Personal branding — How To Get the Unique Presence You Want

What is personal branding? That was the question on a recent Twitter #contentchat, hosted by marketing consultant Erika Heald.

Is personal branding a trendy concept, or an important key to your success? Should you really bother developing your personality online, given everything else you’re doing as a marketer or solo entrepreneur?

Why You Should Care About Personal Branding

Personal branding is an essential concept if you want to build an audience, online or anywhere.

It gives you a distinct identity, makes you and your work easier to recognize. It helps you build relationships with other people.

Your personal brand is the set of human qualities, strengths and values you want to plant in the minds of your audience. Your personal brand emerges as people interact with what you publish.

Having a clear sense of your personal brand helps you especially decide what to say and how to say it.

It simplifies decisions like,

  • What kind of tone do I want to set?
  • What kind of language will I allow in discussions?
  • What topics will I publicly discuss?
  • What point of view will I bring to topics I care about?
  • How do I want people to feel after engaging with me or my content?
    • Inspired? Amused? Smarter? Energized? Thoughtful? Empowered? More relaxed and confident? Refocused? Healed? Heard?

What you publish — and how — from your choice of images, website design, and your choice of words, reflects your personal brand.

Do You Need a Personal Brand if You Work for Someone Else?

Even as an employee, if you share content under your own name, you have a personal brand.

Think Ann Handley Chief Content Author at Marketing Profs. Ann is also a bestselling author in her own right, a blogger, and is active on social media. How do you make your personal brand and your organization’s brand work together? Make sure they are compatible:

If you think, content marketing, writing, fun, helpful, professional, these are some of the qualities Ann Handley’s personal brand.

How Do You Create Your Personal Brand?

Your personal brand results from countless decisions about personal traits you express through your content, images, and your online presence. Your decisions can be conscious or not.

Creating a personal brand is about being intentional in the tone, ideas and personality you share, to attract the kind of attention you want, but you don’t actually control it.

You plant the seeds in your content. But it doesn’t live there. Ultimately, your personal brand is what your audience thinks of you — not what you’d like them to think.

Thinking through your personal branding gives you many marketing advantages. Knowing what personality you want to experess makes your presence more unique and distinctive. As people respond to your personality, you can understand more about your audience. You can focus on those topics you want to remind readers of you.

Your personal brand helps you establish the tone, and unique voice for your content. So when you’re clear about the qualities you want to share in your personal brand, you can make faster, more consistent decisions about your marketing, your design elements, your voice, what topics to address, and how you’ll put your content together.

So, having a clear sense of your own personal brand can be instrumental in streamlining your work.

Strong Personal Branding Example: Neil Patel

Let’s say you want a personal brand that says you’re friendly, trustworthy, an expert, and easy to understand. Here are some ways Neil Patel’s personal blog at makes this happen:

Neil Patel Personal Branding Example

Let’s take Neil Patel’s post, “Content Marketing Made Simple” Here’s how some features of his personal branding as an approachable, expert consultant shine through:

  • Understandable: short paragraphs are easy to read – most paragraphs are only 1 sentence long.
  • Clear: The blog presents a bold, high-contrast color scheme
  • Trustworthy: images from real life and charts with real data that prove his facts
  • Straightforward: Clean, minimal design – one strong feature color, clean, round readable font.
  • Casual – uses informal photos of himself
  • Approachable – Tone of his writing is conversational and engaging. The post opens by asking “Do you know what this is?” above a picture of a comic book.
  • An expert (beyond question): An abundance of knowledge flows through each paragraph. An entire article, though easy to read, offers far more value than you can absorb in one pass. — Most of Patel’s posts are over 1000 words. This top-ranking one, answering what is content marketing, weighs in at 10,205 words
  • Customer-focused: The focus is clearly on helping the reader learn. 93 of the 1000 or so sentences are questions. Neil asks questions he knows his audience has along the way then answers them:

Well, now that you have a good idea what content marketing stands for, you might wonder, “How can I succeed at content marketing myself?”

A strong sense of your personal brand, can support a rich emotional experience your readers can remember and seek out — because they connect with you.

More Resources:

The Complete Guide to Building Your Personal Brand, by Neil Patel and Aaron Aguis:

How Women can develop — and Promote — Their Personal Brand (Harvard Business Review):

4 Steps for Using Content to Build Your Personal Brand

How Do You Balance Your Personal and Professional Social Media Presence, by Ann Handley

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