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Articles & Press Releases > Article 11

Build Your Personal Brand: Transform Your Verbal Identity

If you landed on this page after a search on the search-engine-of-your-choice, welcome! This article was written by Glory Borgeson, an executive coach, author, and speaker. Schedule her to speak at your organization's next event:
Personal Branding Speaker; Emerging Leadership Speaker; Entrepreneurial Speaker

Just as a product tells us something about its brand's verbal identity through written and spoken words in advertisements and right on product packaging, so do we tell the world something about our personal brand through the words we write and speak. Read on to find out how to review and transform your personal brand's verbal identity so that your brand "speaks (great) volumes" about who you are and the value you bring to business.

Since no one reading this article can recall a time in their life without radio or TV, I can safely write that all your life you ve received audio/spoken messages about products. You ve also received many written messages about products (such as in print ads and direct mail). Now we can add the Internet as another source of verbal product information!

Contrary to what most people believe, the word verbal refers to both spoken and written words. (If you went to college in the U.S. and took the SAT entrance exam, you remember the exam has two parts: math and verbal. The verbal part of the test is not oral, it s written. So the word verbal can mean written or spoken words.

All of the messages tossed at us about products are intended to persuade us to buy. A product s verbal messages are part of its verbal identity.

Brand managers focus their product s verbal identity to be one or more of the following: relevant, distinct, consistent, memorable, entertaining, or emotional. How a product s verbal identity is intended to persuade us to buy (when we are its target market) depends on who we are as a target market, what we will respond to, and what the product actually is.

Branding yourself also involves creating a verbal identity. Your brand messages come together in:

  • the names & titles you give your ideas & projects
  • your voice
  • your name
  • your title
  • messages or sound bites used to back up your projects and ideas
  • anything you say at meetings or presentations

Similar to a product, your personal brand s verbal identity needs to be relevant, distinct, consistent, memorable, entertaining, or emotional.

Think of your projects and ideas from the past. What would have been good titles or catchphrases for them? What projects do you have now or in the future?

I live in a part of the U.S. where many of us have a Chicago accent. It sounds nasal because we speak with our tongue too high in the back of our mouth. To change this, I ve taken speech lessons and I have a tape from Dr. David Alan Stern, which helps me change my accent.

Some of you may have regional accents that are fine. You may, however, need to work on the strength of your voice (I ve done that, too). If tweaking or strengthening your voice in some way would help improve your verbal identity, see Dr. Stern's website at

Meetings and presentations are a great way to showcase your verbal identity, whether you lead them or not. This article is too short for a comprehensive discussion about what you can do to enhance your brand s verbal identity. However, whether you re leading or contributing to a meeting, developing a plan for what you say will help you come across as relevant, distinct, consistent, and memorable (and maybe even entertaining!).

Believe it or not, your name and how it sounds can add to or detract from your brand s verbal identity. Is your name very common? (like football coach John Smith who added his middle initial to become John L. Smith). Are you a woman whose name sounds fine, but your husband s last names doesn t sound as good with our fist name as your maiden name? (I had a friend in college whose name was Beth, maiden name Brownawell, who married a guy named Piff. Yeah. Beth Piff.) My youngest brother hated the fact that he was the third and that it is part of his formal name, until he graduated from college and let the school list him in the program with III after his name. Now he knows it s distinctive. Is there something about your name you could tweak to make it distinct and memorable?

When I was in my 20's, I thought corporate titles were written in stone. You know what? They re not. Does your title help or hinder your brand? Study the titles of people at different types of companies, such as technology companies and others that like to be on the cutting edge with their products and services. What are some great-sounding titles that stand out to you? What would be a better title for you than the one you have right now? Who has the authority at your company to change titles?

As a final thought, think of some people who have a strong, positive verbal identity that fits their brand well. Study them. What else can you pick up to make your brand s verbal identity relevant, distinct, consistent, memorable, entertaining, or emotional?

This personal branding thing can get really involved: there are a lot of steps to discovering, creating, and marketing yourself as a brand successfully. To help you out, I've created a "Brand Yourself! Coaching Program". It is a self-paced coaching program you can purchase directly from Borgeson Consulting. I'm very excited about this program! Since it is self-paced, it is very affordable - less expensive than traditional coaching by telephone, and you complete it at your own pace.

The "Brand Yourself! Coaching Program" has 10 modules, taking you through each of the essential elements of personal branding. Call (630-653-0992) or e-mail ( to find out more about it.

I also give a keynote speech, "Brand Yourself Without Getting Burned: Know the Secrets to Finding the Right Brand for You!" Contact Borgeson Consulting to find out more!

I appreciate your thoughts in response.

Glory Borgeson, President
2008 Borgeson Consulting, Inc.

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