29 Keys to the Most Effective Personal Branding

This blog earns money via affiliate marketing – meaning that I may earn a commission when you purchase a product or service after clicking a link on this site (at no additional cost to you). As an Amazon affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

What do Rand Fishkin, Charlie Puth, and Martha Stewart all have in common?

They are all killer personal brand examples…

While many equate strong personal branding only to powerful leadership, there’s a lot more that goes into crafting a personal brand statement. In business, your personal brand needs to leave a lasting impression or you risk being ignored. This can be the result of your voice, off-the-wall persona, whacky facial hair, or any other number of unique things.

Establishing a personal brand carries even more weight when you’re responsible for developing and leading others. When you have a team looking up to you for guidance and instruction, it’s important to remain consistent in the way you lead. The only way to establish yourself as a leader is to identify your core values and the impression you want to leave.

But even if you don’t have a team of direct reports, we are all leaders who come from different walks of life with varied experiences that shape our core values. Great leaders often align their leadership values with personal beliefs and ethics of their own . Personal values adopted as professional values translate into our core beliefs that are easy to visibly act on every day in our personal and professional lives.

Which Section Do You Want to Read First?

What is Personal Branding?

This image shows the elements that make up personal branding.

This question can carry a lot of weight, but don’t overwhelm yourself. Let’s start by asking a few simple questions.

  • What is your trademark (something that sets you apart)?
  • What type of impact do you want to make?
  • How do you want to be recognized and what do you want to be remembered for?

Matt Sweetwood, branding expert, defines personal branding as:

“Personal branding is the practice of people marketing themselves and their careers as brands — the ongoing process of establishing a prescribed image or impression in the mind of others about an individual.”

Your personal brand is the mark you leave on the world. It’s shown through the actions you take, and the persona you portray. If you’re successful, your brand will leave an impact long after you’re gone.

But it must be memorable to stand out in this cluttered media world.

A strong personal brand is so much more than a memorable name or product. It’s an extension of yourself that lingers even long after that person has left your website, book, show, or other piece of content. It is arguably even more important than a business’ brand, as businesses may come and go, but your personal brand is yours forever.

As you go down the path of creating, perfecting, and evolving your personal brand, be mindful of every action and choice you make. Unlike a business, your personal brand doesn’t have hours of operation, it simply is 24/7/365.  While Sheryl Sandberg argues that there is no such thing as a personal brand but only business brands, it’s hard to square that with how many unknown people have gained national or international celebrity status though the power of digital media.

While it takes a ton of hard work and decades to build your personal brand, it can be lost in an instant with a misstep or two if you are not careful. Build and guard your reputation, and the end result is absolutely worth it.

9 Killer Personal Brand Statement Examples

This image asks the question that gets at the core of personal branding: who are you?

Before we tackle the details of crafting a perfect personal brand, it’s important to look at at some top notch examples already out there. The following personal brand statement examples come from a variety of people across numerous industries and professions.

Crafting a few sentences that distill your career essence and aspirations into something memorable will help you go a long way towards cutting through the noise in the world as well as help you home in on what you are best at.

Note that many of these vary in tone and length, giving the statements even more of a personal touch. There are no hard and fast rules about what a personal brand statement must be, but it’s best to be as specific as possible but not be too verbose.

“Inspirational CEO/CFO turned positive-psychologist resiliently transforming businesses & financial performance.”

An image of Tamara Dowling, personal branding success story.

​”As a catalyst for positive change, I have a history of engaging board and staff members to generate new ideas and increase overall performance. I am adept at establishing policies, procedures, and technologies to enhance efficiency, financial health, and service to organize constituents.

I enjoy building and strengthening strategic alliances. My passion is to guide nonprofits, specifically those focused on youth empowerment, to achieve new heights.”

“Helps thought leaders write great books in just 90 days. 500 satisfied clients so far…”

This image shows Kristi Daeda, business consultant.

​”I help individuals and companies make the most of talent.  I work as a part of the team. I am a straight shooter who isn’t afraid to have the tough conversations.  I also believe that people are more capable and valuable than they often give/get credit for.

My method marries the sublime with the systematic — allowing for creativity and change with a strong focus on foundation and implementation.”

“I leverage my avid love of learning and mastery of online technology to facilitate career management for trend-setting professionals who strive to be dynamic and high achieving in their business.”
​”I help people to transform their businesses, their careers and their lives.”

7. Sheri K. Czar

“I rescue troubled companies. I have a documented track record of business development, operational planning, and leadership. My ability to find solutions that lead to success, foster team cohesion, pursue excellence, and work with a high degree of integrity has become my brand.

