How to create a personal brand (with examples)

How to create a personal brand (with examples)
SEEK content teamupdated on 08 February, 2024

In the last decade, the concept of “brand” has evolved beyond the world of big business. Increasingly, it applies to public image and reputation, not just for companies but for individual people, too. 

Building a personal brand means creating an image for yourself, both in person and online. It’s important to note that your personal brand is not who you are in your private life. Your brand is what people say and think about you. It’s the surface image you project and the impression you make on the people in your networks

As you start applying for jobs, you might want to be more intentional with your image, and put effort into building a personal brand that will help you get ahead in your professional life. In this article we cover the meaning of personal brand, what things affect your personal brand, and how to build a personal brand. 

What is a personal brand?

In simple terms, a personal brand is how people see you, and is a result of how you project yourself to the world. You can think of it as similar to a corporate or company brand: it’s your image and how you’re perceived. 

Both corporate branding and personal branding are about establishing an identity. Companies do this through consistent use of their logo, visual style and tone of voice. For an individual person, it’s about the way you speak, dress and act in professional settings, and the image you project online. 

What makes up a personal brand?

To understand personal or self-branding, it’s important to look at the key components that make up a personal brand. 

  • Visual identity: how you dress and style yourself. People with a strong visual identity tend to have a signature look, whether that’s a hairstyle, accessories or a distinct overall look. 
  • Voice/communication style: the way you communicate. Are you funny? Serious? Sarcastic? Do you have a conversational tone when you speak or are you more intellectual? Your personal brand strategy should build on the way you naturally communicate with people. 
  • Online and offline presence: building a personal brand means paying attention to your digital presence, curating your posts on social media and potentially creating blogs or websites. If you’re building a professional brand, you can work on your in-person image through networking and events

Benefits of building a personal branding strategy

If you’re interested in professional networking, it pays to put thought into building a personal brand. Here are some advantages of having a strong personal brand strategy:

  • Increased visibility and recognition: a strong brand can make other people in your industry more aware of who you are and what you have to offer.
  • Higher perceived value: in the business world, brand awareness often translates to better revenue – the same applies to having a strong personal brand.
  • More respect: positioning yourself as an industry “mover and shaker” makes you seem authoritative and competent. 
  • More opportunities: if your personal brand projects trustworthiness and enthusiasm, more people will want to work with you.

How to create a personal brand in 5 steps

One of the best things you can do to take control of your career is establish a personal brand that aligns with your career path. Once you have an idea of the industry or role you wish you break into, follow these steps on how to build a personal brand that will help get you there. 

1. Laying the foundation

Before you set out building a personal brand, take some time to lay the foundations. Start with a thorough self-assessment: look at your qualifications and abilities and identify anything unique that you bring to the table. What are your best attributes that potential employers should know about?

Also consider the target audience in your self-branding strategy. Who are you trying to impress or attract? Your audience might be a specific person or a group of industry professionals. Once you identify your audience, you have a better idea of the skills and attributes that will grab their attention. 

2. Crafting your image

Part of your personal brand is visual style. You don’t need to go as far as having a signature look, but it can help your brand to have a consistent wardrobe and ‘look’, so people can recognise you easily. Part of successful branding is consistency, so consider always presenting yourself in a similar style, whether that’s with your hair, your accessories or your general aesthetic. It will help people recognise you and in turn make you seem more reliable and trustworthy. Most of the time, dressing in a polished and well-put-together way is enough to build a reputable personal brand.

3. Communicating your brand

Communicating your personal brand can be as routine as posting on social media or as high-profile as hosting industry events. Some of your main communication channels as a person just starting their career are: digital platforms like social media, in-person events, industry workshops, networking functions and graduate events. 

If you want to create content to help market your brand, think about writing your own blog, producing a vlog, creating events and/or building a resumé website. When using social media, make posts regularly (but not too frequently), and be consistent in tone, theme and visual style. If you’re serious about growing your follower base, consider paid ads to boost reach. Be clear about your skills and what you offer. 

