3 Tips for Building a Robust Personal Brand

Posted December 2, 2023 by Catherine Kaputa in Uncategorized / 0 Comments


To compete in today’s new world of work with hybrid, remote and in-person working, and AI beckoning, it pays to learn about personal branding. Branding is all about being recognized as someone who adds value to a business or career situation.Here are 3 tips:

1. Have a focused brand identity. Remember the Law of Singularity in branding. Being a Jack or Jill of all trades is no where’s ville in branding. If you can’t articulate your value in 10 words or less, go back to the drawing board.

2. Be different. Most people have a me-too brand that’s generic and something you’ve heard dozens of times before. You’ll always be perceived as second rate if you take that approach.

3. Be relevant. We live in a dynamic world and you need to keep up with what’s taking place and solve a problem that’s important today, not yesterday’s needs.

To learn more, click the link above to check out my interview on ASBN, America’s Small Business Network.

Branding Advice from Barbra Streisand

Posted November 16, 2023 by Catherine Kaputa in Uncategorized / 0 Comments

Many successful people have traits in common as Barbra Streisand points out in her new memoir, “My Name is Barbra.” Weighing in at 1000 pages, it’s full of tips and hefty enough to be part of your exercise program.

Here are 3 take-aways from the book:

• See yourself as a superstar from the beginning
Streisand’s success wasn’t just due to her talent and she’s got plenty of that and the awards to prove it. Yet we all know talented people who don’t realize their potential. She always aimed high. “I have never looked for jobs in the chorus,” she says in the book. “Frankly, I don’t think it even occurred to me. Working my way up slowly didn’t figure into my plan.”

• Perfectionism is the path to greatness
Barbara was a relentless perfectionist and no detail was too small. When she appeared on the Ed Sullivan show, the host had pronounced her name as Streis – land before the show. Worried that they might do it again live on air, she called out from backstage, “Streisand like sand on the beach.” Decades later, she called Tim Cook, CEO of Apple to correct Siri who pronounced her name as Strei – zand.

• Have a verbal and visual identity that stands out
Streisand understood that being different is important for a brand. Born Barbara, she had a pretty common name for a girl of her generation She figure]ed that she’s didn’t need the second “a,” so she dispensed with it. There’s only one Barbra and it’s Barbara Streisand. She famously

Let Your Clothes Talk like Travis Kelce

Posted October 20, 2023 by Catherine Kaputa in Uncategorized / 0 Comments



Strong visual identities are a quick read. And clothes are one of the quickest ways to communicate a message about who you are. Clothes often offer more insight than your words.

Stylish clothes are a personal branding tool not lost on celebrities, but move over Kardashians, now there’s Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce.

According to the Wall Street Journal’s “On Trend “column this week, “Before his cleats touch grass on a game day, before he laces them up, Kelce said he takes at least three hours to pick out an outfit for walking into the locker room.” At last year’s Super Bowl, Kelce chose a Louis Vuitton patchwork overcoat. His goal he says is to bring a smile to someone’s face.

Now that he’s dating Taylor Swift, he’s upgrading to a $5 million dollar home in Kansas City. No doubt we can expect a sartorial step-up, too. His wardrobe with its 300 sneakers and scores of outfits, is stashed in a spare bedroom in his current house, but I’m betting his wardrobe is about to undergo the Swift treatment.

Don’t think clothing selection is a superficial thing. I used to think that dressing for success just made a difference in how other people see you. “Clothes make the man,” as Shakespeare says. But clothes can do even more than that, as I cover in my new book, “The New Brand You.”

What you wear can make a difference in job performance. You perform better because you feel more confident and powerful when you feel that you look good. The power of clothes as PR and performance booster seems to be working for Kelce. He is considered to be one of the best tight ends of all time, and he leads his team in receiving yards.

What’s the best move? Quiet Quitting v. Moving On

Posted August 23, 2023 by Catherine Kaputa in Uncategorized / 0 Comments

Things are not so happy on the job front these days.

After reaching its highest levels in 2020, employee engagement declined for the second year in a row according to a new Gallup study. Engagement, a key measure of job enthusiasm and involvement, is important because low engagement often results in quiet quiting that fosters employee unhappiness that often leads to job hunting.

Not surprisingly, Gallup’s survey of 60,000 people reported that 57% thought that it is a good time to look for a job.

Better than being a lethargic employee, better to do something about it. Analyze your grievances like better in-office policies and develop your target list.

You’ll also need a good pitch, a focused pitch that will get you noticed. In my new book, The New Brand You: How to Wow in the New World of Work, I outline the Top 10 Personal Positioning Strategies to stand out from competitors.
1. The Innovator: Are you a creative problem solver? Give examples
2. The Leader: Is your strength your ability to lead people and get things done? List key accomplishments
3. The Maverick: Do you have an unconventional approach that produces results? Share the ways.
4. The Superman: What’s the one strength you have in spades? Focus on this one attribute.
5. The Engineer: Are you adept at tweaking and improving things? Share your new processes you set up on the job.
6. The Expert: Are you an expert in one, important area? Focus on it.
7. The Target Marketer: Do you have a strong customer service orientation to one group of customers? Share the advantage in your job
8. The Elitist: Are you among the top tier in your line of work? Play up your elite credentials because not many people can claim them.
9. The Heir: Do you have a unique heritage and connections? Fit them in the interview narrative.
10. The Activists: Is there a special cause that you are passionate about that is important in your industry too? Demonstrate the power of commitment to a cause.

