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Personal branding is the process whereby people and their careers are marked as brands. While previous self-help management techniques were about self-improvement, the personal branding concept suggests instead that success comes from self-packaging. The process is further defined as the creation of an asset that pertains to a particular person or individual; this includes but is not limited to the body, clothing, physical appearance and areas of knowledge, leading to a uniquely distinguishable, and ideally memorable, impression. The term is thought to have been first used and discussed in a 1997 article by Tom Peters.
Personal branding often involves the application of one's name to various products. For example, the celebrity real-estate mogul Donald Trump uses his last name extensively on his buildings and on the products he endorses (e.g. Trump Steaks).
Personal branding, self-positioning and all individual branding by whatever name, was first introduced in 1937 in the book Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. The idea surfaced later in the 1981 book Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, by Al Ries and Jack Trout. More specifically in "Chapter 23. Positioning Yourself and Your Career - You can benefit by using positioning strategy to advance your own career. Key principle: Don’t try to do everything yourself. Find a horse to ride".
It was later popularised by Tom Peters.