Personal Branding: What It Is and How to Build Your Personal Brand

October 26, 2023

Have you developed your personal brand? 

An agency-minded approach to developing your personal and professional brand

A few years ago, a husband and wife team approached COHN about developing their personal brands, individually. Having crafted more than 200 brand strategies in 20+ years, we understood why COHN was selected for the work, but we did not have much experience developing a brand strategy for a person (rather than a business). 

Their brand goals centered primarily on their unique personalities , putting guard rails and guidelines around how to express their personas to external target audiences, as both were in the process of creating content by launching podcasts, publishing books and becoming social media influencers for niche audiences. The project was fascinating, and both were enthusiastically over the moon about the brands we created for them. 

This process of personal branding, which mirrors branding for business, has grown immensely in importance in the digital age. In a world saturated with content and voices clamoring for attention, establishing a personal brand has become crucial for professionals, artists, and even everyday individuals. 

What is personal branding?

At its core, personal branding is the conscious effort to create a unique public perception of an individual, painting them as an authority in their industry, highlighting their unique strengths and differentiating them from competitors. Writing an effective personal brand statement is key to this. It’s how you present yourself to the world and how the world perceives you.

Just like branding for a product or company, personal branding strategy consists of various elements like brand expression and creative design (think logos, color palettes), brand archetyping, messaging tone, content strategy, and online visibility. Effective public relations can also help you stand out by building your authority in your field.

While both involve cultivating a specific image and reputation, personal branding focuses on individuals, whereas regular branding concerns businesses or products. The emotional connection people form with individuals is different from their connection with products or companies. 

What are some examples to better understand personal branding? 

Our clients wanted written guidelines for their personal brands, but not all have to be delivered in a formal brand book. Personal branding should come naturally and ordinarily should not require a physical brand book and style guide. 

Consider Coach Prime (Deion Sanders). His brand is synonymous with excellence in athletics, entertainment and a willingness to be raw and honest, even if it goes against norms and standards. Politicians, social media influencers, and thought leaders like Brene Brown or Elon Musk have harnessed the power of successful personal branding to amplify their reach and influence.

For everyday professionals like you and me, building a personal brand establishes credibility, opens professional opportunities, and can help in building a network that could be beneficial personally and professionally.

How do you create and curate your personal brand? 

Your personal brand should be intentional, but authentic. Creating a strong personal brand isn’t about crafting a new persona, per se; it’s about authentically reflecting who you are. It starts with self-reflection, understanding your core values, and then setting clear personal branding goals.

Visual consistency across all platforms, aligned communication styles, and a well-managed online presence are foundational to effective personal branding. Strategies like publishing in renowned journals, giving talks, or hosting webinars can position you as a thought leader.

Everyone has unique qualities. The challenge is to showcase them effectively. What do you offer that no one else does?

A strong online presence, coupled with valuable networking and seeking endorsements, can significantly boost your personal brand’s reputation. Managing your social media accounts is essential to making personal branding important.

COHN is a professional brand agency

Creating a personal brand might seem daunting, but with the right understanding, it can help you understand how, when and why your audiences should care about you. 

The same is true with businesses. From strategic consultations to compelling visual narratives, COHN helps brands roadmap their marketing and communications through the lens of brand strategy. Don’t leave it to chance; take charge of how the world perceives you and contact our team to get started.

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