In an era where everything is digital and what you post on the internet seems to be eternal, creating a strong personal brand is more important than ever. Your personal brand defines who you are and what you stand for and describes your skills and experiences. Personal branding is a way of showcasing your strengths and personality as well as telling your story. Most people use social media, blog platforms, and websites to market their personal brand. Even with these marvelous tools at our fingertips, creating or tweaking your brand is a daunting task for many people. But there's good reason to do it.

Why is Building a Personal Brand Important? 

If your audience is like 81% of people who research heavily online before making a decision, branding matters. Your audience will be Googling you or the problem you solve before you even know they exist. Jeff Bezos once said, "Your brand is what other people say about you when you're not in the room." Instead of just hoping it's positive, you can be proactive with personal branding. A strong personal brand is crucial to attracting people - professionally and personally - and growing your business. 

Many professionals - especially entrepreneurs - align their personal brand with their company brand which demonstrates consistency and instills trust among customers. Marketing your personal brand is also an effective way of differentiating yourself from your competitors.  Branding online gives you the opportunity to build your reputation. And a strong reputation builds trust among potential and current clients. Building trust makes people more likely to do business with you instead of your competitors and more likely to refer you to people they know. 

Strong Personal Brand Examples

  • Oprah Winfrey - Oprah is by far one of the most recognizable names in the world. Since 1986, Oprah has invested time and energy into building and personifying her personal brand. People trust and respect Oprah almost automatically simply because she's Oprah! This has helped her become a billionaire, but more importantly, it's helped her influence people's lives and advance her mission of making the world a better place. 
  • Neil Patel - This marketing guru has made a career of teaching people how to market online. Neil still operates the daily marketing blog that launched his brand and has founded or co-founded several marketing tools and businesses. His consistency, well-researched content, attention to quality, transparency, and positive, unique personality have made Neil Patel a household name in marketing and branding. 
  • LeBron James - When it comes to authenticity, "King James" takes the crown. While he is well known for being one of, if not the most talented basketball player in history, he captivates his audience just as much off the court. LeBron has used his fame and fortune to create a school in his hometown, support youth organizations and inspire people to strive for greatness. He uses social media to share an authentic take on his life, family, basketball, and philanthropy.  
  • Tony Robbins - Tony Robbins's otherworldly powers of inspiration and persuasion have made him the most successful and well-known motivational speaker for over 40 years. His brand and reputation have helped him create a life-coaching empire, an audio business, and a life-coaching certification business. It's also what leads people to pay as much as $8,000 just to be in the same room as him and absorb his self-help expertise. 

Strong personal branding is not limited to celebrities, influencers, athletes, and motivational speakers. While these people are now being used as best personal branding examples and have access to resources to help them grow their brand, they all started at square one and followed some basic tips - tips that any entrepreneur or professional can also follow.  

8 Personal Branding Tips  

  1. Define Who You Are - This may be the most time-consuming and difficult step for most people because it involves diving deep and exploring your core values, beliefs, passions, and mission, as well as looking at what makes you different and laying out your experiences. Once you've done that you can create your brand statement - a short, cohesive explanation of who you are, what you do, and what sets you apart. Your brand serves as a guide for your brand identity. 
  2. Define Your Target Audience - Who is your audience? Where are they online? What's the demographic? What are their pain points? Asking these questions will help you define your audience(s) and guide your marketing strategy. It will also influence your brand voice.
  3. Clean Up Your Social Accounts - Make sure your existing social media accounts or other online marketing channels are professional and align with your brand identity. Unprofessional images, posts, or comments can be a red flag to your audience and potentially sabotage your brand. And don't assume that your personal social media accounts won't affect your brand. If your personal accounts are drastically different from your professional accounts, people will perceive you as inauthentic - which leads us to the next point. 
  4. Be Authentic - One thing all of the personal branding examples listed above have in common - authenticity. Don't try to be someone or something you're not. Not only is it exhausting, but people will eventually see through it. Capitalize on who you are and what makes you unique and don't stray from that. 
  5. Follow Relevant Influencers - Follow relevant influencers who have a lot of followers, share good content and have a consistent brand. Engage with them by sharing, commenting on and liking their content. This is a good way to get your name out, network with similar people and build credibility. Follow competitors too. This gives you an idea of what they're talking about and may offer bits of inspiration. 
  6. Build Credibility - Word of mouth and reviews are two things most people rely heavily on when making a purchase. For example, before making a purchase on Amazon, most people spend at least some time looking at the reviews. Or when someone is looking for a good realtor or lawyer they ask their friends first. People want to know that other people have had positive experiences with what they're about to spend their hard-earned money on. The same is especially true when branding yourself. Gather testimonials and references from people. LinkedIn has a great feature that allows others to endorse your skills and recommend you right on your profile. Reach out to colleagues, employers, and past customers and ask them to take a moment to endorse and recommend you. And don't forget to return the favor! You can also include testimonials on your blog or website. 
  7. Be Consistent - Consistency is key in branding. Post consistently, use a consistent voice, and use consistent fonts, colors and images. Consistency fosters reliability which fosters trust. 
  8. Create Engaging, Relevant, and Actionable Content - Talk about things that your target audience cares about, that are top of mind. Whether you're talking about global business or data science or fashion find the story and make your content interesting. You are the expert, so give your audience actionable takeaways in your content - tips and tricks for example. Neil Patel, who we talked about earlier in the blog, is a good example of how you can take a sort of mundane topic and make it interesting, engaging, and truly helpful.

If done right, personal branding is one of the best ways to tell your story and advance your career. These eight tips are a good place to start, but if you're looking for something more in-depth, Thunderbird just launched a new executive education program that helps professionals from any industry build their brand and market themselves. 

Market Yourself Like a Hollywood Pro

Thunderbird School of Global Management and ASU Film Spark have partnered to bring executives a new online executive education program - Market Yourself Like a Hollywood Pro. The program is taught by successful Hollywood professionals who know the ins and outs of personal branding. The program includes three developmental boot camps: 

  • Brand yourself like a Hollywood pro
  • Pitch your ideas like a Hollywood pro
  • Build your network like a Hollywood pro

Each camp provides early and mid-level professionals hailing from any industry the opportunity to learn these crucial disciplines that will help them succeed in any business arena. Participants will receive a Certificate for each camp completed and a Master Certificate for completing all three. The camps are also designed to give participants professional networking opportunities - a key component of building a personal brand. 

Related insights