Personal Branding Using The Brand Deck… An Introspective Activity


Some time ago, I noticed an article posted about a Kickstarter project from the co-creator of Cards Against Humanity, and I was compelled to check it out. The idea is cool:

“Brand Deck is a collaborative exercise that will help you identify your brand’s characteristics.”

At first, I just thought it would be a fun activity to do with my marketing class. But, the moment I opened up my Brand Deck it was obvious that this could be one of the best personal branding tools yet.

Over the last few days, I’ve tried out the activity myself.  And, I’ll be recommending it during my upcoming presentation at ASQ’s Annual Service Conference.  It’s a great tool, and it’s a fun activity…

Step 1

I setup the four columns:

  • You Are
  • You Are Not
  • You Are Torn
  • Does Not Apply

Step 2

Each card has two sides.  The instructions say “for each card in the deck, pick the word that you have the strongest reaction to and put it face up in the pile where it belongs. Go with your gut.”

This was actually a really introspective process.  Are you disciplined or relaxed? Steady or dynamic? It took some time to get through the whole deck.  And, I leveled up and decided to leave it out for a day or two and revisit to see if I felt the same way. There were one or two cards that I shuffled around after giving it some time.

Step 3

I followed the deck’s instructions, which were “once you’ve sorted all of your words into their appropriate piles, discard the Does Not Apply pile, and narrow down to one to six words for You Are, You Are Not, and You Are Torn.”

This was not easy. I decided to get some outside perspective. I narrowed down each column to about a 10-11 each.  And, I reached out to my spouse, friends, co-workers and parents for their pick of the six that best described me. I even looked up a few of the words to make sure I was really grasping the meaning correctly.  It really makes you think!

I usually recommend people do some “market research” during the personal branding process. It’s certainly interesting to see the subtle differences in how you’re perceived. 

Step 4

After narrowing it down to six in each column, I took another look at You Are Torn and decided none of the words were ever going to make the top six for the other columns. I removed that column and left myself with a snapshot of who I am and who I am not.

In this process, it’s possible to identify opportunities and recognize things that could be a weakness.  While the process is fresh, why not follow-up with a personal SWOT analysis? You could actually use the cards to complete the SW part.

Side Note: If you like Facebook quizzes, you won’t be able to resist this.



I haven’t tried out the NSFW deck yet. But, with instructions that say “figure it out,” I’m game.

All of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.” – Tom Peters, Fast Company

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