A Guide to the Puzzle Pieces of Personal Branding

Personal branding is like a puzzle. Each piece represents a different aspect of your personality, skills, and values, and together they form a complete picture of who you are and what you stand for.

Cultivating a strong personal brand is the common thread between successful businesses at every level — it helps you differentiate yourself from the competition, communicate your unique value proposition, and build a positive reputation. A well-established personal brand can open doors to career advancement, better job opportunities, increased credibility, and greater visibility in the marketplace.

The importance of personal branding holds true whether you’re an entrepreneur or employed within an organization where you’re making a name for yourself, which you may have heard referred to as an “intrapreneur.”

If you’re struggling to put your personal branding puzzle together, we’ll show you the pieces you’re missing. In this article, we’ll cover:

  • Why personal branding matters, whether you’re an entrepreneur or intrapreneur
  • How to define and articulate your personal brand in a powerful, consistent way
  • How to strategically create content that amplifies your personal brand and expertise

Why personal branding matters

Personal branding means to create and manage a reputation for yourself outside of any other entity. It involves intentionally developing and presenting a clear, consistent image of yourself to the world, including your values, skills, and expertise to create a lasting impression on those around you, and position yourself for success.

Note that becoming an influencer is a specific avenue of personal branding that you may want to explore, but it’s not the focus of this article.

Now, let’s dive into six benefits of personal branding.

1. Differentiation

We’re all up against competition these days, whether we’re building a business, looking for a new role or we’re in the running for a promotion. Personal branding helps you differentiate yourself from others, so you can stand out from the crowd and be known for something specific. This is the first step to becoming credible and memorable to your audience.

2. Reputation building

Your personal brand is a reflection of your reputation and the value that you bring to the table. This is why your brand should never be cookie-cutter. By sharing your unique values, expertise, and experiences with others, you can build trust and credibility with your audience, whether that includes potential clients, investors, employers, or colleagues.

3. Career advancement

Your personal brand can help you achieve your career goals. A well-established personal brand can enable you to become known as an expert in your field, which can lead to new opportunities – including those with a higher salary, which is key for intrapreneurs – and increased visibility.

4. Networking

Your personal brand can help you build meaningful connections with others in your industry, which can lead to new collaborations, mentorship opportunities, clients, and growth. I can say that networking and referrals are huge drivers for my business, and my personal reputation has contributed to this.

5. Self-expression

If you’re a creative person like me, this is critical. Personal branding allows you to express your authentic self, share your passions and hone your voice. It gives you a platform to showcase who you are and what you stand for.

6. Increased revenue

An entrepreneur’s strong personal brand can also lead to increased revenue for a business, since clients are often willing to pay more for products or services offered by someone they know, like, and trust.

How to define and articulate your personal brand

Defining and articulating your purpose and origin story, values, and voice sets the foundation for your branding. But there’s more to it than that. Let’s explore seven key elements of personal brand development.

1. Articulate your mission or purpose

Your mission or purpose is something you should have in writing — a powerful guiding statement that communicates why you do the work you do and helps you build a connection with your audience.

2. Stick to your values

Your values should guide your interactions with your audience and establish trust with them. Think about it this way — when you get to know someone well, you learn what they stand for, and you become aware of what you can expect from them. Your personal brand should have the same effect on people.

3. Hone a unique brand personality

Have fun with your brand personality — choose whatever characteristics you feel best represent you. Your personality should be reflected in both your visual brand and the way your brand comes across in writing, like on social media or in the spoken word if your marketing includes speaking or podcast guesting.

4. Get clear on your brand voice

Are you direct? A little contrarian? Maybe you like to get a little academic when you discuss certain topics. Or you might be more laid back. The key is to work with what’s natural to you — not against it — and know that no matter what, you can’t be everyone’s cup of tea, nor should you try to be.

5. Craft your elevator pitch

This is the go-to, high-level description of who you are that helps you build a recognizable brand. If you don’t have this written component of your personal branding nailed down, you risk others writing your story for you — and you always want to shape the conversation when it comes to your brand.

6. Determine your key messages

Key messages go beyond your elevator pitch — they’re the key points about you that you want your audience to know or the things you care about that you talk about often. You should weave these key themes into your communications regularly, for example, in your social media content or on your blog if you have one. This is how you become known for something specific, differentiate yourself from others, and build credibility.

7. Establish cohesive visual branding

When you think about a company’s visual brand, it includes a logo, brand colors, signature imagery, fonts, and other stylistic design elements. You can incorporate as many of these elements into your personal brand as well. If you’re an entrepreneur, you’ll likely want to use all of them, but you may find that a lighter touch is enough. For example, maybe you often wear a certain color or type of accessory.

