personal brand

The simple 3-step to find your Personal Brand Purpose









I absolutely do not believe that humans have some esoteric ‘life purpose’ (although I do believe in ‘life projects’). As humans, we are driven to procreate and create, certainly – but to burden individuals with the unsubstantiated belief that we all have a highly specific, designated higher life purpose ( a bit like ‘one true love’) is cruel, and relegates countless creative, entrepreneurial women to a state of frustrated procrastination – frantically trying to decide their elusive life purpose before they get on with, er, their life.

HOWEVER – I absolutely DO believe in the concept of a Personal Brand Purpose.

Your personal brand – and consequently your business/career/product/service – should exist to serve your goals and your lifestyle. Otherwise, what’s the point? If you nail your Personal Brand Purpose, it will allow you to block out all other voices, to focus on where you are going (and why), and to take or reject opportunities and decisions based on total clarity.

So, how to find this Personal Brand Purpose?

  • Step 1: Write down every descriptive word of how you want to feel in this life – single words only, please (ie loved, creative, smart, wealthy, clever, generous, expansive, admired)
  • Step 2: Strike out every one of those words that relies on someone else ‘giving’ you that feeling (ie loved, admired)
  • Step 3: Of the remaining list, cut it down to just ONE

That final word is your Personal Brand Purpose.

That word is your guide, your rock, your compass. In the face of overwhelming information, ideas and potential indecision, it is what you should base everything in your brand and business around – the transformation you give your clients, the way your daily work and future goals make you feel, the very services and products you create. Ask yourself at every fork in the path – does this way take me closer to that word… or further away from it?

If you’re honest with yourself, the answer will be clear. And the path will be clear, too. And, funnily enough, this word is not just your guide for your personal brand and business – you can refer to it to guide your relationships, your health, your wardrobe…

And my word?


PS: If you know you need professional help when it comes to finding this clarity and focus – for your brand, your business, and your brain – Brand Spanking might just be for you…

How do you turn on your dark brand?

There are no shortcuts when it comes to creating a dark personal brand (aka – a mysterious, magnetic, moody, Machiavellian, mystical, magical experience for your audience).
If you’re not turned on by your personal brand – which is what happens when you try to be something you’re not, or when you copy others – your audience will be turned off.
Your audience knows a real – or manufactured – dark brand when they see one.
So, don’t take shortcuts.
Instead, nail these 3 steps – IN THIS ORDER:
1. Your Identity (the internal brand) – who you are and what you want
2. Your Image (the external brand) – how you communicate your identity
3. Your Income (the strategic brand) – what business model respects your identity
Not sure if you’re a dark personal brand?
Trust your instincts.
There is no formula – just the hallmarks of a dark personal brand: PRIMAL, PROVOCATIVE, POWERFUL. You will instinctively be drawn to these concepts, and they will be an undercurrent through your whole life – if you choose to look. Darkness leaves clues.
Been ignoring those clues?
Feel like you’re play-acting, pretending, procrastinating?
Want to turn yourself on again?
Don’t edit or second-guess your answer; let the symbols come directly and strongly from your subconscious – and they will tell you what you’re made of, and whether you’re a dark brand… or not.
(*A profound answer, from an extraordinary female adventurer and author who later went on to trek solo across Australia’s outback: ‘Desert, purity, fire, air, hot wind, space, sun, desert desert desert.’)

How do you create a dark personal brand?

I specialise in personal branding and Dark Branding – for women, and for the female audience.

Clients come to me for advice on creating a dark personal brand.

Do you want a dark personal brand?

You need to start at the beginning.

So, let’s break it down.

A personal brand is:

An experience.

You create an experience for your audience with 3 things, IN THIS ORDER:

  1. a lead character (your internal Identity)
  2. a storyline (your external Image)
  3. a way to interact (your Income Strategy & Source)

A personal brand is not:

A logo, tagline, website, or any other copy or visual device.

(The test: remove those things from your current brand… and see if anything remains.)


A dark brand is:

An experience… that is primal, provocative and powerful.

You can personalise these concepts by asking yourself 3 things:

  • What’s my Desire (the primal)? – ie: what do you want to be/do/have?
  • What’s my Dissent (the provocative)? – ie: what makes you different?
  • What’s my Dynamite (the powerful)? – ie: what’s your one-of-a-kind zone of genius?

A dark brand is not:

A cheap marketing stunt that uses sex, death, fear, depression, hate etc for shock value.

(The test: again – remove those things from your current brand… and see if anything remains.)

The above is a simplified blueprint of a professional process that requires time, courage, honesty and implementation. There are no shortcuts, and it’s not for everyone.

But the rewards are great if you are one of the ones.




What is Dark Branding… and are you it?

I coined the term, Dark Branding, to describe the realm of storytelling that is the antithesis of, and antidote to, light branding – which is where marketing is pretty much stuck at the moment (think the endless, cookie-cutter memes of ‘happiness’ and ‘gratefulness’, and content or brands that perpetuate the myth of perfect motherhood/bodies/interiors/diets etc etc etc).

While there will always need to be light AND dark (read up on Taoism for more on this), society’s current obsession with the light side of life – and the misguided idea that we should be working towards a Utopia – means that there is an unparalleled opportunity right now for genuinely dark brands, whether a person or a product, to cut through the forgettable mass and make a unforgettable mark.

But what is Dark Branding?

