As a personal brand coach, I’ve run into a lot of misconceptions about what I do.
Granted, personal branding is a relatively new concept. It wasn’t until the era of YouTubers and influencers that we all began to realize the benefits that transparency and authenticity bring to a brand.
That’s what personal branding is all about: bridging the gap between work and your everyday life. And it’s not about making your life your work or vice versa.
Take it from a former lifestyle blogger; I felt like I had to get the perfect Instagram post every time I left the house. That put me in a position where I felt like I was constantly working. Eventually, it just wasn’t fulfilling because I didn’t want to use my voice to just talk about my favorite vacation spots.
So I rebranded. I started talking about what really drives me (marketing), and the rest came easily. Now I can’t wait to get up and start the day. At night, sometimes, I’m too passionate about the project I’m working on to go to bed. It doesn’t feel like work.
Plus, now I don’t have to stress about writing a blog post when my husband and I go on vacation!
How Personal Is Personal Branding?
I understand some people don’t wear their hearts on their sleeves. So I suppose this is the first (smaller) personal branding myth I’ll address.
When you use your personal image to market (whether it’s a service, a product, work, or art), you don’t have to put it all out there. For example, the most intimate things people know about me as a personal brand coach is that my husband is my business partner, and I have two dogs.
And I’m willing to bet most of you didn’t even know those details unless you really paid attention.
I’ll admit that you do have to be willing to be vulnerable to some degree. Posting your ideas and opinions online will always come with unsolicited feedback. But at the heart of it, personal branding is just about combining humanity with a strategy to market something you care about.
So no— you don’t have to talk about your recent divorce or vlog your daily life to get people to pay attention.
Personal Brand Coach Debunks 5 Common Myths of Personal Branding
Before you scroll onto the highlights, let me explain why this information needs to be out there.
I’ve had consult calls, followers, and even my own clients question what personal branding can really do for a CEO or founder.
Besides the fact that there is now proof that personal branding is the key to a successful career, it’s simply the easiest way to strategize your marketing efforts. You don’t have to worry if your employees accurately represent the brand, and you don’t have to perfect your logo and aesthetic.
Instead, you take what you know, create a video, blog, or social media post, and put it out for the world to see.
If you do this consistently and with authenticity 3-5 times a week, people will start to recognize you. And more importantly, they’ll begin to like, know, and trust you.
So what’s the catch? Is personal branding the end-all, be-all when it comes to marketing? Here are some common myths I hear as a coach when it comes to personal branding.
Myth #1: You’ll see success overnight.
I’ve never trusted guarantees. Have you?
If anyone ever offers you a certain amount of followers or business growth, they’re lying to you.
It takes 3-6 months for the Google algorithm to pick up your SEO blogs, there will be 5-7 interactions before a customer recognizes a brand, and it takes consistently posting for people to trust you.
Like anything in business, personal branding doesn’t bring overnight success. Even for people who go viral and see some traction, it’s usually temporary.
It might be a few months or even a few years, but people who don’t know how to leverage their personal brands are eventually going to fail. If you happen to get a post to go viral, you have to ride on the coattails of the virality to keep up the momentum. During that time, you have to be deliberate about your next steps. For example, you need to look for ways to extend your income streams and you need to look for other career opportunities (like getting press).
Myth #2: You don’t have to do anything.
Nope! And this one is difficult to explain to clients.
As a personal brand coach, I’m the decisive and organized force behind my client’s content. However, I can never put the personal in their personal brand.
Unlike traditional company marketing, your role as the founder is a little more hands-on when it comes to personal brand marketing. Yes, I can create stunning graphics for your social media and write thought-provoking blog posts that are primed to draw attention.
But nothing about those two things is personal.
The intimate part of building a personal brand comes from finding your unique voice, and honestly, your image. Your personal anecdotes, your opinions, and your face all need to be tied into your personal brand if you want it to work. That means you need to film videos, get on IG Stories, communicate and connect with your audience.
So, yes, even if you hire a marketing manager, a social media manager, or a personal brand coach like me, you still have work to do.
Myth #3: You just need to be yourself.
As much as influencers want you to believe that “being yourself” is enough to garner success— it’s a farce. You still need a strategy.
