Brand New You? How to (Really) Strengthen Your Personal and Professional Brand

New Year’s resolutions, anyone? Or do you already feel overwhelmed, just keeping up with the changing demands of every day? Many of us feel we’re bearing the weight of a couple of years spent reinventing our abilities and yet we would still like to find fresh energy for the new year in some way. Jennifer offers some ideas for being a little gentler and deeper with our resolutions this year.

These last two years have ‘offered’ a fairly continual experience of picking ourselves up by our bootstraps. We’ve felt the need to find new resilience, new staying power and new optimism, as the pandemic, and constantly changing restrictions bent our plans and expectations in unlikely directions. On a deeper note, this sense of navigating uncertainty took place, for many, in a context of loss and grief. Do we really have the energy and appetite now for New Year’s resolutions? Isn’t it more a case of hanging on in there and seeing what happens?

Arguably, more than ever, we owe ourselves the chance to set out some realistic hopes. Here are some of the thoughts I’ve been having about what’s possible. It tunes in with a spirit of greater authenticity and honesty, with ourselves and with others, which many of us have felt emerging in the last 22 months. It's also about not making resolutions focused only on what I need to change, pretending that I'll ultimately reach some kind of perfection and then beating myself up, when I fall short.

What about celebrating, and simply being better at, what we already have?

Claiming and naming who we already are

This is sometimes called Personal Branding and it means knowing what you have to offer and finding ways of communicating this to the appropriate people. Instead of listing all the things we need to stop, or start, why not take the time to identify our existing strengths and contributions.

  • Identify your core qualities, values and capabilities that make you a great person / colleague / employee / friend etc to have around. Some of these may have become even clearer in stand-out ways in the past couple of years. Some of your qualities may have been harder to express but you know they are still there and want to acknowledge that.
  • Remind yourself of some of your past achievements: the things you've done that made a difference. Include the ways you have contributed to supporting others in big or small ways through our extraordinary times, as well as the ways you have kept ‘business as usual’ on track, where possible, often against the odds.
  • Notice things you've got better at over the last year. These may be skills within your role or general workplace skills such as managing time or priorities; or taking a bigger perspective and not sweating the small stuff. These may also be ways you’ve developed through the unusual circumstances: did you discover new ways of getting things done, or influencing and building relationships, when your role needed you to go above and beyond at times? Did you dig deep and discover new perspectives and resilience when you went through furlough or other unusual pandemic circumstances?

OK, so I'm feeling better already: how about you? When we do this kind of exercise, we are then far more likely to get on with some good stuff with that 'personal brand' to the front of our minds.

So what now, if I do want to actually change something?

Setting an Aim

So, what about the onward journey? What are my wishes and aims for 2022?

The next step is to reflect on that ‘branding’ exercise we just did and figure out why we value the qualities and achievements we listed. What do they say about who we are? Then the question is how can we have more of that in the coming year?

The invitation here is not only to find some specific thing we want to do – such as running 3 times a week, eating more plant-based foods, redecorating a room, or submitting our monthly reports a day earlier – but to link it with who we’ll be as a person when we do that; why it matters to us. Perhaps, with the goals above, we want to be fitter, have more energy, have more space or a more relaxing living area. Perhaps we want to be more considerate to others by working in more effective ways. Knowing why a new habit matters should help it to be more sustainable, and also – if we don’t quite keep it going – it can allow us to adapt as we go.

If we find we’ve fallen off track by March, we can review the aim we were trying to reach (being fitter, being more considerate etc) and set a new achievable habit based on the original one, with tweaks, that still helps us be who we’re aiming to become.

Coupled with reminding ourselves about what we're already doing well (with our personal brand) this might just get us through January and into the rest of 2022 in a way that we, and those around us, can feel good about.

Jennifer Liston-Smith


Jennifer Liston-Smith is Head of Thought Leadership for Bright Horizons

For over 20 years, Jennifer has been relentless in pursuit of innovation, identifying, defining, and sharing best practices and 'next practice' for leading global employers in flexible working, family-friendly, and wellbeing programmes, closing the gender pay gap, and promoting gender-inclusive parenting. She is a sought-after speaker, writer, conference moderator, and consultant on these topics, and more.