In one case, I led a company through unparalleled growth and success, increasing revenue from $30 million to $60 million. In another, I managed significant software changeover/upgrade for more accurate and timely processing of accounting functions, inventory reports, and financial statements.”

An image of Hubert Rampersad, president of Technological University of the Americas.

​”Passionate and compassionate to inspire learning individuals to unlock their potential and dedicated to energize innovative organizations within the service and manufacturing industry. Using my holistic insight and innovative Total Performance Scorecard principles, I promise to help my customers to realize their financial dreams.”

Wendy Enelow, marketing and business expert.

    “Recognized for 20+ years of success in linking science-based achievements with decisive market leadership to build high-performance organizations with significant financial rewards.

Led strategic and operational breakthroughs in proactive health informatics and communications technologies, evidence-based prevention and care management products, and cost-effective healthcare delivery systems. Pioneer in wellness and prevention programs, disease management and population health.”

Now that we’ve looked at 9 personal brand statements, let’s look at some well-known personalities and how they’ve built successful personal brands.

12 Delightful Personal Brand Examples

This image drives home the crux of personal branding - being your brand.

The beauty of personal branding is that it works in any industry. Whether you’re in the corporate world, tech industry, or an aspiring YouTube star, a strong personal brand can take you far.

These 12 influencers listed below come from various backgrounds but all share one common theme: they have established a unique identity that separates them from their competition. As a result, they’re quickly designated as thought leaders within their respective industries.

1. Rand Fishkin – SEO Expert

Rand Fishkin could arguably be dubbed the original SEO expert.

A pioneer in the field, Rand’s personal brand got strapped to a rocket when he started his company, Moz, in 2004. This quickly turned into a massive digital marketing think tank, giving Rand the opportunity to foster a community and share his voice and knowledge. He now has an SEO empire with podcasts and weekly videos that deliver his knowledge and thought leadership to the SEO world.

What made this all possible? His calm demeanor, willingness to help, and desire to make the SEO world a better place.

His unforgettable facial hair is also a plus.

2. Charlie Puth – Singer/Songwriter

Charlie Puth began his rise to personal branding success at an early age. Gifted with the rare trait known as “perfect pitch,” Charlie Puth was born and raised in the music world.

By sixth grade he was going door-to-door, selling a homemade Christmas album. In 2011, he was signed to Ellen DeGeneres’ label, eleveneleven. Four years later, he released his multi-platinum hit, “Marvin Gaye.”

In the oft-controversial world of music, Charlie Puth has crafted his image as a fun, rather innocent singer with a clean past. You sing it, Charlie.


3.​ Neil Patel – Content Marketing Expert

An image of Neil Patel, a driving force in content marketing and SEO.

Neil Patel has become the king of content marketing over the past several years. While his knowledge of content marketing helped him get where he is today, it’s his bold, fun tone of voice that’s helped him carve his niche.

Along with his unique voice, he often has unique, sometimes borderline-counterintuitive ideas that actually work. Lastly, he’s done an incredible job marketing himself. He has a personal site, multiple companies, and does the Marketing School podcast with Eric Siu.


4. Hannah Hart – Food Host, YouTube Personality

Hannah Hart, better known as the founder of the popular YouTube series “My Drunk Kitchen,” has used comedy to launch herself into the spotlight of the food and cooking world. Her relatable tone and use of humor made her a quick success on YouTube, which led to her eventual book release and her own Food Network show, “I Hart Food.”

5. Jeff Bullas – Entrepreneur

Jeff Bullas started his blog in 2009 for a whopping $10. He had little idea about how to approach blogging, but learned what he could along the way. Now, he receives more than five-million hits a year and travels the world for speaking engagements.

None of this would have happened if it weren’t for his desire to learn, share, and get his hands dirty. He took a gamble and dove headfirst into the blogging world, and it paid off. This brazen willingness to tackle problems head on is exactly what makes him a great teacher, and as a result, a great leader.


6. ​Ann Handley – Content Marketing Expert

Ann Handley is well-known in the writer and marketing circles for her great advice and willingness to help.

Ann Hadley is a renowned writer about marketing, known for her witty style and killer advice.

She established her place as a thought leader by offering bold and useful advice on writing and creating great content which lead to numerous best-selling books. She’s also the founder of the incredibly successful site, MarketingProfs. She now has a podcast, blog, and continues to create content across numerous additional channels.

Noticing a theme here? All of these leaders dabble in numerous channels and projects with a focus on the long-term, maximizing their brand exposure.


7. Miles Anthony Smith – Leadership & Career Expert ​

Miles Anthony Smith (Hey, that’s me!) is a leadership, career, and marketing expert and coach. His unique brand, the Why “Stuff” Sucks® Series boldly shares the frustrations and challenges with leadership models, dated career advice, and even the problems with success in his upcoming “Why Success Sucks” book.