Think of it this way: maintaining your personal brand is like riding a bike. You have to keep pedaling to keep the momentum going. That’s because, at some point in your career, you’ll become stagnant.
Do you know what to do when that happens?
If you keep doing the same things, you’re going to get the same results. That’s why you need to be on top of trends, and you need to know what’s going on online.
Social media platforms are constantly changing or switching up algorithms. For example, Instagram used to be the platform for social prosperity. Now, it’s pay-to-play (which is why everyone is flocking over to Tik Tok).
Having a brand strategy can help you adapt to changes in the market.
Even if you’re not looking to outsource a personal brand coach, don’t make the mistake of posting a video and expecting clients and customers to come to you.
At least not right away.
Personal branding is about putting yourself out there but with purpose. Every piece of content should be strategically primed with keywords, imagery, and words to help you build an audience.
Myth #4: Personal branding success is linear.
Here’s the thing when it comes to success: it’s never linear.
I‘ve heard some people assume that your career progresses faster because you show up on video and share your personal stories.
Unfortunately, just because you are willing to go the extra mile to show up on video and post content consistently doesn’t mean you’ll see the same level of success as your colleagues.
There are many reasons why this may be, such as:
- The platforms you choose
- The way you present yourself
- Opportunities you have or who are in your inner circle
So don’t compare yourself to other people in your industry. As an example, anyone who started using Tik Tok in 2019-2020 had an easier time boosting their personal brand than people who are hopping in the craze now (this is why you need to be on top of trends!).
Myth #5: It’s all about you.
Another personal brand myth: it’s about your personal experiences and opinions.
While that’s some of the mechanics behind personal branding, it’s only a tiny piece of the puzzle.
It’s also about getting personal with your ideal client. You need to be so intimately aware of your target audience’s wants and needs that you’re almost able to predict it.
Donald Miller said it best in his book StoryBrand. People want to know what’s in it for them. So when you’re sharing your personal experiences, keep in mind that you need to share them for people who want to feel heard.
When people relate to your story, they’ll be more inclined to listen to what you have to say.
When you’re giving tips, think about how it can transform your client— not how it’s changed you. This is the #1 mistake I see influencers making. They start to get “braggy” about their accomplishments, which turns people off to their personal brand.
Instead, give helpful advice to your audience with the real, authentic goal to help them find a solution.
Here are some other things about your personal brand that isn’t about you at all:
Search engine-optimized content is about finding the right keywords. And keywords, my friend, are for your audience.
When we do keyword research for our clients, we do it with their target audience in mind. For our angel investor client, we look for keywords that startup companies might be searching. Not just “how to pitch a VC” but also the more nuanced keyword searches like “how to write a one-pager.”
People search keywords to find an answer. You need to be that answer. And people are going to be more willing to click on a personal brand YouTube video about “How To Pitch To a VC” than they are a company-branded video.
That’s because they know it’s going to come with real-life experiences and examples. It will feel personal to them.
Anytime you’re trying to convince someone to buy your product or service, remember who you’re talking to.
You should personalize every piece of content you create surrounding your business as if you’re speaking to your target audience face to face. Remember to use words like “you” and avoid using all-encompassing terms like “everyone.”
Yes, we want everyone reading the blog or watching our videos to buy. However, they will be more inclined if your audience member feels like your talking to them one-on-one instead of to a room full of people.
Oh, you thought you need to create videos to show people how attractive or well-spoken you are?
Remember that nobody is paying as much attention to you as you think you are. Whatever you’re showing or explaining in your video is what your audience really cares about.
Do you have an incredible product with a unique feature? Show it off and talk about its benefits! Don’t over-explain how it works.
If you’re in the service-based industry, the context of your advice is what draws people in initially.
Naturally, your personality (and even your looks) can factor into whether or not people like you enough to listen in the first place. That’s why I also recommend dressing the part and doing a couple of trial runs before you hit that publish button.
I know that personal branding can be intimidating. Especially now that you know it takes confidence and consistently showing up for it to work.
I truly believe that personal branding will be the key to success in today’s digital market. So quit trying to hide behind that company logo and start showing up for your audience.