How To Rebrand Yourself at Work



“If you are not a brand, you are a commodity.” — Philip Kotler

I was responding to a comment, about how to rebrand yourself, but then realized it’s worth sharing more broadly.

Here we go.

One of the things I do at work on a regular basis is mentor people on how to rebrand themselves, whether it’s to get a better review, build a better relationship with their manager, get a new position, or take their game to the next level.

As Marshall Goldsmith says, “What got you here, won’t get you there.”

In my experience, there are a few things that you can do to make a big difference in reshaping your brand at work.

Here is my short-list of things you can do:

  1. Solve your manager’s top problems, quickly and effectively (this puts you in the inner circle of trust — if you don’t know what is top of mind, then ask, and ask often.  And, if you think you know what’s top of mind, check anyway, you’ll be surprised.)
  2. Establish rapport (if no rapport, then no influence)
  3. Know your manager’s key concerns and address them (what holds you back?  What are three things to work on?)
  4. Know your manager’s values and connect at the values (Always connect at the value to find your rapport and build connection)
  5. Set the example that your peer’s want as their leader (Do the Gandhi thing and “be the change”)  You might have all the credentials but you have to “fit in”, if you want to stand out.

If you do nothing else, then do #1.

It’s the fastest and most effective way to become the right-hand person.  It also forces you to become extremely relevant.  You have to know what the top problems really are.   This is a fast way to win over a new manager or to even win over an old one.  People like people who make their problems go away.

If you don’t know their values, then you’ll have a tough time creating rapport.

Be aware and deliberately focus and showcase on what’s actually valued.  For example, if you value “experience” but your manager values “fresh ideas”, then touting your experience might work against you.   How ironic is that?   If what they value now is “fresh ideas” and new perspectives, then give them more of what they want (focus on your blue ocean ideas, your disruptive thinking, and ask questions that would “change the business” vs. “run the business.”)

If you don’t know the their “convincer strategy” (what it takes for them to be convinced — do they need to hear something 3 times, do they need to hear it from 3 other people, etc.), then you’ll miss how to change their beliefs.

Judgment is subtle, but demonstrating great judgment is the difference that makes the difference. It’s quiet and behind the scenes, but people are always forming impressions of your judgment. It gets revealed if somebody was asked to “act like you” or “what would Bob do in this situation?”  It also gets revealed when the manager is out of office – who do they leave in charge?  Usually, it’s the one they trust to exercise better judgment.

Sometimes the best thing you can do is to “do the opposite” of what you’d normally do, to periodically surprise people and have them see you in a new light.

Like I said, I mentor people on this all the time, and I use the same strategies to continuously reinvent myself at work.  But the thing that continues to surprise me is just how super effective #1 above is at changing your effectiveness at work.  It’s often counter-intuitive especially when you want to go off and make big impact that you think is relevant.  You have to win the trust first, then the leash gets longer, until finally you break the chain (and if you mess up, you simply go back to solving the highest priority problems on your manager’s plate.)

Think of it as expanding your sphere of influence in a Stephen Covey sort of way.

You Might Also Like

How To Rebrand a Brand

Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future

StoryBranding: Creating Standout Brands Through the Power of Story

The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding

Top 5 Lessons Learned in Personal Branding

Image by notsogoodphotography.


  1. So much great stuff here packed so pithily! Most people don’t get it–it’s not just about fulfilling your nominal job requirements well. There’s so much more. In most corporate environments, success–if by success one includes recognition, including rewards & promotions–demands we look beyond checking merely off our commitments, & leveraging your checklist is a great way to elevate our game & to validate we’re on track. Superb post–thanks!

    • Thank you!

      It helps that I get asked this question on a regular basis. I realized that I never actually compacted it down into a nice, tight answer or formula.

      While there are more parts to the formula and it would be great to elaborate, I think that this pretty much reflects how I’ve helped folks completely turn their situations around, myself included. It’s pretty repeatable.

  2. JD, As always, this was really helpful. Regarding Establishing Rapport: I have a book recommendation that a co-worker recently sent to me; it’s Just Listen by Mark Goulston. It’s great.

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