With the loss of hair on his head, it has migrated south, creating a fine beard.


8. Tanya Burr – Beauty Guru, YouTube Personality

Tanya Burr has grown from YouTube star to fashion and beauty entrepreneur thanks to her persona.

Tanya Burr, another YouTube success story, started making videos in 2009. Nine years later, she has more than 3.6 million subscribers, multiple books, an acting career, and an entire beauty line.

She managed to find success for several reasons, but first and foremost, she found it by connecting with her younger audience and being relatable. Her sincere demeanor is obvious in everything she does, and her audience can’t get enough of it.

9. Seth Godin – Business Expert, Author

Seth Godin’s career took off due to his trailblazing personality…and maybe that iconic bald head and glasses look.

From the founding and eventual sale of his first company, Yoyodyne, in 1998, to being named Yahoo’s VP of direct marketing, to having a blog named “Time’s” Top 25 blog in 2009, Seth Godin has always succeeded at his ventures. Seth’s to-the-point tone and willingness to share free advice have made him a staple in the online world today.

10. Mike Rowe – Television Host, Personality

 Mike Rowe, while an actor, has managed to build his brand as a blue collar hero.

If you knew Mike Rowe only for his television show, you’d think he came from a background of blue collar work.

In all reality, Mike Rowe, an Eagle Scout, is simply a great actor who found his niche: being the champion of blue collar and trade work. His down-to-Earth attitude and ability to relate to the everyday American, has helped him become the massively successful personality he is today.

While originally famous for the Discovery channel’s “Dirty Jobs,” he leads the renowned podcast, “The Way I Heard It,” and CNN’s “Somebody’s Gotta Do It.”

11.​ Anna Wintour – Fashion Mogul, Journalist

When it comes to fashion and publishing, there are few more successful or well known than Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of “Vogue” since 1988.

Anna Wintour has established herself and “Vogue” as the pinnacle of the fashion world for more than two decades now, by never hesitating to say or do what she wants to do. While this has also led to her being viewed as a divisive figure by some, she is nonetheless a prime

12. Martha Stewart – Home Expert, TV Personality

Martha Stewart has had a bumpy ride, but her brand has always bounced back – and evolved. From her incarceration for “insider trading” charges in 2004, she found a way to rejoin her company and eventually gain the senior leadership role.

Martha’s cheerful personality has made her a fixture in homes for decades, even though many have accused her of being a control freak behind the scenes. Perhaps, her attention to detail is part of what fueled her rise to stardom. In recent years she’s gone as far as reinventing her brand, creating “Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party” on VH1.

8 Solid Steps to Building a Personal Brand

This word cloud showcases the primary tenets of personal branding.

It’s easy to think that many have a strong personal brand simply because they’re charismatic, likeable people. While this may help, it doesn’t always equate to having a strong personal brand.

Building a personal brand is the result of intentional, hard work done consistently over many years or decades.

Look at how many different projects the above examples are involved in. None of them are creating content for one channel, they’re all using numerous outlets.

While the words in the above word cloud are all key elements of a great brand, they are only helpful if actionable. The good thing is there are several steps that can help anyone create a strong personal brand. If you follow these steps consistently, your personal brand will grow over time. Also, a little charisma does go a long way.

1. Establish Authentic Rapport with Others

When you’re in leadership (and we all are even if we don’t have employees reporting to us), it’s not only about you.

You and your team now share success and failure as one cohesive unit. As a team leader, it’s your responsibility to foster an environment that will allow your group to meet all goals and objectives.

To do so, it’s important to make sure you have buy in from your team members and that everyone shares a common definition of what success means to you and the organization. This involves complete and open communication on your vision, from how you conduct yourself to your nonverbal cues.

Coming off as a genuine, “real person” to your team rather than a corporate robot, jerk, or politician is vital.

2. Be Confident and Real

People don’t want to follow leaders who show uncertainty and anxiety.

That said, don’t fake it when you are struggling a bit, but find a way to regain that confidence quickly. When you express your values with confidence and have the outcomes to back it up, your influence will draw others in. People will naturally want to follow your lead because they know who you are and what you represent.

Consistency is key, and emphasizing your personal brand through your actions will further solidify your impact as a leader.

3. Invite Genuine Commentary and Feedback

Communication is a two way street. A strong leader is one who invites the insights and opinions of others. You can’t possibly know it all, and what better way to gain perspective than from your team?

When you listen to people you trust, you will gain new insight and perspective into yourself and how you operate. This will help you fine tune your personal brand, your goals, and how you interact with others moving forward.