Focus on the best positioning that plays to your strengths and go for it. Imagine your best future with the flexibility, culture and opportunities you crave.

Summer Casual – But Can You Wear it to the Office Come September?

Posted August 14, 2023 by Catherine Kaputa in Personal Branding, Uncategorized / 0 Comments

The lines between what is office appropriate and what isn’t have blurred since the pandemic. But how far can you go when you’re pulled back into the hybrid office?

You need to ask yourself, when people see you, what ideas pop up into their heads? Will they take you seriously if you’re wearing a cap with your favorite team’s logo on the front? You couldn’t have done it pre-pandemic in corporate America. But what about now?

Well it depends on the cap.

What about the baseball style cap worn by Logan Roy in the hit show, Succession. Roy’s hat appears ordinary. It doesn’t even appear to have a logo. (Of course, there is a logo, an almost invisible one.) As some fanatic viewers have pointed out, if you have a high-def television, you might observe the cashmere texture and hint of a logo.

The appeal of the cap is that it is so elite that only savvy One Percenters can even recognize that it’s no ordinary baseball cap. It’s a $625 cap made with luxurious baby cashmere by the elite Italian brand Loro Piana, owned by the luxury brand LVMH.

The cap is an example of quiet branding, a coded signifier of elite status and being in the know.

Al the WSJ points out in its article, “Cool, Casual” (August 12-13, 2023) the rules are different depending on the setting and where you stand in the hierarchy. The juniors “might get handslapped for a cap, though a partner can put one off with impunity. It’s the same with a director on a film can wear one – it’s a power move, but if you’re the intern, it’s not gonna fly.”

What do your sartorial choices say about you?

What Animal Are You in the Career Zoo?

Posted July 7, 2023 by Catherine Kaputa in Uncategorized / 0 Comments

What animal signifies Brand You?

Often in doing a brand assessment, asking focus group participants to identify what animal or car they associate with a brand is more enlightening than traditional analytical methods and questions.

Symbolic associations can be powerful branding. We all know the symbol of the United States, the bald eagle – it conveys power. But the bald eagle was not the only animals our founders considered. Other animal imagery debated was a cow with horns, a goose, a bear and a white-tailed deer. (See Stuart Halpern’s interesting article about the search for a symbol of the United States in the Wall Street Journal: July 1 – 2, 2023.

Even the British got caught up in the branding suggesting a zebra with 13 stripes, each symbolizing a state with Massachusetts strategically placed on the animals behind.

The eagle’s imagery had staying power and strong symbolism with 13 arrows in one claw and an olive branch in the other. Its powerful wings became a stymbol of liberty. Prominent on the eagle’s breast was the motto E pluribus unum Out of many, one.

The bald eagle also satisfied Benjamin Franklin’s desire for a native American bird representing America’s courage in breaking away from Britain.

So what animal represents you best. To find out what animal your strengths are most aligned with, take our animal assessment test https://www.selfbrand.com/tools/animalQuiz.html

Sometimes Age is An Asset in Personal Branding

Posted July 7, 2023 by Catherine Kaputa in Uncategorized / 0 Comments

How come silver-haired male stars are hot, but the older women, not so much? A recent WSJ headline said it all: “Harrison Ford is 80. He’s Proof: Silver-Haired Stars are the new Box Office Gold.”

Harrison Ford is back as “Indiana Jones.” Tom Cruise (60) stars in “Mission Impossible.” There’s Arnold Schwarzenegger (75) in “FUBAR” and Denzel Washington (68) in The Equalizer 3.” And Kevin Costner(68) stars in “Yellowstone.”

This silver-haired pack is successful not only because they are reviving beloved franchises, they ooze sex appeal.

Silver hair is not such an asset for women, though, especially in the corporate and media worlds. A year ago long ago Canadian news anchor Lisa La Flamme (58) says she was fired over letting her hair grow gray. Look at the young, attractive women who are the reporters and anchors on news shows in the U.S.

Looking back, Anne Bancroft was only thirty-six when she played the “older” woman, Mrs. Robinson in “The Graduate.” And Duston Hoffman was just six years younger and played someone her daughter’s age.

Feeling depressed yet?

There’s a lot to be said for ageing gracefully but it can be harder for women. Men with silver hair or no hair are often viewed as hunks but it’s less likely to happen to women. I’m all for trying to dial time back a bit by camouflaging gray hair and ditching the matronly clothes.

But nothing ages a woman more than desperately trying to look young.

There’s a way to do it. Look at the fashion attention that Iris Apfel has received. She’s hit 101 and has become a “geriatric starlet” with her bold clothes and oversize eyeglasses. She’s been transformed from a private person who did her own thing with clothes to a fashion icon who others consider a style authority and who’s being asked to judge fashion competitions and represent brands.

