Personal Branding and the New Portuguese Discoveries


Personal Branding Across Cultures Blogathon – Day 13 / Nelson Emilio


The Age of Discovery

personal branding portugalBetween 1415 and 1578 Portuguese were well-known by systematically exploring the Atlantic Ocean and the African coast. This lead to the discover of several Atlantic archipelagos, the eastern route to India that rounded the Cape of Good Hope and the discover of Brazil. Portuguese also explored the Indian Ocean and established trading routes throughout most of southern Asia, and our discoveries were responsible for important advances in technology, nautical sciences, cartography, astronomy and ship building.

During this age of discovery several Portuguese like Infante Henry, better known as Henry the Navigator, Bartholomew Diaz, Ferdinand Magellan, Pedro Álvares Cabral and Vasco da Gama built their personal brands and left their mark in the history of Portugal and the World.

But why I’m telling you something that happened centuries ago? Well, because Portuguese are among the most talented people in the world, but for a long time we forgot about maintaining our personal brand and keep showing our unique value besides the hot sun, fresh Atlantic winds, wild beaches, great food and traditions we have in Portugal.

Today’s Reality

Today we live in a society that evaluates professionals not only in light of the results achieved by them, but also the image they project both externally to customers and partners and internally among colleagues.

Today, due to the economic crisis we are facing in Portugal and the accelerated trend to diversify, globalize, connect and compete, we see that a university degree or expertise are only one part of success, we need to find new ways of showing our professional skills, our potential and values. This need led to an exponential growth of Personal Branding services in Portugal in the past years. It is now seen as one of the most powerful tools to drive the career and impact the organization.

Unfortunately the concept grew around a lot of misconceptions. Some understand it as self-marketing or image management, others as commercial strategy or that is only for celebrities. These misconceptions are mainly due to well know factors:

  • The association of the concept to world-famous personal brands like Cristiano Rolando, one of world’s top soccer players, José Mourinho, one of world’s best coaches and several Fado (the most widely recognized music of Portugal) and Pop singers;
  • Image consultants that mix the concepts of Image Management and Personal Branding by focusing in the visual representation or packaging of each individual and forget the real YOU;
  • Professionals with the main focus on marketing and social media and it’s usage to promote and “sell” a “person product” without considering the entire Personal Branding process;
  • People who are passionate about Personal Branding that don’t really know what Personal Branding actually is, and use all communication channels for bragging instead of positioning themselves as an expert in a chosen profession or market.

From my point of view all the confusion around Personal Branding happens because almost everyone forgot the main element of Personal Branding, the PERSON.

Of course it is important to promote our personal brand through different channels, but we cannot forget that Personal Branding is not about creating something new, a new ME, it’s the opposite, is uncovering the best of each individual, what already exists and makes us authentic and unique, and only than express that authenticity and uniqueness using the online and offline tools available today. Clarifying personal branding concepts, process and expectations is key for a better understanding on how it can help professionals capitalizing on their “unique promise of value” and contribute to their job, team or corporation.

In Portugal this is clearly understood by many professionals that work or worked in a multinational corporate environment. Either by senior level executives who entered in personal branding processes sponsored by their companies, or by other professionals that went through this process in a career transition situation.

The New Age

The economic crisis turns up to be a wake-up call for many professionals in all sectors who are now more concerned about their careers. They are looking for professional services in Personal Branding area to help them be more successful, and by that avoiding to be a number in the unemployment population which is already over 17.8% and increasing. Personal Branding services are also sought by unemployed people and young college graduates who already grasp the need to better understand their value and how they can differentiate themselves from everyone else in order to get a job.

I see Personal Branding in Portugal now becoming a top of mind awareness for some professionals in consultancy, sales and at senior level in most organizations. It is also a new concept and a new discovery for most Portuguese who are not used to exploring their unique value and promoting themselves.

For them it might be a new age, the Age of Personal Discovery which certainly will uncover again the very best we have in Portugal.

About the author

Nelson Emilio Nelson Emilio is an Executive Coach and Personal Branding Strategist for successful senior and executive professionals in the IT industry avid for a change in their careers to achieve personal and professional goals. Combining proven discovery methods, sales and management experience along with and extensive formal training, Nelson guides his clients uncover their personal brand and express what makes them uniquely valuable and distinct beyond their success.