Identifying and conveying the essence of what makes you stand out from the crowd is what personal branding is all about. But it’s important to distinguish between the essence of you and details about you.
For instance, you may have birds on your business cards and use that motif for your PowerPoint presentations, but your personal brand isn’t that you are a bird. It may be that one of the things that define your essence is your sense of exploration and freedom, and those birds are part of how you present it. Or you may have a blog where you post photos and tell stories about the food you make and where you eat when you travel for business. Again, your personal brand wouldn’t be defined by what kind of food you like, but more that your approach to life and business extends beyond the office.
There are an uncountable number of details about you, and when you think of conveying your personal brand, each of those details should reflect your personal brand.
To get a handle on “essence” as an idea, it’s instructive to look at the dictionary’s definition of essence, and David Ogilvy’s definition of “brand.”
Essence: 1. The intrinsic or indispensable properties that serve to characterize or identify something. 2. The most important ingredient; the crucial element.” — http://www.thefreedictionary.com/essence
David Ogilvy’s definition of Brand: “The intangible sum of a product’s attributes: its name, packaging, and price, its history, its reputation, and the way it’s advertised.”
Notably, there is a part of “personal branding” that crosses over into the realm of definition that uses words like “essence,” “intrinsic,” and “intangible.” It can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. It can also be a source of freedom. Consistency in personal branding doesn’t mean that every time you present yourself you need to do it in the same way—quite the contrary. It means that you can (and need to) creatively present that same essence in new ways that are individual to the medium you are using. The details will change, but the essence will remain.
When a company thinks about its brand, that brand is, as Mr. Ogilvy says, how all of the details come together to paint a picture. And as the definition of “essence” points out, the word means “the most important ingredient; the crucial element.” Once you find that ingredient, that element, your personal branding becomes a quest to convey it in all of the details of the way you present yourself.