What is Personal Branding?

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Personal branding is the fastest way to authority in any field. If you have a message to influence the world, a powerful personal brand is the way to do so better and faster.

Some people think the personal brand is a new phenomenon. They argue it’s a result of our hyper-connected times.

They’re wrong.

The personal brand is as old as time. Your personal brand is your reputation, your legacy, and what people say about you when you’re not in the room.

There are a lot of ideas around what personal branding is and is not.

Here’s how I define it.

Personal branding is a communication strategy.

Before someone will listen to you, they have to believe you won’t waste their time. Personal branding is about being intentional about how you are perceived. When you invest the time and energy to build a personal brand, you build consistency.

Through your personal brand, an audience comes to know what to expect from you. Over time they trust you know what you’re talking about.

Personal branding is a strategic framework.

A personal brand can be uniquely you, but by no means can it be the whole you. We are all complex human beings. The purpose of your personal brand is to support and strengthen your body of work. The personal brand serves the purpose you want to pursue, the message you want to share, and the dream you want to achieve.

Personal brands are strategic frameworks that make it easier to organize your communication. They ensure you’re always communicating on purpose.

Putting yourself out there is so much easier when you have a personal brand. You’ll know what serves your purpose and what to share publicly. Save the rest for your best friends after a bottle of Shiraz.

Or with the diary hidden under your bed.

Personal branding is a filter for focus.

We are bombarded with messages all day every day. If you want me to listen, make it easy on me. Don’t make me get to know you all over again with every Tweet or Instagram post. A well-crafted personal brand is a filter. Pass every message through it to ensure you’re communicating consistently.

Besides consistency, a personal brand drives focus. You may want to change the world, the whole world, and do it TODAY. But we have to choose our battles. People are more likely to act on a focused message. So pick one and stick with it.

Or pick three, or seven. Doesn’t matter. So long as you repeat those same messages over and over.

Whether you are aligning peers to a new corporate strategy, motivating a volunteer workforce, or entertaining your friends and neighbors like I was with Blacklisted from the PTA you need your audience to take action.

Personal branding is NOT an ego play.

If you believe that building a personal brand is one long, self-indulgent navel gaze, you’re wrong. Building a personal brand is about sharing only what aligns with your chosen life’s work.

You’re not doing this for yourself.

(If you are, back away slowly… this work is way too hard to sustain with personal motive.)

Your work serves the world, and so does your personal brand.

Life’s work, really?


This is your life, so if you’re working at something it really is your life’s work. Especially if you’re at the point of developing your personal brand!

Even if you’re just starting out in your career, or playing around with a side hustle, or dabbling with a novel—there are elements of and clues to your life’s work in everything you do.

All we can do is carve out our little piece of work that is ours to do today. And then do it again the next day. And the next. Over and over again. Crafting a personal brand on purpose builds a map of the territory of our life’s work.

A personal brand is not a product brand.

Humans are complex. See above. People are not products. And personal brands are not product brands.

Product brands are built from the outside in, to exploit some human need for many people.

Personal brands are built from the inside out, to express an individual’s need to contribute.

Personal branding is not a logo and fonts.

Yes, visuals matter. And it’s fun to play with all the pretty visual toys. But you’re never going to build a strong personal brand until you do the inner work. You need to build a foundation for the message you want to share and the work you want to accomplish in the world.

Logo and fonts will come in time.

I promise.

Personal brands are not fixed.

Like people, personal brands are ever-evolving.

Frustrating, right?

About ten minutes after you tweak every last line of copy on your sexy new website, you can count on a shift in your focus.

I know from experience.

But it's okay because a successful personal brand is built around the core pieces of YOU. These are the pieces your personal brand will use again and again. That’s why it’s critical that you take a long term approach.

This doesn’t mean your personal brand needs to be reinvented every time you shift your focus. The opposite is true. A well-grounded brand grows with you. The core of you grows, but doesn’t change.

Look at Madonna. Her image has evolved countless times over the past four decades. But at her core she’s maintained a consistent brand. Madonna is about provocation, expression, and ambition.

Over and over.


Ready to build your personal brand? I can help.