You Are a Brand


For the last five years, I’ve taught an undergraduate course at the university near where I live. The course is called Fundamentals of Fundraising, and is offered in the School of Business, as a part of the Business/Non-Profit Management track.

I think most of the students would tell you (after taking the class), that it wasn’t what they expected. Yes, they learn about the process of writing grants, researching foundations, developing annual fund programs, planning donor/constituent events, relationship building, etc. There is, however, a message I give them on Night 1 of the class that they don’t usually expect. I look at the room full of 20-somethings, pause and say “You…Are…A…Brand”.

Typically, there is silence at first, some puzzled looks, and I can see their minds processing what I just said and thinking “maybe I’m in the wrong room…I thought this was fundraising, and he’s talking about brands?”…. Nope, you’re in the right classroom. The thing is, that whether we are talking about philanthropy, agencies, marketing, sales, or any industry, we always have the opportunity to represent our qualities and values. We can establish and grow our brand by intentionally connecting, and building relationships with peers, colleagues, and potential clients as we serve them.

So, how are each of us a brand? It may seem like a stretch at first, but the reality is, as we interact with others over time, they come to expect certain behaviors, attitudes, and responses from us. Our passions, places of service and giving, our work ethic, our authenticity, listening, kindness, and willingness to serve, are a part of what defines us. It is our brand.

In an article just out in Forbes (June 8, 2018), Lakesha Greenwade states “Personal branding is the modern-day scorecard that measures a leader’s core message delivery, their professional presence in person and online, and their application of foundational values both in and out of the office”.

Presence and values; those are two keys from this definition. Without giving others a true sense of who we are and our core values, the authenticity needed to establish a meaningful, lasting, personal brand will be limited. What’s your brand? Does it need some work? Maybe just “adjusting the dials” a little? If you need someone to guide you in this process, you’re in the right place!


Greenwade, L. (June 8, 2018). The importance of crafting a powerful personal brand. Forbes.