Anyone can easily be a brand, even if there’s no office full of employees or official letterhead to back it up. You also don’t need to be a celebrity to feel like you need a personal brand. When one individual is marketing himself or herself, defining an image is key. But so is living up to that image. With just one person standing for an enterprise, everything from appearance to acquaintances can suddenly be important to investors and clients. You want to think about what kind of message you’re trying to give off and then make choices that consistently back up your image.

Being your own brand is also important for those who aren’t yet employed. What you’re putting into the world during your job search can impact the course and longevity of your career. This says that you know who you are and what you bring to the table. Your potential employer can rely on you to consistently fulfill that role.

The best way to define your personal brand, first of all, is to be honest with yourself about who you are. Surely, everyone wants to radiate a presence that they’re better than that person they are at 10 a.m. on a Saturday in their pajamas, which is fair. You don’t have to broadcast your personal life or your vices into the world. But trying to be a perfect specimen at all times can become tiresome and superficial. So first, think about how you actually identify and how that can translate to the positive messages you want to carry over into your professional life. If you’re typically laid-back person who likes to trust instincts, trying to project a brand as a polished go-getter will ultimately backfire on you.

In fact, if you think about it, every person is a brand. You may work for a large international company, and it’s important to represent them accurately. But you’re first and foremost an individual. Whether you’re chatting on social networking sites or out in the world, everything you say and do is a reflection of your own independent brand. Even if you’re in a lax atmosphere now, it’s important to remember that your brand of today can be carried over into all of your future business endeavors. What you put out into the world can affect your future standing and how others will perceive you.

Check back next week for more tips on how to build your personal brand.