Top critical review
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Expected something great, got something that was just OK
on 14 December 2012
If a personal brand is a promise or what people say about you when you're not there then, you know what, I've got something to whisper at the water-cooler. Despite being recommended by many friends and associates, some of whom are even named in the "Brand You" credits and one of whom was good enough to buy me a copy - this is a book that does not live up to its promise.
The good news is that it's easy to follow, it's nicely written and the authors are clearly smart and, with two rather glaring exceptions, know their stuff. The less good news is that there's not much in Brand You that, from my own limited experience, you can't get from elsewhere. Indeed, the authors are very open about how much of the content in their book is pulled from other sources. As an example, if you really want to read something that will help you to write an excellent CV, then Bright and Earl's "Brilliant CV" does that well - in fact, much better. There are, of course, a few interesting nuggets and the authors' treatment of archetypes was genuinely thought-provoking and has made me think about and, then, rework some of my own self-advertisement: does my Linked In profile adequately evoke the Care Giver and the Sage? But even this section is a development of the work, openly acknowledged, of Margaret Mark and Carol S. Pearson.
The glaring exceptions? Well, the short chapter on building your network is, frankly, superficial and embarrassing. Better read Andy Lopata and Peter Roper instead: their book on this subject, "And Death Came Third", is excellent. And the following chapter on social media, which I think is billed as newly updated in this edition of "Brand You" is sketchy and doesn't seem to be based on the authors' authentic experiences: did somebody else write this section for them? It gives a couple of rather generic pages to topics such as your Linked In profile or setting up a personal website. Of course, a lot of this changes very fast - may have been better to reference some web pages that could be updated as the technology develops; it feels like a section that is going to date very rapidly indeed.
Overall, I felt that this was a derivative not a definitive book; it might work well as an introduction or a refresher but it lacks both depth and originality. It seems churlish, given this book was provided generously, as a gift, to say so but (he whispered at the water-cooler), "Brand You" isn't as good as people have cracked it up to be. By all means read it as a starter for the subject of personal branding - but expect very quickly to graduate on to a greater level of detail than it offers.