Dark Branding must be:
• Primal (example: Dita von Teese). Primal refers to the physical plane – your actual human body; all the messy blood, sweat and tears of it, the erotic and the enjoyable, the painful and the pleasurable. Light brands are often concerned with the spiritual realm, and the rejection of the physical.
• Provocative (example: Twin Peaks). That which is unusual, unapologetic, unique and utterly, enigmatically wondrous owns this space. Rather than simply ‘sex sells’, the truly provocative is something very, very hard to pin down.
• Powerful (example: Museum of Old and New Art, aka MONA). Something becomes powerful because it is bold, boldly goes where others don’t and is beholden to nothing. Something powerful cannot be ignored, and it therefore changes and challenges the world around it.

These three are the non-negotiables.

Dark Branding is also:
• Premium – because it is, by its very nature, a niche proposition
• Personal – ditto
• Peerless – ditto
• Perennial – ditto
• Polarising – ditto
• Un-PC – and therefore needed on our intellectually timid planet

Dark Branding is NOT:
• Simply sex or porn – it is more sophisticated and subtle than this
• Obsessed with death – this is an element or theme, naturally, but it is not the be all
• (Only) visually dark – a dark brand can be visually light, yet still have an undercurrent of darkness (think of one of the original masters of personal branding, Frida Kahlo)

What does this mean for you?

Well, if you have a personal or product-based brand that is not getting traction, or feels stale or off somehow, here are some questions for you…

This is an affliction. It comes from people being scared of their inherent darkness. They avoid making the hard decision to understand their own darkness and instead look around them at what’s trending – and simply copy the conventions of the day (this is why those insipid, sparkly gold, handwritten Instagram quotes abound). But if your true nature leans to the dark, then the closer you get to expressing this, the more your world will resonate with others (and with yourself).

This is less common – because it’s simply more challenging to be openly dark than it is openly light. Society is not so accepting of the dark at the moment. But, again, it’s about being yourself. A true light brand (not a contrived, copycat version) is a wonderful thing.

Personally, I have never tried to be light. I’ve always known it’s not me. (If you know of the Birthday Book, I am born on the Day of the Dark Pragmatist, which it’s eerily apt). I have researched, created and collected dark brands for more than 20 years – and I currently have two of my own. I have admittedly been guilty of toning down my darkness in the past. But experience has taught me one thing: if your brand turns you on, it will turn others on. If you are turned off by yourself, then others will also turn off from you. So the closer you are to your true self (whether you lean to the light or the dark), the more successful and happier you will be, both personally and professionally.

So, if you are a dark brand – be brave and go bloody be a dark brand!

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Only fearless women have real personal brands

There is much written on how to ‘create’ a personal brand.

Thing is, you can’t. Not an authentic one, anyway. Personal branding isn’t a shiny new logo, website or tagline. That’s decoration. And a true personal brand can’t be copied from others, or constructed from thin air.

Think of the most memorable women you know, real or imagined, living or dead. Cleopatra, Marie Antoinette, Frida Kahlo… The fact you know of them means they have a personal brand. And chances are, the women who spring into your mind, not one of them has a personal brand that was created by a marketing company, ad agency or branding specialist. They have a personal brand because they unapologetically, single-mindedly pursued their own path.

Personal branding is the journey of defining yourself, professionally and personally, in order to leave an impression in the hearts and minds of others.

What most people don’t realise, is that this definition – a true personal brand – only arises through letting go. (Conversely, learning to let go can be attained through the process of personal branding.) What I mean by this, is that you can only be ‘defined’ in the eyes of yourself or others when you remove and release the noise and clutter around you. You must let go of anything that is copied, constructed or contrived from the world around you in order to attain true clarity, courage, conviction, confidence…

A principle of Taoism, letting go is one of the hardest and most rewarding things for humans to do. Want true serenity, power, focus and freedom? Let go.

Like all hard, rewarding things in this world, letting go takes ongoing practice… Whether it’s the clothes in your wardrobe that represent another time and now make you feel trapped, or your need to control a situation because you fear uncertainty and chaos, change and growth can only happen when you make space for them by letting go. Your personal brand is no different.

The concept of letting go has been looming large in my life – and the lives of my clients – lately. Ruthless ‘removal, refusal and restriction’ are the tenets I teach to my female clients in order for them to reach and retain the burning clear brand that is inside them (this is important to note: your personal brand is only to be found inside you; it is never an external creation).

One thing that happens as a result of this letting go is that your world becomes much smaller. When you no longer tolerate the unnecessary, and you are unapologetic and open about this (when you own it, and own up to it, and then model it for others), things drop away – people, places, projects, distractions, social conventions and expectations… This is scary for most people (particularly as it seems counter-intuitive to brand-building, and as you will get push-back from those around you who are challenged by your focus). But if you are brave and persist through this scariness, the reward is that your world goes on to become much, much larger. Your inner clarity, courage and conviction (your personal brand) becomes so laser sharp that a multitude of new external possibilities and opportunities arises for you. This is why only the most fearless women will have a personal brand that means anything in our over-stuffed world.

Letting go is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done – personally and professionally – and I have to work on it, each and every day. But I know with utter conviction that is is the only way to approach this journey of defining myself.

Letting go is the ONLY concept you need to master if you want a personal brand that is enduring and authentic. Your personal brand will emerge when you let go of everything that is no longer you, and no longer serves you (identity), your work (calling) and your end game (desires).





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