Open lines of communication also inspire renewed interest in your values and your vision among your team. Your encouragement will also give your employees a further sense of purpose and value by gaining confidence in their abilities of what they can accomplish.

4. Present Your Professionalism

Rand Fishkin, SEO expert and founder of Moz.

Leadership is about expression, and you can express yourself in a number of different ways. Establishing a personal style as a leader is key.

What you wear and how you present yourself is often the first way people identify the type of leader you are. Your appearance and style choices are the easiest ways to leave an impression, but also set a standard. Make it count.

Ladies: It’s all about balance and tailoring to things to the culture of the organization. You shouldn’t have to sacrifice style when it comes to dressing for a leadership role. However, your hair, makeup and outfit choices must all align to give off a clean, put together look. Michele Oppenheimer says, “The hair has to be shiny and vibrant, the makeup flawless and the clothes should be clean, well pressed and fit perfectly…” Many professionals look to online personal stylists to experiment with different looks and find the one that compliments their personal brand the best.

Gentlemen: The same goes for you. There’s no need to sacrifice your personal grooming preferences when it comes to your career. You should be mindful of what is acceptable in your industry, but it’s safe to say that being facial hair free everyday is no longer the standard.

Maintain a level of professionalism, and make sure your face and facial hair are well kept. Your facial hair should look like it’s there intentionally; a helpful tip would be to use personal time like weekends or vacations to spend time growing out your hair. Nicole Williams tells Business Insider, “spotty beards make men look like 18-year-olds.”

On the other end, when shaving your face, be sure to eliminate the risk of unnecessary nicks, cuts and irritation by using the right shaving tools. New blades, shaving cream and a proper shaving technique are a must!

Don’t be afraid to use your facial hair or hairstyle as a way to showcase your unique personality. Just look at Rand Fishkin in the picture above. His facial hair, while bold, is still maintained well and says a lot about his personality.

5. Do or Be Something Unique

Think about Prince or Madonna…

They are memorable and iconic, right?

In the age of the internet, people can find advice and solutions to their problems from countless sources. You want them to turn to you.

Beyond having great advice, you need to be memorable. Look at Rand Fishkin and his unique facial hair and style. Can you look at that mustache and forget him? Or Prince and his wacky, well, everything.

6. Find Your Memorable Moment

You might have the greatest personality in the world and a ton of knowledge to back whatever you’re selling, but that doesn’t equal success unless there’s an opportunity to be had.

Examine the circles you’re hoping to break into, and see what kinds of issues they’re having. Then, build your persona and content around speaking to those pain points and helping those circles thrive.

This will make you a hero in no time.

​7. Live by Your Values

Just like every business has its mission statement, you need to have your own set of values you live by. Think about your core message, who you are, and the brand you want to build. Craft your values around what matters most to you to ensure your branding is always consistent, and most importantly, that you never let you or your fans down.

8. Be True to Yourself

Aside from being great dating advice, being yourself is the best thing you can do for your personal brand in most cases.

Not to be confused with the previous point, being true to yourself is all about being authentic. In today’s day and age of social media, It’s easy to see through a façade. While your personal brand isn’t just about your social media pages, it’s important to make sure your personal brand is built around you – the real you.

If those closest to you tell you that you’re putting on an act for your audience, it’s time to rethink your brand. The best personal brands and brand leaders are the ones that flourish because they’re genuine. Look at the list above and note how all of those brand leaders are putting themselves out there in a very authentic way.

Don’t do anything you yourself wouldn’t support or do, be honest, and be genuine. It will pay off. 

So Where Should I Go from Here with my Personal Branding?

This image asks the question everyone has when tackling their personal branding - what's next?

A company brand might be developed in a boardroom, the result of countless meetings and brainstorming sessions. Your personal brand comes from you are and project yourself to be.

Whether you are building your personal brand to work in the corporate world or as an entrepreneur working remotely, either situation is no more or less important. If in the latter camp, check out this list of home based business ideas.

When developing your personal brand, never lose sight of who you are and what your ultimate goal is. There’s nothing worse than getting several miles along your journey and realizing you’ve lost sight of your destination.

Most of all, have fun!

Creating a personal brand is a ton of work, but it’s also incredibly rewarding and a great learning experience. Plus, it can generate a long-term income from that investment if executed well.

For further help developing your career, check out my book, Why Career Advice Sucks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Miles Photo Shoot 020 1

Hi, I’m Miles Anthony Smith, founder of Why Stuff Sucks™, a lead generation/nurturing focused digital marketing agency.

I live for the business results we get for our clients, and love coaching others to level up their digital marketing and leadership skills. Cheers!