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Are Off-brand Career Moves Actually Good for Your Career?

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Of course you’ve heard the news: Everyone has a personal brand and you’d better rush to identify yours. Your brand is how you’re identified in the public sphere. It includes what type of work you do, the people you surround yourself with, the things you’re known for, your fashion sense, your online presence. In short, it’s the marketing of YOU.

Most people hate to be categorized or thought of as “only good at one thing,” but fortunately, women are breaking out of stereotypes. Look at Tilda Swinton’s controversial turn as a piece of human art at the Museum of Modern Art. Reviewers thought it was odd—maybe even off-brand—yet this exhibition was clearly part of her genre as a performance artist. It was bold.

Look at Jessica Alba’s multitasking between acting and business at The Honest Company. She’s motivated and intelligent.

Look at Condoleezza Rice’s evolution from academia into politics… and back to academia. She’s multilingual (fluent in Russian), musical (a concert pianist), and athletic (the first woman, along with Darla Moore, allowed membership at Augusta National Golf Club). Don’t underestimate her.

These are just some of many women who empower themselves with versatility. They aren’t deviating from their brand; they’re expanding it. Here are a few things to keep in mind:


The good news: You control your personal brand. You set the flow, you can make and remake your reputation, and you can (and should!) feel free to evolve. Your cumulative experiences make you a different person over the course of your life, so live it up, make your mark, and unfold the life that represents the quintessential you.


Consistency is important for branding. It solidifies you as an expert and builds trust in your opinion. But don’t fear being versatile. Unless you’re taking on a major transformation, then your extracurricular activities are probably already a fluid extension of your brand. You’ve been cast as a certain character in life, but there are many acts in the play.


You aren’t one-sided. Your character isn’t flat. Rejoice in being different from the rest. Feel free to tap into related fields to strengthen your skills and expand your expertise. Being creative with your character keeps your brain active and makes you more interesting and well-rounded. This can give you a bit of an edge and provide a bridge to evolve as you grow older.

You are different from everyone else, and that’s fantastic! Be authentic, be true to yourself, and take on new experiences with gusto. You’re marketing yourself, and you are who you are. Just like Tilda, Jessica, and Condoleezza, you can multiply your value by amplifying your personal brand.

How do you deviate from your personal brand? How does it help? Tell us in the comments!

Ask Shavonne Dargan, Vice President of National Accounts at Live Nation Network, about how she deviates from her personal brand!


Personal Branding Career Advice
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"You’ve been cast as a certain character in life, but there are many acts in the play." Beautiful—and well-said!

I love this. It's all about being true to who you are, and no one knows you better than yourself. So forget the role(s) society has cast you in, and go for what you feel like.
Maybe it's not as drastic a change as a new career path, but perhaps you can join a club or start a new hobby that will strengthen those interests that move you.

I couldn't agree more with this advice! I made an "off-brand" career move a year ago (finance to medical device start-up). Having to learn new skills and a new vocabulary for my position provided my brain much needed exercise and has also given me new ways of thinking about what I consider my "on-brand" career.

I love this too!

I got my most recent gig because I seemed interesting and interested, even though my background wasn't 100% relevant. Can I do the job? You bet. Do I love it? Darn straight. I love nothing more than working for versatile people looking for other versatile people.

Consistency is key! We sometimes get really excited to make a move, start a blog, or new project; and we often expect overnight success. Remembering to stay consistent in whatever move we make is vital in becoming successful.

Great advice! So useful to be reminded that we are one-dimensional and that we are in control of our brands and the degree of fluidity we choose.

Such a great piece! Just what I needed to cheer me on today. :-) Especially love this line: "many women who empower themselves with versatility" YES!!!

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