How to strategically create branded content

You need content that amplifies your personal brand and expertise if you want to be visible in your market and make an impact. This might include social media content, blog posts, newsletters, videos, podcasts, media interviews, or a signature talk.

It’s critical to have a strategy for content creation that positions your personal brand in the way you want it to be perceived. It’s no secret why top-performing companies use content strategies — to make their branding efforts worthwhile.

Taking a strategic approach to content creation can also help you avoid personal branding pitfalls. For example, if you have an outspoken personal brand, that may or may not jive with certain employers. People with strong personal brands can be assets to their companies, but the reality is that every situation is unique, and you have to consider what makes sense for yours. So, spend some time mapping out your content strategy.

5 examples of strong personal brands to help you kickstart yours

If you’re stuck on what kind of content to create for your personal brand, here are a few examples to give you inspiration.

1. Shonda Rhimes

Shonda Rhimes is known for massively successful television shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, Bridgerton, and more. A producer, screenwriter, and author, she made Time magazine’s annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world in both 2007 and 2021. In 2017, Netflix announced a multi-year development agreement with her.

As her website reads, Shonda “is the first woman to create three TV dramas that have achieved the 100-episode milestone. Those shows changed the face of television by proving that series featuring characters of color are more financially powerful in terms of advertising dollars and audiences than all-white series.”

2. Cindy Eckert

Cindy Eckert was described by business coach Eleanor Beaton as a “serial entrepreneur who is a strong advocate for women.”

Cindy’s Instagram feed is a solid example of a clear, compelling, and consistent personal brand — and her 200,000 followers agree. She has sold two businesses for more than $1.5 billion and now invests in and mentors other women. She’s also been featured in publications like Fortune, Entrepreneur magazine, and Vanity Fair. As her website says, “You cannot miss Cindy. Everything she touches turns to pink.”

3. Michelle Lee

Marketer Audrey Anderson highlighted global content executive Michelle Lee’s impressive career as both an intrapreneur and entrepreneur. Audrey noted Michelle’s success as Editor-In-Chief of Allure, bringing diversity and their stance on aging with grace to the forefront. In 2013, Google named Michelle a Thought Leader.

Most recently, Michelle was the VP of Global Editorial & Publishing at Netflix, where she led social media, content marketing, and podcasts until December 2022. She has now founded her own marketing consultancy.

4. Ruth Bader Ginsberg

Consistency is integral to personal branding, and that means staying true to your convictions, no matter what. The late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, former United States Supreme Court Justice, is a shining example of this. 

The Atlantic says of Ginsburg’s secret as an iconic feminist voice, “seems to be that, even in a time of reality-show presidential rule and shifting narratives, she remained unwaveringly who she had always been — as controlled as she was in the now-vanished world of post-war Brooklyn.”

5. Mindy Kaling

Actor, comedian, screenwriter, and producer Mindy Kaling is recognized for having a strong personal brand.

In this Webflow article, Mindy is described as someone who wields humor to create smart comedy that disputes societal norms. Her personal brand is multifaceted and reflects her experience as a writer, feminist, and actor, while spotlighting with clarity what issues she holds dear.

How to generate impactful content that sticks

There are a few questions you can ask yourself to help generate content ideas for your own personal brand. Your answers to these questions can serve as content topics — the basis for the stories you are going to tell to help your audience get to know, like, and trust you.

Storytelling is critical when it comes to creating content, so try to follow a story-based framework whenever you can. Storytelling will make your content “stickier,” or more memorable.

  • Think about your mission or purpose. Maybe it’s to advance gender equity in business. What unites people around that mission?
  • What riles you up about the obstacles that stand in the way of your mission? What do you think needs to be done differently to achieve it?
  • What is the unique approach or process you bring to your work? Why do you approach it this way?
  • What do people say is the impact of collaborating with you – or using your service, if you’re a business owner?
  • What are the biggest misconceptions about the issues you care about, or your work, that you can dispel?
  • What are some personal stories that you can tell to help people get to know you better?

Create a personal brand to be proud of

Personal branding matters, whether you’re an entrepreneur or intrapreneur. To establish yourself as a powerful and consistent personal brand, start by defining and articulating the foundations like your mission and values. These cornerstones will help you strategically create content that amplifies your personal brand and expertise, so your audience knows they can turn to you for answers.

Afton Brazzoni is the founder of Scribe National, a B2B content strategy and writing studio in Calgary, Canada. As a former journalist, she is passionate about helping companies amplify their voices to build thought leadership and drive sales with original, story-rich content marketing.


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