Kasey Short

Authentic Personal Branding for Values-Driven Leaders

Center for Values-Driven Leadership Change, Leadership

Editor’s Note: Dr. Kasey Short spoke to an audience of African American business leaders at the February 2018 gathering of several employee resource groups from Chicagoland companies, at a celebration of Black History Month. What follows is an abbreviated transcript of her speech.

African American Leadership | Black History Month

Are you in need of a personal brand makeover? Your personal brand is essentially your reputation and the attributes that people associate with you and is how you are perceived. At this stage of your career, do you feel a bit stuck?

One simple formula that I follow when faced with issues of personal branding, or rebranding for that matter, is looking to nature to help simplify the process. I call it the Clover Branding Approach.

At first glance, some would assume that a traditional 4-leaf clover was comprised of 4 lucky, yet distinctively individual leaves that independently grow from a single stalk. However, a professional botanist would correct that misconception by clarifying that a clover is a single leaf that separates into four leaflet parts. Symbolically speaking, the lucky four-leaf clover can serve as an analogy relatable to building your personal brand, because like the clover, these multiple leaflets are components of a single source (you), that will ultimately create your individual brand. Keeping with this analogy, the leaflets can be identified as four steps to branding a new you.

#1: The first leaflet focuses on establishing your Vision.

Be intentional in setting your goals for what you want your personal brand to be. Be specific on what your brand will represent and how you want to be perceived. Do not get distracted by your current state or current perceptions, because this is your opportunity to define your own goals. Own your vision and do not hold back. This is your “be bold” moment. Be specific for how want to be perceived.  Set a timeline for implementation. Make sure that your Vision will be distinctive and will set you apart.

#2: The next leaflet should focus on your Authenticity.

In its most fundamental of definitions, authenticity is generally defined as not false or imitation: real, actual. Developing your brand rooted in authenticity will ensure that:

  • Your brand is rooted in truth.
  • Your brand is rooted realness.
  • Your brand is rooted in honesty
  • Your brand will be impactful
  • Your brand will have integrity

Authenticity is your internal truth. There is nothing superficial about it. It’s deeply rooted as your foundation. Without it, you will flounder like a fad. The authenticity in your brand will ground and anchor you.The authenticity is your internal compass that points to your personal truths.

#3: Your third leaflet should embody your Courage.

You will inevitably face some challenges throughout your branding journey. The ability to stand strong in the face of those challenges is critical. Some will not immediately gravitate to the “refreshed you,” and your courage will help you stay focused on your end goal rather than allow distractions to impede on your progress along the way.

In fact, the challenges may not be external at all and could manifest within yourself. So, your courage to step-out and do whatever  is necessary to reach your branding goals is crucial. Do you need to go back to school, or become acquainted with a new peer or mentor group? Regardless to the challenge, it will take a significant amount of courage from within yourself to see it though.

#4: The fourth leaf must be rooted in Love.

You must love the vision that you have set for yourself. You must love of the authenticity of the rebranded. You must love the new found courage and resilience that will motivate you through. Embrace and fall in love with the rebranded you. This love is what will sustain you as your rebranding manifests.

The Clover Approach to branding a new you is simple. First, your vision will define your brand. Next, authenticity will ensure your building from a strong solid root system. Courage will energize you and won’t let you quit. And lastly, the love of the new branded you will continuously motivate and feed your soul. You are such a lucky clover. Now go flourish.


Kasey Short, Ph.D., is a graduate of Benedictine University’s doctoral program in values-driven leadership. She is an assistant professor of management at Ferris State University in Michigan. Prior to teaching, Dr. Short worked in brand development and innovation for McDonald’s Corporation.

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