You’ve likely heard a bit about personal branding in the last decade, as this general business marketing term came into vogue in self-employment and entrepreneurship circles. Its reach extends beyond owning a business, however.

The same tools that can help a business put forth its uniqueness and mission can be used and articulated when it comes to self-image and identity. Barring those struggling with identity disorders and such, individuals can gain real insight into themselves by considering their “personal brand.”

A novel way to look at identity, branding tools nevertheless can help folks really identify and go after a life that most speaks to them, all by owning the core message of self.

Just as businesses must do an inventory of their strengths, weaknesses and motivations, individuals must do the same, even if you don’t call it by the fancy process of “finding your brand.”

Your goals, values, talents, passions, indeed what fascinates you will drive you forward in your life. Why not do something with it after you have identified it?

Input from others is a critical part of the equation. You already know when you are good at something. You aren’t the only one telling yourself so. As such, asserting that strength and drive and spirit (with just the proper dose of humility and gratitude) will help to make inroads to where you want to go.

Companies make business plans. Individuals should never be as rigid or formulated, but should try to see a path extending outward toward his or her future.

What makes you stand out from others? (Not just vocationally — think on your personal attributes, hobbies, hates and quirks, too.) Uniqueness, the spark that we each have (however hidden) is ripe for cultivation. Use it to help you understand yourself and others, effectively communicate to others, build your talent and prosperity and happiness, and more. It is the one message no one else has any business claiming.

The keys to having a good self-image are found by similar means as branding tools:

  • How do we identify ourselves to our inner self, to our family and friends, to our colleagues and to the social, larger world?
  • do we apply (or have we been applying) our core identity in our relationships, our work life, our social sphere?
  • Are we as persons hitting the mark? Are we effective? Are we happy?

A brand stands for something. When you leave a room, however boldly or subtly, have you left a distinct impression on others? Did you show your real self? Did they see the real you in action?

What do you feel strongly about in your self, your life, your work, your family, your larger world? Are you expressing that or is it under wraps? If you express it — keeping humility, gratitude, graciousness, kindness and big-heartedness in the mix — then it should bring you good, no matter how bold and fiery and assertive. (Businesses, the same.)

There is much more that could be further explained about personal branding. As a positive means of looking at your self-image and evaluating your true identity, it’s a great tool. One need only separate those aspects that might speak more to aggressive and rigid business tactics than compassionate individual assertiveness to see its full value.

You might never have considered or liked the word “branding.” But make no mistake: your authentic self has always been your one-of-a-kind brand.