personal_branding

Is It Ever Too Late to Change Your Personal Brand?

Personal branding is a topic I’m personally passionate about, and one that’s very relevant in today’s business world—especially for assistants. Your role requires a certain professional presence after all. You need others to respect you and view you as a valuable contributor. Without the power of a positive personal brand, it’s much harder to get things done, influence others, and achieve success.

Many people wonder if it’s ever too late to change your personal brand. Here’s the good news: No, in my opinion, it’s never too late. However, (here’s the bad news) it’s a process that takes significant effort and time.

You see, branding is all about perceptions. Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, once said that your personal brand is “what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” In short, it’s about how others perceive you, which ultimately impacts how they treat you and the opportunities they afford you now and in the future.

We all know that perceptions can be inaccurate. People can see you one way when, in reality, you’re actually something entirely different. Once they have an idea in their mind, it’s hard to shake—but not impossible.

Think of a business that has undergone a major rebranding in the past. Perhaps they wanted to appeal to a new audience or shake a bad reputation. Any company that has ever rebranded knows how difficult it can be. Still, sometimes it simply has to be done.

I once worked with an assistant who had struggled enormously in the role for about a year before she finally broke through and gained confidence in her abilities. But by then, people already had an image of who she was. They viewed her as incompetent and ineffective—regardless of the fact that she was doing quite well presently. As a result, she found that her authority was constantly undermined, her requests sidelined, and her interactions full of condescension.

She had a major project ahead of her to revise her personal brand. To do it, I recommended a three-step process. If you’re struggling with a brand that doesn’t serve you, this is the same process you should follow.

Acknowledge It
Start by acknowledging to yourself that you have a branding problem. If there were specific situations or actions that led up to this, spend some time evaluating your part in things.

It may also be useful to discuss the situation with others too. For example, the assistant I worked with spoke to her manager and said something like this: “I realize that I struggled for a while when I was first getting my feet wet here. I’m feeling much more confident these days.”

Her manager was happy to hear this and said that he had, indeed, noticed her progress.

Sometimes, I think people are afraid of publicly acknowledging their past struggles. But when you do so from hindsight, you can often help others see how far you’ve come. You can snap them out of their pattern of thinking and help them re-evaluate what they’re seeing now.

Behave Differently
Remember that actions speak louder than words. If you want to be treated differently, you have to behave differently.

If your personal brand is that you’re frantic and disorganized, you have to stop that behavior before anyone will stop thinking of you that way. You can’t simply say, “Oh, that was the old me!” and expect others to believe you. You have to develop new, positive behaviors that project your new, positive brand.

Be Consistent
Above all, you have to be consistent in your new behaviors. Doing something different once in a while is not enough to change perceptions.

If you want to upgrade your personal brand by elevating your wardrobe, for example, you can’t wear your nice suit on Monday and then bust out the jeans on Tuesday. People have short memories. It’s better to choose a brand you can commit to and stick it out.

Finally, it’s worthwhile noting that, once you have a personal brand that you believe serves you well in the workplace, you must do everything in your power to protect it. It’s much easier to keep a positive brand than to repair a damaged brand.


Chrissy Scivicque is a career coach and corporate trainer who believes that work can be a nourishing, enriching part of the life experience. Her website, EatYourCareer.com, is devoted to that mission. You’re invited to join the FREE Eat Your Career Resource Library where you’ll gain immediate access to dozens of tools to advance your professional skills and achieve career fulfillment.

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17 thoughts on “Is It Ever Too Late to Change Your Personal Brand?”

  1. Great article and tips! I plan on using them as my original boss didn’t trust people so I didn’t have full access to assist her as an Executive Assistant. My new boss does trust me to do things but I feel like people have an impression from my first boss. I have gained confidence in my position and now just got to implement the tips to show others that I have the skills.

  2. I have been an executive assistant for a number of years and found the article on Personal Branding to be excellent. Years ago, an executive told me during a performance review that he did not want me to change who I am — he just wanted me to be more confident in me. I have always remembered his words and when I moved on to other jobs since then, confidence and poise have been an important part of my brand and the image I project in the workplace. I am hopeful others will read articles like the one shared above and think about the perception they give to others in their dress, speech and actions and strive to find ways (even small ones) to improve and be the very best you can be in your role both in the workplace and the world.

