Personal Branding Basics

The personal branding basics you can use to create positive public recognition

The concept of building a brand is not new, while we normally think of brands as companies or products, people are brands too. In fact, whether we like it or not, we’ve been cultivating our personal brand since childhood in the form of word of mouth reputation and our digital footprint. Making the leap to owning our personal brand story is a challenge for most, we’ve been conditioned to think that being self-promotional is a negative thing, uncouth in some way. But nowhere does it say you have to create a personal brand that is distasteful or something you can’t be proud of. Personal branding is really about taking control of the brand of you that already exists in the world. Creating your own road to recognition and forging your own path. If you want to be in the drivers seat of your brand narrative, here are a few ways to start.

Decide that you are brand worthy

The actor Kevin Hart, said it best, “Knowing your self worth is extremely important people. I own my brand, I make smart decisions for my brand, I protect my brand” Once you start thinking about yourself as a brand, it’s like that moment when you realize you have a code to live up to, you stand for something. What is that something that you want people to think of when they hear your name? Is there some super power that you have that people should know about? When you start thinking about how you want your brand to be perceived, you can start to be much more strategic about your road to personal branding. There is no right way, there is only you and the you that you aspire to be. Personal brands come in all shapes and sizes.: Seth Godin, Leigh Brown, Chris Smith, Pat Flynn, Ann Handley, Jason Fried, Michael Hyatt, Dorie Clark, Gary Vaynerchuk and Sherry Chris are all different flavors of a personal brand.
Personal branding is the art of becoming knowable, likable and trustable – John Jantsch

Find out what the web already has to say about you

It’s a come to jesus moment, where you find out if you can be found on the web at all. Start by Googling yourself and setup alerts for your name, your business and maybe even your role models. If you have a John Smith style common name, consider adding your middle name or middle initial to help stand out on the web. Cultivating a strong personal brand is as much about creating the breadcrumbs for discovery as it about identifying opportunities and seizing them.

Your personal brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room – Chris Ducker

Set up a personal website

It has never been easier or more affordable to dream up, design and create a personal website. It’s the first step in putting the “brand of you” stake in the ground and saying. “Here I am and this is what I do, this is what I stand for.” More than anything, a personal website acts as a window in which you can showcase what you do and connect with a targeted audience. This has the greatest impact when showcasing your work, highlighting your expertise, passions or ideas you have to share with the world. Whether you are wanting to supercharge your career, build a tribe, create influence, get found on the web, sell more stuff or actually change the world… you need to take a stand and say what that is so people can align with you or against you.

Infuse your brand with generosity

The real key to turning your personal brand into an authority within your universe is by paying it forward and helping those around you. This is really counterintuitive when you need to pay the rent. But the more people you can help, the more people will associate you with your niche and start to recommend you to others that need help.
There are many, many ways you can demonstrate your expertise in your niche while being helpful. Just make sure it’s authentic, they say dogs and bees can smell fear, I’m convinced that humans can smell inauthenticity.

Surround yourself with those that inspire you

It’s said that you are the sum of the people you surround yourself with. When building a brand, associate yourself with the best in your field, learn from them, model their behavior, and add value to their lives. Your brand is strengthened or weakened by your connection to those around you. Start with your role models, who do you aspire to be like? Then focus on influencers in your niche, who commands respect in your field that you also respect? What opportunities exist for you to acknowledge, promote, converse or collaborate with the influencers in your space?

Tell your story

A strong personal brand is dependent on a clear narrative and a consistent story. Who are you and what’s your story? This is an opportunity for you to think about the narrative of your brand. While you may have lots of personal history, passions and talents, your personal brand needs to tell a unified story. What will people say about you when you when you’re not around. I like to think about the game of telephone. If you told your story to someone, would it hold up in translation with the next recipient? Let your freak flag fly and own the brand of you.

Never stop learning

My friend & marketer Mark Schaefer said it best, “You have to be a fearless learner today”. We’ve all heard someone utter the words “I just don’t know if I can keep up with this technology, when I look at how these young people are using technology today, it’s just intimidating”. That is a theme that resonates at all age levels and it will never go stop. The questions “How do I learn? How do I keep up?” require that you be fearless and determined to say, “I’m not gonna be irrelevant. I’m going to embrace change”. You don’t have to know every single change and every single platform. You just need to be open, willing and eager to learn. The road to recognition is not a check box, it’s a journey.


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. – Tom Peters

Here’s some more resources for your journey: an infographic that we crafted at Placester with the help of the marketing genius, Barry Feldman.  It’s the inspiration for our forthcoming book: The Road to Recognition. Stay tuned…….