Your brand is how you capture and promote all that is best and unique about the professional you. The essential marketing tools that define your brand are your resume(s) and social media profiles.
Your professional reputation is the way other professionals see you, based on what they have read about you and more importantly what personal interaction tells them about you. Together, your brand and reputation should complement each other, but creating a brand and building a professional reputation take time.
Branding is the process of drawing attention to what makes your product special: those attributes that mark you as more desirable than other products on the market. Once you do this, you can formally capture them in your social media profiles and resume. Defining the persona that you want to show to your professional world, and then keeping that message consistent and visible in your social media profiles, resume, and all you say, do, and write (your social media posts and tweets, etc.) to support this messaging is what constitutes a professional brand. So your professional brand is a thoughtful way of shaping how you are seen in your professional world. When you create a professional brand as part of an overall career management strategy, it gives you focus and motivation, and over time offers others an easy way to differentiate you from your competition.
Professional branding creates challenges because whatever you say in social media profiles and resumes will be examined, and if your word is seen to be exaggeration, hyperbole, or outright fabrication, it will destroy the integrity of your brand and all that you are trying to achieve with it. People get around: Large professions become small communities as the years roll by, so you must be respectful of the collective memory of your professional community as you create your brand, in order to protect whatever reputation you have nurtured up to this point in your career and as you move forward.
Once you define the attributes that will appeal to your target employers, the narrative of your social media profiles and your resume needs to strike the right balance: If you under promise, you lose recruiters’ attention. If you over promise, the employer might initially be attracted, but when you are revealed as all thunder and no lightning during your job interviews, the deception will backfire. You have to be able to deliver on the promises made by your brand; it’s a process that takes time and effort, but a powerful and conscientiously maintained brand has networking benefits that can positively impact your career for years to come.