4. Digital footprint

Any personal brand strategy can benefit from a wide digital footprint. No matter what industry you’re in, a prominent online presence helps you reach a wider audience. 

As well as, or instead of, social profiles, consider using a dedicated resumé or portfolio website to bolster your online identity. Whether you create one yourself or enlist a freelancer, remember to be consistent in visual style and tone, ensure it’s easy to read and navigate, and include information relevant to your career goals. Think about including SEO to help your site rank well in search results.

5. Expansion and adaptation

As you get further into your career, you may find yourself growing out of your original personal brand. Or you might want to take your professional brand further and expand your audience. 

In either case, remember to align your new direction with your career goals, your target audience and your professional offerings. Adapt or evolve all elements of your personal brand, and be consistent in how you communicate it. Weigh up the pros and cons of evolving your brand versus re-branding (starting from scratch). 

Before making any changes, consider changes in your industry and get feedback from a mentor or your close professional circle on what further adaptations to incorporate. 

Personal brand examples

To better understand personal branding, it helps to see real-world examples of people with a strong personal brand.

Neil Patel

If you've ever looked up a marketing term on Google or clicked on a blog post about SEO, it’s likely that you've encountered Neil Patel. A modern-day marketing guru, Patel has founded and co-founded multiple companies in the field of online marketing.

What sets Patel apart from other marketing CEOs is that he has a public persona and a well-developed personal brand. He has a strong social media presence and has a eponymous website where he posts thought-leadership blogs on marketing. His consistent creation of content has helped him establish himself a prominent marketing expert.

Leonardo DiCaprio

Personal branding is particularly important to Hollywood stars, as their private lives can impact their box-office value. Aside from building a strong professional reputation, Leonardo DiCaprio invests in personal branding by publicly funding causes that reinforce a positive public perception of him. 

Notably, he founded the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation to help restore and protect endangered ecosystems. He has spoken and appeared at many conservation events and makes regular public statements on environmental issues. This has helped to build his image as someone who is caring and passionate about the planet.

Elon Musk

Elon Musk is an example of someone with a divisive personal brand. Most billionaires choose to remain out of the public eye or – like Bill Gates or George Soros – carefully control their public image through PR activities and philanthropy. 

Elon’s main communication channel is X, and his account history on the platform is an insightful case study on how social media activity can influence public perception. Elon also demonstrates how a visual identity can be created through consistency. While he doesn’t have a bold signature look, his overall style is distinct from other tech CEOs like Mark Zuckerberg (jeans and t-shirt) and the late Steve Jobs (black turtlenecks). 

Personal brand statement examples

To start building your own personal brand, you can start by writing a personal brand statement. This is a one-sentence personal statement outlining who you are and what you do. Following are some examples. 

  • Chris Do, CEO of The Future: bilingual creative who lives at the intersection of business and design.
  • Brené Brown, Author and Sociology Expert: Keeping it awkward, brave, and kind.
  • Darren Franklin, Head of Industry at Google: Innovation is in my blood…I seek to find ways to adapt when needed and disrupt when possible.
  • Debbie Levitt, CX/UX Consultant: I’m The Mary Poppins of CX/UX. I fly in, find the true problems, improve everything I can, make the magic happen, sing a few songs, and fly away to the next project.

To give you a head start, here are some tips for creating your own unique brand statement:

  • Focus on your unique “selling” points – things you offer that make you stand out
  • Keep it concise, to-the-point and clear.
  • Use emotive and expressive language, with a touch of personality.
  • Think of a statement that will speak to your target audience.
  • Be creative and make it authentic to you.

A strong personal brand offers many professional advantages to the new job seeker. It can help you build a network, get you seen by potential employers, and help you establish yourself in your chosen industry. Start by curating your online presence and attending events, and consider expanding your digital footprint by creating a website or posting social media content. Importantly, align your personal brand to your professional objectives and be consistent, so that the image your project helps you shape the career you want.

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