What is Personal Branding and Why Do You Need It?


Tesla, for example, is a master of branding. The electric car company positions its products as both environmentally-friendly and luxurious – the perfect purchase for those who want to stop global warming while feeling stylish. Tesla’s incredibly fancy cars have all the features that make their owners want to show them off: autopilot mode, a top speed of 200 mph, 17” cinematic screens, and the ability to summon your car remotely. 

Apple is another company that’s great at branding. For years, Apple has focused on making its products sleeker and more futuristic. From the minimalist AirPods to the ultra-thin Macbook Air, Apple matches quality with design. Their technology remains ultra-powerful without being too clunky or cumbersome. Gone are the days of oversized computers and processors – Apple’s products are lightweight but powerful. There’s a reason customers will line up for miles outside of an Apple store just to get their hands on the latest release. 

But branding is for more than just companies – you can use it in your everyday life. This is where personal branding comes in. Personal branding is how you promote yourself. What sorts of qualities do people associate with you? 

Let’s take another obvious example: Elon Musk. The man is about as famous as the companies he runs – something that you can’t say for most CEOs. He’s well-known for many of his accomplishments related to his work, including the fact that he taught himself rocket science, runs two separate companies, and claims to work up to 120 hours a week. On top of that, he’s quite the jokester on Twitter which makes him far more relatable than any other corporate entity. People often call Musk a genius (and deservedly so) and refer to him as the real-life Iron Man. 

Photo credit: Rhonda Swan of the Unstoppable Branding Agency by Ryerson Anselmo

Musk’s personal branding has helped position him as a larger-than-life figure. After all, how many other CEOs can say they’ve achieved quite the same cult of personality? Sure, many things he does are likely for publicity ranging from launching a car into space to naming his son X Æ A-Xii. But such publicity is ultimately good for Musk and his personal brand. The internet seemingly can’t get enough of their favorite billionaire tech CEO. 

The effects of his personal branding come full circle as it also raises awareness of Tesla as a company. Tesla isn’t just a car company – it’s an Elon Musk company. Every new feature or design revealed by Tesla is just more evidence of his brilliance and forward-thinking innovation. Since Musk is a one-of-a-kind person, it stands to reason that Tesla’s inventions are equally unique.

But what can personal branding do for you? 

In the same way that Musk stands out from his contemporaries, personal branding can help you distinguish yourself from everyone else. After all, your brand is a unique identifier that describes you and only you. 

The word ‘brand’ comes from an old English word that means ‘to mark with a hot iron’. In the same way, personal branding is the act of leaving an impression in someone’s mind after interacting with them. Your brand is what they’ll take away from your interaction – their thoughts, feelings, interests, and reactions. 

Personal branding is even more critical in an internet-focused age where everyone is socially distancing. In the old days, your brand was little more than a business card. However, things have changed quite dramatically. Now people you’ve never met can find out who you are based on a few clicks. As an online influencer or entrepreneur, you have an audience that can range from the hundreds to the millions. 

People have the entire world at their fingertips, so you must find a way to stand out from the rest of everyone else. Perhaps you’re an artist, writer, designer, programmer, photographer, video maker, or something else. The chances are that there are hundreds, if not thousands or millions of others who are doing the same thing as you. What separates you from the rest? Why should a client choose your services and specialties over anyone else? These are the questions that personal branding should answer.

Think of your personal brand as a way to form relationships with your customers and clients. Your brand represents yourself — it symbolizes everything you stand for and your mission to help out the world. It’s the message that you want everyone else to read. It’s the reason why your brand will attract people to you and your services. 

Through the power of personal branding, people will discover, respect, refer, and hire you. If you want to establish a name for yourself in the increasingly crowded online marketplace, nailing personal branding is the only place to start.  

Want to learn more about branding? Check out our Personal Branding Strategy Playbook for tips and tricks. 

Article by Patrick W. Dunne

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