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How to build your personal brand

Looking to evolve your personal brand?

With the internet, we all have the tools we need to build our personal brands. This means that you, no matter if you’re a social media natural or not, can take measures to develop and strengthen your own personal brand.

But how?

Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1. Develop your brand assets

Some are smart. Some are beautiful. Some are well-spoken. Some have special skills or talents. Some are creative. Some have knowledge. Some have exciting lives. Some have great taste. Some are inspiring. Some are funny. Some have grit. Some have courage. Some are weird. Some are brutally honest. Some are vulnerable. Some are just wicked charming in front of a web camera.

You should figure out what assets you have and write them down.

The more assets you have, the better. You don’t have to belong to the top 1% in the world for your chosen strengths, but you need to be able to pull it off in the eyes of your future audience.

Also, figure out if there’s anything you can do to develop and enhance these assets further — or combine them. By asking for an audience, you literally ask people for their precious attention. You need to do your part and that includes increasing your chances of being interesting to other people who don’t know you.

Action: Write down your 3-5 best assets and develop them further.

Step 2. Identify your surround message

You need to figure out what you’re about — and it needs to be one thing only. Maybe you want your passion for food to rub off on other people? Or, maybe you want to be an inspiration to female entrepreneurs? Whatever you choose as your surround message, it must be something that you’re genuinely interested in.

Whenever you make something public, whether it’s a podcast episode or an interview with a journalist, use your surround message to make sure that everything you do or say is aligned with your message.

If your message is that you want your passion for food to rub off on others, then you mustn’t publish anything that isn’t passionate through and through. If your message is to inspire female entrepreneurs, you mustn’t publish anything that isn’t inspirational.

Action: Identify and write down your surround message — make it sound like your most important mission in life.

Step 3. Decide your main output

To be perceived as anything at all, you need a main output that is also consistent. It could be vlogs, podcasts, blog posts, social media updates, seminars, publicity, etc. It’s okay to jump back and forth between different forms of output, but you need to consistently leverage one in particular.

For instance, if your assets include having a great voice, some storytelling skills, and an exciting life — maybe consider running a podcast? The choice of a main output is not only to start building an audience and sticking to your surround message, although that is part of it. Each and every type of output comes with a certain format. And you must practice, practice, practice to find your unique tonality.

Most individuals who today are considered personal brands have dedicated lots of energy on establishing themselves long-term via a specific output format1. Whatever main output you choose, I would recommend giving it no less than two years.

Action: Choose one main output and stick to that format consistently for at least 1-2 years.

Step 4. Enhance your unique quirks

We are all unique snowflakes, however, most of us are even still being put into boring boxes with labels by others. Case in point: I’m a white male in the media industry; having a blog hardly makes me special in the eyes of most people. If nothing else, aspiring personal brands must be able to make people remember them.

There’s a fine line here between “interesting” or “insane” and between “cool” or “corny”. Bono from U2 can pull off wearing bright, yellow-tinted shades everywhere, but chances are that you or I can’t. Be careful. Other than that, just hustle until you no longer have to introduce yourself.

Action: Identify and write down 3-5 unique quirks and allow them to surface consistently in whatever main output you’ve chosen.

Step 5. Start your sensory expansion

To build report with an audience, you must allow them to get to know you. Once you start getting a few followers who seems to appreciate the kind of brand you’re trying to establish, focus on allowing them to get to know the real you.

How are you going to let your fans see what you physically look like in various situations? How are you going to let them hear the sound of your voice in different setting? How are you going to let them experience your thoughts? How are you going to make them feel what you feel?

Video is a tremendously strong format for allowing an audience to connect with you, simple because it’s the closest thing to actually meeting someone. If you happen to be a social media natural when it comes to Youtube then congratulations, your chances of succeeding surely increased.

Action: Make sure your fans know what you look and sound like. Let them know what you feel, how you think, and how you react.

Step 6. Recruit your crew

In the age of social media, social connections have an amplifying effect. If you have a friend with similar interests who is also trying to establish his or her personal brand, you could “share” your audiences with each other. This could allow you to double the progress of your efforts.

The more the merrier, but adding people to your circle of influence can be more difficult than it seems. Your friends must, too, be strong and persistent brand builders. And, they must, just like you, from time to time sacrifice their ego own ego on the altar of reciprocity — something very few people can muster.

Action: Find 1-5 other aspiring personal brands with similar interests and boost each other continuously.

Step 7. Accept your brand challenges

An “electrical charge” to your personal brand can be immensely powerful. You could for instance give yourself different challenges and allow your audience to follow you on your journey to meet those challenges. People love stories and stories need enemies and obstacles.

From a brand-building perspective, the great thing about challenges is that they seem to be highly engaging before, during, and after. Before taking on a challenge you invoke support, sympathy during, and respect afterwards.

Take action — it speaks louder than words.

Action: Identify and accept at least one public challenge and allow your audience to experience it through you.

Useful resources

49 personality archetypes

I recommend How the World Sees You by Sally Hogshead, in which she includes an advantage assessment matrix with 49 Personality Archetypes to help you clarify your personal brand.

The Rebel Yell Statement

You can also try this simple script:

In a guest post on Ryan Lee, Why Rebels get Rich, copywriter Kevin Rogers published this simple yet effective script, The Rebel Yell Statement, named after the legendary rock anthem by Billy Idol:

My name is _________, I love _________ but was fed up with _________. So I created _________ that _________.

For example:

My name is Steve Jobs, I love computers but was fed up with the snail’s pace of commercial technology. So I created a user-friendly computer that processes information faster than anything else out there today.


My name is Richard Branson, I love to travel but was fed up with lousy, expensive and unreliable airline service. So I created an airline with competitive fairs that arrive on time and treats every passenger with first-class service.”

The follower contract

The Follower Contract

Dear brand,

  • Yes, I’m now following you. Congratulations (to you).
  • I followed you based on what you’ve demonstrated in the past, so don’t be surprised if I’ll stop engaging (or unfollow) if you do other stuff.
  • You now have my permission to provide me with the type of content that first attracted me to your brand.
  • Any potential involvement on my part will be determined by me, the follower, on a future case-by-case basis.
  • My follow is not a ‘payment’ for your past accomplishments; my follow is an ‘advance payment’ for what I’m expecting from you in the future.
  • You should always presuppose that I’m first and foremost interested in myself and my friends, and then, maybe, in your brand.
  • Until we part ways, I expect you to be crystal clear about my potential involvement in your cause.

    Best regards,
    Your new follower

    Learn more about follower contracts.

Photo by Austin Neill on Unsplash.


  1. See also The Follower Contract.


Avatar of Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer, aka Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at KIX Communication Index and Spin Factory. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

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