Building a Personal Brand as a COBOL Programmer

Original photo, Edited to add text.

What is a Brand?

We all have the potential to have an individual Brand. It is your personal qualities or characteristics that set you apart from others. It is something you are proud of that adds remarkable, measurable, distinguished, and distinctive value. Maybe you have longevity and/or expertise in a certain field of work. Maybe you are skilled in, and/or are passionate about, a hobby, such as cooking, gardening, or writing. As a specific topic-related example, if you were a COBOL Programmer and had a long career developing an expertise in CICS, as an Online Programmer, or JCL, as a Batch Programmer. That may, in fact, be your Brand. This blog, and the Demystifying COBOL Brand, has evolved from the fact that I have worked with COBOL and associated technologies for almost 30 years.

Define Your Brand

“You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do” is a perceptive quote about Branding, by Henry Ford. Some successful examples of Personal Branding, based on character, are Martha Stewart, Oprah Winfrey, Richard Branson, and Elon Musk. Their Personal Brand is their personality and how they present themselves to the world.

Jacob Cass, in Building a Personal Brand, talks about 3 steps involved in creating a foundation, or online reputation:

      1. Define your Brand.
      2. Create your Website
      3. Utilize your Networks

The first stage, Define your Brand, encompasses four elements: Goals, Audience, Unique Selling Point (USP), and Visual Identity.

Goals and Audience

With reference to my Demystifying COBOL Brand, my main Goal was to discuss COBOL in a non-technical way from the perspective of a long-term COBOL Programmer. Technical references can be found easily online, but this Brand focuses on the less measurable items in COBOL Programming. My Audience was intended to include experienced COBOL Programmers, aspiring COBOL Programmers, or anyone with an interest in Programming.

What Is my Unique Selling Point (USP)?

Image from Canva, Edited in Canva to add text

In terms of my USP, several qualities, when combined, set me apart from others and give me a uniqueness. These characteristics are important factors in my online reputation. One of these abilities is the fact that I am analytical and can work through situations logically. Another trait I have is that I am persistent: when I want to do something, I will try to find a way to make it happen. A third feature that contributes to my USP is that I am a life-long learner. These 3 factors combined provide me with a Unique Selling Point.

What is my Visual Identity?

Of my unique characteristics, continuous learning is the one that makes me stand out the most and contributes to my Visual Identity. It has enabled me to be recognized during my career, as well as personally. I am very proud of the fact that one of my best traits is that I am constantly upgrading my skills and knowledge. As well as conventional learning, such as taking courses, I learn informally from those people and events around me. For example, as part of my day-to-day life, I study the behavior of the people in my organization. I like to reflect on the types of workers, how interactions happen, the impact of the new on the old, women in the workplace, just to name a few. I feel that these types of people-oriented observations have led me to develop my Demystifying COBOL Brand.


Going forward, as the world continues to get smaller and smaller, personal branding will become even more important than it is right now. How unique you are may eventually become your value. Do you agree? Disagree? Why?

Author: Donna Jennings

I have a BA and a BComm, as well as a Diploma in Programming. I have been a COBOL system designer and coder for over 25 years, and I am still trying to demystify the language for myself...I Love the culture of COBOL and how it has provided so many people, including myself, with a lifelong livelihood. The opinions in my posts are completely my own, based on my many years of experience working in a COBOL development environment.

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