Martha Stewart: Sports Illustrated’s 81-Year Old Cover Girl

Posted May 17, 2023 by Catherine Kaputa in Uncategorized / 0 Comments

Say what you will about Martha Stewart, but she’s always on top of a trend.

In the 1980’s and 90’s Martha became famous for her cookbooks and lifestyle tips. She made hand-crafting everything in your home look so beautiful, effortless and fulfilling that it helped launch the DIY trend. And Martha was our guru.

Today, she’s rebranded her as beautiful and relevant even in her 70’s and 80’s. – naysaying he fear we all have of ageism, of being seen as a caricature – as irrelevant and frumpy.

The reality is that looking good is important. It’s the price of admission in many arenas and careers, and Martha knows that. And Martha swears that her sex appeal is all natural, the result of healthy living, and she’s challenging women to belive that each era can be beautiful if we have a healthy lifestyle.

I’ve always admired Martha’s ability to take control of her brand narrative. Even when she served five months in prison for a securities violation in 2004, she taught inmates how to crochet and do the downward dog yoga pose.

Remember the gray poncho that Martha wore when she was released from prison? A handmade gift from a fellow inmate, Martha’s prison poncho became the symbol of her release from jail.

The poncho carried a powerful message. In spite of doing time, the poncho communicated that she can make lemonade out of lemons, that she is stronger because of her experience, and that she had bonded with her fellow prisoners.

Wearing her swim suits today, Martha communicates that she’s still relevant, in control of her life and destiny, and she’s not handing her personal brand power over to anyone. The shock of her magazine cover turned into a runaway PR success for Martha and Sports Illustrated.

The Trial and What She Wore

Posted May 15, 2023 by Catherine Kaputa in Uncategorized / 0 Comments

Brand builders use a range of visual tools to create an emotional bond with customers: shape, color, design, imagery, logos and the like.

It’s the same with people. That’s why my advice to people is: Let your clothes talk. As I point out in my new book, “The New Brand You,” strong visual identities are a quick read telegraphing to us what a person is like (or so we think).

And clothes are one of the easiest ways to communicate a message about who you are. Clothes can offer more insight than what you say. Look at E Jean Carroll at her trial accusing former president Donald Trump of sexual assault and defamation.

In a trial, you win or lose on how a jury sees you and whether they believe you. The perceptions of others are the perceptions that count.

79-year old E Jean Carroll looked elegant, attractive and professional during her days in court On day one, she stepped out in a black shirtdress with a cream coat and pearl earrings. And she continued with her subtle style that was somehow both soft and strong. No flashy jewely or colors. A trial is a serious matter and her clothes communicated that.

She won her case on key charges and awarded $5 million.

Rarely has there been as educational an example of the transformative power of clothses and visual identity as the radical before-and-after makeover of Elizabeth Holmes during her fraud trial in 2021.

The CEO of Theranos, with its miracle medical product, Holmes went from the appropriation of Steve Jobs’ black turtle neck, beautifully accented with kabuki red lipstick and sleek blond hair.

Yet her trial wardrobe was the opposite. She went from glam to nondescript business casual shirts and skirts and soft curls.

In short, she went from Superwoman to the Girl Next Door. In Holmes case, visual identity can only take you so far. Jurors must have a reason for the transformation, and in Holmes’ case, they may have felt played.

Your visual identity has to sync with your actions or there is a brand disconnect. As we all know, she lost her case and found guilty of fraud.

The Rebranding of Camilla

Posted May 10, 2023 by Catherine Kaputa in Uncategorized / 0 Comments

Camilla’s rise from villain to queen is a master class in image transformation that we can all learn from.

For decades, Camilla was vilified by the British media as the villain who broke up Charles’s marriage to Diana, the Princess of Wales. Her transformation would have been unthinkable in the years after Diana’s death. Many of the scandalous details may have faded over the last twenty-five years though they have been reintroduced in our collective memory by the popular Netflix series,  “The Crown.”

Camilla’s rebrand wasn’t happenstance. It was achieved through calculated effort with the help of advisors, PR experts and image consultants. Rebranding involves positioning , image development, packaging, storyline, marketing messages, and PR, all aimed toward building and extending a person’s shelf life, just as in brand development.

So how did Camilla do it?

Camilla went dark for a while to clean the slate. Then she emerged with a spotlight on public service. Camilla’s focus was not on herself and parties or glamour but discretion and service. Camilla has a strong record of charitable causes, particularly in the medical and health care arenas, like her work supporting victims of osteoporosis, the illness that plagued her mother.

And Camilla’s rebranding campaign has paid off.

Now even if people may not like aspects of her role in the breakup of Charles and Diana, they are accepting of it, according Professor Purcell, a professor of modern British history at Saint Michael’s College in Vermont. She’s just done a great job at hanging in there and trying not to make missteps.”

She’s more popular than Prince Harry and Meghan Markle among the British public.

And her rebrand was assisted by the endorsement of Queen Elizabeth who made known her wish that Camilla become queen consort when Charles ascended the throne.

Branding is all about perceptions and taking control of the narrative, as I outline in my new book, “The New Brand You.” Whatever the state your personal brand, realize that you too can transform perceptions and the narrative others have about you.