, as a designer, with social media should represent a designer as they’d be in person. I feel like my Tweets are very true to who I am so that when I meet with a client who discovered me on Twitter, there are no surprises and, hopefully, they already have a good idea what the collaborative experience may be like.

  5. ayanabaltrip says:

    A great “3 cents,” Jala. Thank you adding them to the discourse.

  6. Chris Barnes says:

    I relied on referrals for 15+ years, so in a sense, my personal brand has always been important. What’s different today is that technology has changed the scope, depth, and breadth of what’s possible. And, technology makes everything a LOT more public.

    My marketing strategy explicitly identifies the need for me to share my thinking, personality, authenticity, creativity, etc. in public. Specifically, in contexts that will matter to my prospective clients, prospective partners and vendors, and other relevant contacts.

    As David says in the video, the *management* of my personal brand is the big challenge. I am spending more time writing, more time commenting, more time managing various SoMe services. And, while a personal brand needs to be authentic and…well, personal, it’s important to be thoughtful about the right balance of public and private. Not every one of my thoughts will serve my brand effectively, so I don’t share them all. 🙂

    To me, the concept of personal brand boils down to an authentic expression of who I am and the value I bring. This is consistent with the council we give to clients.

    Look forward to reading others’ comments…

  7. ayanabaltrip says:

    Thank you so much for your valuable perspective, Chris Barnes.

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