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Richard and Maurice McDonald had a simple story. They wanted to be known as not just a hamburger stand, but one with a distinct image capturing a different burger joint that would become a franchising giant. When Ray Kroc partnered with and eventually purchased McDonald’s in 1955, he had every opportunity to completely change the “McDonald’s” brand. However, maintaining the established image allowed the brand to flourish and become the empire it is today.

Think of any brand, especially good ones, and phrases like credible, valuable, unique, different and distinct come to mind. It starts with a story of adversity, obstacles, and disappointments. The story explains the true character and the face of the brand more than just the “logo” itself. It usually starts out with a solitary passion. Whether it’s the McDonald’s brand or the local tire shop celebrating its 50th anniversary, every brand starts with a story. If we spend enough time evaluating, we realize the immense amount of work, commitment and dedication this passion needed to grow. And if we really give it the true attention it deserves, we’ll learn it takes even more to maintain this distinct image.

The same holds true when building your own personal brand. Does your résumé tell a story? Is it an exciting one that speaks of obstacles and successes? Is it low-key, but loyal? If your résumé doesn’t offer these events without narration, what types of things can be accomplished to achieve this story? The McDonald brothers never considered building their own personal brands. Instead, they were always focused on the final image being created using grit, experience and concise/repetitive operational behavior. Think of yourself as a McDonald’s – a successful empire focused on the customer’s experience not varying from credibility, value and distinct image. Traditionally, we focus on a “brand” being directly related to a company. If we consider ourselves as a business, our names as the business’s names and our stories as the startup “brand,” then our discussions become a bit more serious, concise and personal.

We have some nice advantages in 2018 that were not available 80 years ago. Technology propels your brand at a much faster rate than Ray Kroc or the McDonald brothers could ever imagine. Let’s focus on some of the technologies available to help build a personal brand. Social media, websites, ePortfolios and available industry technologies will add varying contributions to your overall value. To improve your personal brand and image, focus on networking capabilities. Allowing your network to act as your franchise (otherwise known as your social web), your name and image will grow substantially.

Your network must no longer stay locally connected. In the last two decades, we have the opportunity to utilize social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and others to connect with industry peers and future employers. If you’re logged onto one of these platforms or all of these platforms, that’s great, keep up the good work. Using these social media platforms will build your credibility and value. If you haven’t jumped into the social revolution, consider it heavily. It’s not a fad. It’s becoming our way communicating with not only messages, but also with important news updates.

Websites, ePortfolios and Prezi can be other tremendous tools assisting you in building your personal brand. You work hard at what you do. Allowing others to see this will create a distinct “brand” image. Add your paper résumé to the cloud or embed it on a personal website you can attach to your email signature. This can immediately amplify your differentiation from others in your market bringing value to anyone you do business with. If you start a business, launching a website is a necessity. Likewise, make it a necessity while improving your personal brand. Add things like articles published, videos captured, YouTube channels that peers can subscribe to, but most of all get creative. Publish material to a personal website you wouldn’t normally be able to add to a résumé.

It’s vitally important to stay current with industry trends and use industry technologies, even if branding yourself as a “techie” isn’t your end goal. Educating yourself with available resources can ultimately bring you closer to your end goal of being awarded more contacts, a larger network or better exposure to the whole industry. These trends and technologies offer better insight on analytics and different methods to manage your property. In the end, these additions will add to your credibility.

Had technologies like social media been available in 1940, Richard and Maurice McDonald could have expedited their branding and business development. However, their story would have been vastly different. A key point is their processes. From their failures they learned what they were truly good at and applied it to build their end goal. After the purchase of McDonald’s, Ray Kroc used available technologies to improve the brand, but focused on the final image. Even though we have many tools available today, they might not all apply to you and your benefit. Figure out what speaks to your goal and make it your best image in any facet applied.


Even though every platform is beneficial, Twitter is the most used in our industry. Posting at least once a week to start will add to your branding.

Start an ePortfolio today and keep it up-to-date so you’re always ready to submit when the next opportunity becomes available.

Digital data platforms, drones and moisture sensing are all changing the management landscape in our industry.

Jason VanBuskirk has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Rhode Island and was a golf course superintendent from January 2008 until December 2015. In January 2016, he and business partner Steve Ohlson launched Turf Cloud, which assists and educates turf/small business professionals on everything related to turf and technology. Contact him at, 774/244-2630, or on Twitter @turfcloud or @uriturf.