William’s Words: A Decade of Personal Branding

William ArrudaWilliam’s Words
By William Arruda

A note from the Founder of Reach Personal Branding.

A Decade of Personal Branding

I could not be more excited. Reach Personal Branding turns ten this year. It’s hard to believe it has been a decade since I founded Reach. As part of our celebration to mark this auspicious event, we‘ll be publishing a series of Top Tens focused on personal branding.

Previously this year, we published the Top Ten Strongest brands from our 2010 survey and the Top Ten Personal Branding Trends for 2011 (actually there were 11 but who’s counting?). This Top Ten focuses on the ten biggest changes to personal branding since I launched Reach.

Personal Branding Then and Now – The Top Ten Changes in a Decade

It’s hard to be a pioneer – but incredibly satisfying. It has been exciting to watch how personal branding has developed from an idea to a global industry. Here are the top ten changes that made the greatest impact in the past decade:

  1. From Five to Thousands: When I started Reach, there were five of us in the world with personal branding businesses. Today, there are thousands of personal branding organizations and consultants who provide personal branding services.
  2. From Confusion to Understanding: In the early years, the term personal branding conjured up thoughts of hot branding irons or the desire to be a celebrity. Today, it is mostly associated with words like authenticity, differentiation and relevance.
  3. From Abstract to Concrete: Until the launch of our certification programs in 2002, there was no formal, structured personal branding training for coaches and HR professionals. You could get a certificate in branding or in career development, but nothing focused on personal branding. In the past decade, we have delivered over 1,000 personal branding certifications.
  4. From the US to the World: When I started Reach Personal Branding, I was living in Paris. When I would talk about personal branding to people in France or the UK, I would often hear “ That’s soooooo American.” And it is true. At the beginning, despite residing in Paris, most of our clients were American. Today, that has changed. I regularly deliver presentations on all continents and we have Reach-certified Personal Branding Strategists in 25 countries!
  5. From CEOs to Everyone: Initially, the only people who were investing in personal branding services were CEOs and entrepreneurs. Today, it is a guiding philosophy for professionals in all stages of their career and at all levels in the organization.
  6. From Career Search to Talent Development: The first ‘pain-point’ for personal branding was job search. It was about the time of the dot-com crash and associated recession. The need to stand out from many other qualified others became apparent and personal branding was a logical solution. At that time, companies were dubious about the value of personal branding. Today, most of Reach’s clients are major companies who seek to engage, inspire and retain their talent through the power of personal branding. We have installed personal branding programs in 20% of the Fortune 100 and at thousands of other organizations around the globe.
  7. From Real-world to Real- + Virtual-World: Using the Internet for personal development was a new concept ten years ago. Few people had Googled themselves (the term ego-surfing didn’t even exist!) and even fewer had their own web sites. Enter Web 2.0. Now, online branding is just part of what we do. Today, it’s hard to find a professional who doesn’t have a LinkedIn profile, hasn’t Googled him/herself and isn’t concerned about being visible on the World Wide Web.
  8. From Adults to Teens: Just in the past couple of years, we are seeing the concepts of personal branding being used with teens. In fact, the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth and Kaplan recently released studies showing that college admissions officers are scouring the Internet to learn about the brands of potential students.
  9. From Words to Pictures: Personal branding was largely focused on text – whether an article or a profile on a social network. Today with the ease of creating, sharing and promoting pictures and video, personal branding has become whole – allowing us to deliver a complete communication through the power of images and video. In 2010, we launched Personal Branding TV to use video as a tool to help people build their brands.
  10. From Nice-to-Have to Must-Have: Over the past decade people have jumped on the brand-wagon, making personal branding impossible to ignore. The increasingly competitive world we live in makes personal branding essential. When you combine that with the ease of building your brand, you can see how personal branding has grown from a cool idea to a proven strategy for success and fulfillment!


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One Response to “William’s Words: A Decade of Personal Branding”

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