01. Can I See Some I.D.?—Understanding Your Authentic Identity

This introductory module explains the importance of knowing who you are, then discusses why it’s advantageous to turn that identity into a personal brand. The worksheet here asks you to consider how certain corporate brands make you feel, then to reflect on the impressions you’d like others to have regarding your personal brand—how you want them to see you.

If you’re reading this as a college student, then congratulations! Clearly, you’ve done everything right to get you this far—that is to say, to grant you entry into college. But now that you’ve crossed this major hurdle, you may sometimes wonder, who are you beyond your achievements? Asking yourself this question is a valuable and necessary component of building an academic and professional career—as well as a happy life. In college and beyond, the key to having a fulfilled life is living it authentically, being the person only you can be.

Personal branding is about finding your own voice, feeling empowered to take ownership of your educational and career path, and deciding what it is that you will contribute to the world.

  • Self-understanding: Knowing who you are, what you are capable of, and what talents you bring to the table.
  • Self-esteem: You feel better about yourself knowing that you are living an authentic life and that you can accept who you are.
  • Showing Up: By examining how you are perceived by others, you better understand how people remember you when you’ve left the room, and can help influence that reaction so that others’ image of you matches your own.
  • Visibility: You learn how to make yourself stand out in the places where you need to be noticed—in a competitive workplace, academic environment, or job market, for example.
  • Differentiation: After identifying what makes you different from others, you can embrace those differences instead of hiding them to fit in with the crowd.
  • Control: Having a personal brand puts you in control of your life. It‘s about taking charge of who you are and what you need to do—not doing what you feel others want you to do.
  • Achievement: You can achieve more when you are aware of and working towards fulfilling your unique potential when you are able to use all that you have to offer.

In the Identity and Personal Branding section of these modules, you’ll become acquainted with the term personal branding. Personal branding is about finding your own voice, feeling empowered to take ownership of your educational and career path, and deciding what it is that you will contribute to the world. Defining your personal brand allows you to take charge of your future.

The takeaway: You’ll learn how to manage your own identity as an individual with a set of unique talents who knows how to use his or her gifts to the fullest capacity.

Once you successfully understand who you are and what your personal brand is, you’ll realize that you have something valuable to contribute—to a college, a workplace, and the world— that no one else can. Discovering this “secret sauce” can help guide your education and career decisions in order to reach your goals.

Turning Your Identity Into a Brand

Successful companies have brands that distinguish them from their competition. Chances are you can immediately think of some elements of your favorite brands, such as colors, logos, and characters. What comes to mind when you think of Apple or Starbucks, for example? Your goal when creating a personal brand is to emulate the success of such companies so that the people you want to influence remember elements of your brand whenever your name comes up. But a brand image—whether corporate or personal—involves much more than colors and logos, regardless of how appealing that bitten apple or smiling mermaid may be.

A brand image is the complete personality of a brand. It is the accumulation of all customer experiences with the brand or product, and a company does everything within its power to make sure that image is positive, as well as unique in the market. A positive brand image is developed over time when a company consistently delivers on a brand promise.

The identity modules you are embarking on will challenge you to think of your brand characteristics—those aspects of your identity that you want to be known for. To get you to begin to think about your own brand, think about some well-known brands, and jot down your impressions—consider both what the brands solidly stand for as well as the emotions you feel about them.

Module 1 | Can I See Some I.D.?—Understanding Your Authentic Identity

Now go a step further—ask yourself why you have a specific emotional reaction, be it positive or negative, to a company. How did the organization make you feel the way you feel? You can jot down the answers next to your impressions above, or make notes below and when you’ve completed the other modules you can see how your responses have changed and evolved.