Importance Of Personal Branding

Mar 11, 2021

Elizabeth Houghton

Sutton Full Potential Founder

What is Personal branding?

Personal branding refers to the creation of a recognisable name and reputation for self or for the company and how you market them. The term was used in an article written in 1997 by Tom Peters. It’s the art of self-packaging that is successful in creating a positive image or impression regarding a group, company, individual or an organisation. While Jeff Bezos is believed to have said “your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room,” McNally and Speak describe personal branding as “a perception or emotion, maintained by somebody other than you, that describes the total experience of having a relationship with you.”

You create your own personal brand

While traditionally branding has been associated with businesses, in the current context every individual owns a personal brand. Social media is one of the most popular and engaging platforms that has been used by many to build their own personal brand. A case in point is how Tila Tequila used Myspace to gain 1.5 million followers with expert self-packaging. Whether you own a brand or not, creating your personal brand helps you get better connections, improves your job prospects, assists with industry or professional recognition and much more.

When you create your own personal branding, you can gain control of what is projected about yourself and how it is remembered. Although this requires some effort, the results are worth the time. The alternative is to hire professionals to create personal branding for you.

Personal branding is not about self-promotion, it is about self-differentiation

Tom Peters who coined the term “personal branding’ goes on to say that “regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.”

While it is important to build a personal brand, it is also necessary to note that it is not about self-promotion but rather about differentiating yourself from the rest. Personal branding goes beyond just listing your accomplishments or flaunting your skills. It is a collection of ethics, values, beliefs, and ideals that define you consistently and differentiates your unique value proposition.

While personal branding enables an individual to be consistent, focused and intentional in his or her approach or interactions, self-promotion is at the extreme end of self-propaganda, trying to hog the limelight and exaggerating or bragging at others’ expense.

Why is Personal branding important?

It promotes career growth: California Polytechnic State University conducted a study which found that personal branding helped employers differentiate between potential candidates and make a hiring decision.

Better self-awareness: Creating personal branding helps you be more aware of who you are, what you stand for and what you opt to share with others.

Helps think strategically: When you are aware of your own strengths, you can create a personal brand that resonates with unique and specific qualities and attributes that differentiate you and give you a strategic edge.

Helps personalise the image: In the digital and automated world of today, people seek personalised experiences and trust people more than a faceless corporation. Personal branding helps connect better with clients, employees, partners and others and fosters business as well as individual relationships.

Defining yourself: Personal branding is all about revealing who you really are, what values you believe in and stand for, to the world. It is an honest statement of self-expression that stems from determining what sets you apart from others and what values others can expect from you.

Perception is reality

When you create your personal brand, you need to ensure the perceived brand is equal to your personal brand. Perception deals with how others see the brand as opposed to your definition and when both match, the outcomes are optimal. Ensure the perception is equal to reality by obtaining feedback, information, and clarification. Asking probing questions that elicit clear answers will help understand the perceived reality. Listening skills are equally important to understand what others really think of you or your brand.

Be Authentic, be real, be genuine

Personal branding that is authentic and strong can result in an optimal return on investment whether you are an individual or a business leader. Some successful people who used personal branding to their advantage include Dave Carroll, Michael Port, Mike Michalowicz and John Bates. Personal branding is about being uniquely you, and does not require the creation of artificial personas or images to impress others. The branding begins with establishing clear and genuine behaviours and values that reflect you.

Benefits of separating your personal and professional social media accounts

It is important to separate personal and professional lives on social media. Having different accounts help safeguard reputation on the professional platform such as LinkedIn, while maintaining a lively and unreserved identity on other platforms such as Facebook or Twitter.

Custom strategies employed by public figures and celebrities ensure they are not representing their brand or company on social media when they set up different accounts.  Having distinct professional and personal accounts is a critical strategy as many HR professionals or hiring managers resort to social media to recruit or to screen potential candidates.

Personal branding strategies

Perceived, core and created personal branding: Personal branding has three components. The first deals with the core of who you are, the strengths and values that define you. The second is the branding how you are perceived by others and the third deals with how you create your personal branding or how you project your value proposition to others. Ryan Rhoten advocates using a four-step strategy to build personal branding called the “DICE” that stands for Discover, Integrate, Create content and Engage.

The first step is the discovery of who you really are in terms of values, strengths and uniqueness and defining them. Finding your own strengths is the critical first step.

Integration deals with equating your personal branding with the perception of your brand. If your definition of your values and strengths are in conflict with what you actually do or say, there is a lack of clarity leading to the perceived brand being different from the real brand. Integration is all about maintaining consistency in core beliefs, actions and behaviours.

Content creation is using different social and online platforms to disseminate your knowledge or niche expertise while engaging deals with having conversations on social media. Ultimately for the success of personal branding, you would need to be true and consistent with the real values of the brand and not the perceived ones.

YOU the Brand = What I DO? Who do I do it FOR ? How am I UNIQUE? WHERE do I do it?

When done in the right way, personal branding leads you on to a path of glory and success. Every post or tweet uploaded or shared contributes significantly to building your personal brand. While the cumulative daily actions and conversations you have on social media amount to personal branding, it is a top career strategy that can help drive business growth and open new windows of opportunity. It builds reputation, trust and credibility and draws key clients, recruiters, employers or others towards you as the leading expert in a chosen area.

When creating your personal branding, it is important to review your own personality, values, interests and passions, strengths, experience and education, goals and inspirations. It is also important to know whom you are doing this for, what your unique differentiators are and which platform you will choose to build your personal brand


WHAT you do matters

HOW you do it is important

WHY you do it is critical   

Photos thanks to:

Photo by Vadim Sherbakov on Unsplash

Photo by Tim Arterbury on Unsplash

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