Break Free From Your Personal Branding Corset

When watching Mr. Rogers and Barney with my daughters became more than I could bear (I lasted a dozen episodes in the cardigan-clad gentleman’s “Neighborhood” and 10 minutes with the purple dinosaur’s “Friends”), I introduced them to movie musicals.

We danced on imaginary rooftops with Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins, swung suitcases confidently with Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music and sang “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” with Judy Garland in Meet Me in St. Louis.

Toss the corset and outdated thinking to find a personal branding strategy that fits | KOTAW Content MarketingMy daughters couldn’t wait to grow up and go to an elegant Christmas Eve ball like Esther Smith (Garland) and Rose Smith (Lucille Bremer) did in the 1944 musical and pestered their grandmother to make them red and green velvet dresses just like the ones the sisters wore in the movie.

They also wanted my mom to make corsets for them so their waists would look tiny when they twirled in their party dresses. Wasn’t that the secret to getting their dance cards filled?

Seeing Purple

The last question almost made me wish I’d given Barney a second chance.

Fortunately, my daughters outgrew their corseted thinking. But I talk to a lot of people who retain very constricted views about personal branding.

They’ve convinced themselves that there is only one way to brand themselves and that, unless they’re willing to squeeze themselves into a tightly-defined personal branding style, they might as well not bother with personal branding at all.

Here’s my loosely-wrapped gift to you: You must bother with personal branding — it is no longer optional — but there are personal branding strategies to fit anyone’s style.

Whether you’re brash or shy, conservative or eccentric, generous or miserly, there are strategies that will help showcase your strengths and minimize your weaknesses.

Personal branding is tricky, and you may find it difficult to manage without expert guidance. Get all the help you need. But don’t let anyone — pro or amateur — tell you that your personal branding choices are limited.

Toss the corset and outdated thinking. Find a personal branding strategy that fits, and your professional dance card will always be full.

It’s better to give than to receive, but I do want something from you: your comments! Please share your thoughts below. Wishing you and your loved ones a fabulous holiday season!


  1. “Don’t you think I could be a sensation without the corset?” Yes! You can! In fact, you are much more attractive when you’re not wincing in pain. OUCH! Great post, Katherine. Loved the personal touch – and I’m with you on Barney. Give me Sponge Bob any day :)

  2. Katherine Kotaw says:

    Sponge Bob is cool! Actually makes me laugh. And thank you so much for your corset-liberated comments!

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Katherine – I’m hooked! I can’t wait to see what wonderful things you’ll share with us during your 12 Days series. Personal branding is difficult but knowing you don’t have to be squeezed into one branding style makes the task less daunting and actually more creative. It allows people to be themselves. I think we all wear many hats – having different personality styles depending on what we are doing – and that should show when we brand ourselves as well.

    And I’m right there with you – watching Barney about made me lose my mind!

    • Katherine Kotaw says:

      No corsets needed, Elizabeth! As much as we shouldn’t let everything hang out in public, we don’t need to bind our personalities (or our talents) into a size-zero idea of personal branding.

      I’ve been so busy writing that I just now discovered that YOU have a blog. I promise to take time soon to read it. It will be my reward for the day!

      • Elizabeth says:

        Thank you for stopping by my blog Katherine – that was really so sweet of you to take the time to check it out. I’m still trying to find my voice and my “brand”! It’s a work in progress, just like me! :)

  4. […] Look Beyond Supposed Limitations: Break Free From Your Personal Branding Corset […]

  5. I cringe at thinking of a corset! Good point that no one needs to fit into a mold as there’s lots of ways to do personal branding – no one cookie cutter options work anymore as people see right through it. What fabulous childhood memories you gave your girls!

    • Katherine Kotaw says:

      Thank you so much, Joann, for visiting my blog! I like the corset analogy because, while most of us could endure the pain of a “tight squeeze” personal branding strategy for a special occasion, few of us could successfully manage it long term. And, in the digital age, everyone would be watching when we revealed our not-so-perfectly cinched selves. It’s hard to fit cookies into a mold — and the ones you plop onto a cookie sheet taste just as good.

  6. […] Break Free From Your Personal Branding Corset […]

  7. Another classic story by my Klassic Kat ;)

    How did I not leave a comment in the original post? BAD KITTO! :D #HUGSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

    You are right – how can there be one way to create a personal brand when no one person is the same? <3


    PS: Have a strategy for a crazy, caffeine addict known as Kitto? :P

    • Katherine Kotaw says:

      Well, there were 12 in a row, Kitty. :)

      You are already doing a fantastic job with your personal brand, Kitto. My only advice is to carve out a piece of your day that is JUST for writing for YOU. Turn off phones, click out of the Internet, tell Oreo to take a nap and for a set time each day, WRITE! Even if it’s just an hour, even if it’s in the middle of the night, WRITE! Because writing is not only a part of your personal brand, it’s an essential part of your personal IDENTITY. So you must protect and cherish it. Do whatever it takes to WRITE, WRITE and WRITE!!!!!

      Lots of love and hugs of everlasting support and encouragement,

      Your Kat

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