Personal Branding: Where to Start?

In an increasingly more virtual and less hierarchical workplace, personal branding is no longer just “nice to have” but a must. There is no one-fits-all approach to personal branding. There are many strategies that “help leverage personality, preferences, and abilities”. What they all have in common is applying the principles and strategies from commercial brands to self-branding. Despite increasing awareness of the importance of personal branding in career building, it is still a professional challenge. Part of the problem comes from the fact that the concept of personal branding is still misunderstood and, consequently, poorly leveraged.

Catherine Kaputa, a personal branding specialist, argues that personal branding should start from identifying your key differentiator and unique value in a business setting. She stresses that brand positioning should be focused: if you try to appeal to everyone, you will interest no one. You should be able to fill in the blank: Unlike others who do what I do, I ______. Your brand idea should be relevant in the current marketplace. Once you have identified your brand idea, focus on building visibility for your brand among your target audience.

Although PR firms have a portfolio of successful brand building, outsourcing the process of personal branding is a mistake, claims Anastasia Chernikova, Editor-in-Chief of The Vivid Minds. Media are on a constant lookout for fresh angles, ‘hot takes’ and expert knowledge. Use this trend to your advantage: write down a list of topics that you are knowledgeable about. Then share your unique perspective or a controversial opinion which could spark discussion in media. Your text does not need to be perfect: you can hire an editor or a copywriter to get the final version presentable. Your content should be infused with your personality so that it strengthens your personal brand.

Business success depends on the strength of one’s personal brand. That brand strength could be achieved by creating short-form content such as social media posts or videos. Such content helps connect with one’s audience and show one’s expertise and personality to one’s target audience. This strategy was taken by Srikar Karra, Co-founder of BuiltGen, a provider of brand building services. His experience has shown that short-form content is effective for personal branding because it allows sharing pieces of valuable information on a regular basis. Not only does it help position you as an industry expert, but also helps connect with your target audience and build trust and credibility that you could monetize. 

The aim of your personal brand should never be to please everyone. This approach is simply a waste of your resources and energy, thinks Scott Baradell, CEO of Idea Grove, a provider of public relations and communications services. Instead, you should focus your efforts on defining your niche and appealing to your target audience. Individual people or businesses are more likely to contact someone who specializes in solving a particular problem rather than someone who does a bit of everything. Of course, building broader skills is appreciated, but if you focus on a specific niche, you are more likely to take command of it. 

Personal branding is especially important to entrepreneurs. They need to factor in possibilities and dangers equally to build a distinct brand and ensure its competitiveness and long-term growth, observes Jon Michail, CEO and Founder of Image Group International, an image advisory and coaching firm. In his opinion, entrepreneurs need to recognize “the value of brand creation right away”. Developing branding skills should become an integral part of their content strategy. As their business grows, they need to evaluate things in light of their values. If their objectives are incompatible, they need to make necessary changes.

References: Rodger Dean Duncan, | Anastasia Chernikova, | Srikar Karra, | Scott Baradell, | Jon Michail,