  3. I think an important part of your brand is your voice. I had a friend who found getting hired in a ‘professional’ capacity a bit tricky because she had a ‘childlike’ voice and spoke in a hesitant manner. She made a friend of an acting coach who helped her to ‘hear’ herself and learn to speak with a more authoritative and confident manner. The job market ‘seemed’ to open up to her after she understood how to sound like a capable person. (This began to affect her personal relationships in a positive way as well.)

  4. Great article! I agree that one can always change their brand by changing their behavior, being consistent and acknowledging the problem or the solution. Sometimes one can change their brand to a higher brand. In other words, I am a great assistant, but I may want to go into management. I like the three steps you provided.

  5. I really like the first point , that you should acknowledge it (if your brand has “issues”). I find that people respond positively and respect you more if you admit your mistakes and are self aware. It also helps you find out how other people may view you. If you tell someone “oh I think I came across unorganized in that meeting” they might fire back with ” yeah a little, but if you do A, B, and C, that won’t happen next time” and help you better yourself.

    1. Hi Erin! Thanks. Right on point. I love the entire blog written by Judi Holler is going to speak at our 24th Annual Conference for Administrative Excdellence this October and I can’t wait to hear her in person.

  6. Dee-Dee Grayson

    I enjoyed the above article “Is It Ever Too Late to Change Your Personal Brand?” Working for a corporation that thrives on change, growth, and education, I will utilized the three points in my personal and professional life. I want my brand to be known that not only am I an excellent Assistant, but I am a good Christian and Foster mom. In other words, I want my brand to be I am a good person with integrity, and character and whatever I do, I want people to feel confident they will get my very best. When my clients give me a request to handle, they must feel that it is handled and they need not worry about it. I agree that you must not just say the words, but there must be action that follow your words and you must be consistent. Great article!

  7. Thank you for the article. Personal branding can also be anything simple like being punctual in whatever one does but consistency in that aspect, as stated in the article is vital to protect it.

  8. Good Morning and a very happy wonderful Wednesday to all.
    Joan, thank you for this input on rebranding.
    I was made to understand that I am seen as very authoritative.
    I see this as a negative brand. Please let me know your thoughts.
    Thank you for continuing to inspire.
    Have a wonderful day everyone.

    1. Bibi, it is interesting when our brand might be described as takes the lead, assertive or authoritative. I don’t think those are “bad” descriptors. However, some people might see you as intimidating even though that is not your intent. You might want to explore what a person means when they say authoraitive. It can have a negative or positive connotation. You might “soften” your approach to others while acting confidentially. Or possibly, ask for input from others instead of giving your advice or “telling” someone what to do. If you tend to take the leader role a lot and take over a convesation, you might encourage others to participate. Also you may need to alter some of the words you use. Try a few different things and see if they help.

      1. Thank you for your response Joan.
        It will take some time for me to absorb all of it, but you can bet I will work on each suggestion.
        Love you for caring about all the Admins out here!
        Have a lovely day.

  9. Great information. After reading this I believe one thing I can do to create my “brand” is to determine how I want to be seen by others, then create a sentence or two that reminds me of it.
    I can repeat to myself daily and in times of stress and ask myself “how would this person move forward”.

    1. Debralee, I just covered the topic of professional brand and professional trademark today while teaching my World Class Assistant Certification course. It is important to determine what you want your brand to be. If a person doesn’t figure out what they want their brand to communicate, then people will “brand” them and it may not be complimentary. Professional brand encompasses appearance, body language, actions, speech, attitude and more. I like your idea of creating a sentence or two to remind you. Even write it on a Post It and place it in your closet where you get dressed or by your mirror.

  10. What a great article! I had an Admin position with a leader that really did not want to have an Assistant..so I got no communication or very little, which made it hard to look as if I knew what I was doing. I have been an Admin for over 20 years..and I know my job. Well, after the first year..I definitely had to re-brand myself with this leader…and it was hard..but eventually they came to realize that they did need and assistant and we worked quite well together. It was a journey well taken!

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