The Dorie Clark Method of Reinventing Your Personal Brand

BlogHer Original Post

I've had a lot of identities over the course of my post-collegiate career: Fiction writer, aquatics coordinator, reporter, webmaster, corporate communications manager, client services representative, editor, blogger, communications director. Each role has required me to rethink how I appear in the world and to redefine how others see me. And each time would have been easier if I'd had a copy of Dorie Clark's soon-to-be released book, Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future.

The book not only provides plenty of helpful techniques and tips for every stage of the self-rebranding process, but Dorie shares how she, too, has rebranded herself several times over the course of her career. She's now a marketing and branding consultant based in the Boston area. I should also disclose that she and I go way back—we met while we were both studying at Mary Baldwin College in the early 1990s, and I have been an admirer of her work ever since.

Dorie's book grew out of a Harvard Business Review blog post, and, as of the time of this writing, was scheduled to hit the shelves on April 9. I had a chance recently to ask her some questions about personal rebranding and some of the tips and strategies you'll find in the book itself.

Dorie Clark and her book

Images courtesy Dorie Clark

Genie Gratto: There are so many branding and rebranding "experts" out in the business world. What uniquely qualifies you to help others strategize their own reinvention?

Dorie Clark: For Reinventing You, I interviewed dozens of “reinventers” and wrote about their experiences and best practices. But I’ve also been through the process myself. I started my career as a journalist, but was laid off in 2001 at the beginning of the “Internet disruption.” I had to find a new path, and eventually became a documentary filmmaker, presidential campaign spokesperson, nonprofit executive director, and today, a consultant, speaker, and author.

GG: What is the hardest thing about taking on a rebranding of oneself? What is easiest about the process?

DC: The easiest thing may be realizing that you need a change. I think a lot of people feel dissatisfied, whether in large or small ways, with the direction of their career. They may want to do something completely different, or just be able to move up the ladder of responsibility, but they know there has to be a better way. The hardest part is demonstrating your reinvention to others. People often form quick, and sometimes erroneous, impressions about who you are and what you’re capable of. Reinventing You is a guide to taking control of your reputation and ensuring that you’re being strategic about the messages you send and the value you demonstrate to others.

GG: At various points in the book, you talk about the need to gather a trusted group of advisors. Where is the best place to look for those advisors? Should they all be professional contacts, or does it make sense to tap friends for this task?

DC: It’s a good idea to have a mix of advisors in your life—both professional contacts and personal friends. If your “kitchen cabinet” is too heavily weighted in one direction, you may miss something critical: maybe you’re revealing an important part of yourself in your personal life that you’re not at work, or vice versa.

GG: You talk in the first chapter about the need to reinvent yourself even if you're staying in your own industry or job. Are there signs to watch for that tell you it's time to start the rebranding process, even if you're trying to stay where you are?

DC: For better or worse, we’re in a society that’s moving faster these days. In many fields—like my own, marketing—if you’re not keeping up, you’re going to be obsolete very fast. So even if you want to stay in one place, that requires learning new skills and ensuring others in your company are aware that you’re doing so.

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