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What's the Difference between a Niche and a Personal Brand?

Often the terms “personal brand” and “niche” are used interchangeably. But, are they really the same?

What are the search results when someone Googles your name or company name? Are those results about your personal brand or your niche, or both?

A niche is not the same as a personal brand

Tom Peters originally wrote an article about “The Brand Called You” in August 1997 and coined the phrase “CEO of Me, Inc.” Subsequently, William Arruda of Reach Personal Branding defined personal branding as “a unique promise of value.” His definition encompasses “identifying and communicating what makes you unique, relevant, and compelling so that you can advance your career or business.”

Niche, however, is “a place, employment status, or activity for which a person or thing is best fitted; a specialized market” as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary. Thus, your personal brand is the intersection of who you are (the authentic you), the value you deliver to your target market (niche), and the differentiation between you and your competitors who may be serving the same niche.

You can own more than one niche simultaneously

According to Wikipedia, targeting your “niche market” is “the process of finding and serving profitable market segments. . . .” You may decide to start with one niche market, perhaps an outgrowth of one of your passions or subject-matter-expert knowledge. But you can certainly expand that niche to serve other market segments. As you move through new life experiences, other niches may arise.

You can own more than one personal brand simultaneously

Your personal brand is grounded in the authentic you. Your top brand attributes and strengths are apparent to others through your communications, behavior, and activities. The more transparent and authentic those interpersonal interactions, the stronger your personal brand. Trying to project a different persona than what you really are is extremely difficult to consistently and convincingly attain.

The best way to determine your personal brand is to choose it

Your brand is experienced and defined by others. Perception is reality. However, your personal brand can be aspirational as well. You can strengthen select attributes and characteristics to reinforce your preferred brand theme. Simply increase the conscious transparency and visibility of your attributes of choice.

Your niche and your personal brand are essential to your career / business identity

You may want to increase your visibility online and/or offline for your job search or business or social cause or event. Identifying your niche will allow you to educate, inform, persuade/influence, entertain, and/or build relationships with the right target market.

Clarifying your personal brand will allow you to express the value you can bring to that market (niche) based on who you are and how you are different from your competitors.

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