If you would have told me 15 years ago, that I would support other people in building their personal brands online and creating passion based careers and businesses I would have told you that you were dead wrong, that is just not me, I wouldn’t be able to do something like that.
A bit about me…. I am highly introverted, not a fan of the spotlight and I tend to get really uncomfortable when someone tries to label me. I am creative but soft-spoken and introspective. I love nice things but I’m just not that into a flashy or image-driven lifestyle. I appreciate the little things in life most, like taking walks with my doggie, delicious dinners, and long hot baths. In fact, I would pass up a rare invite to an exclusive social gathering most nights of the week for the chance to sport my favorite pajamas in front of the fire and chat with my husband about our dreams and visions.
So, how did someone like myself become a personal brand strategist? Isn’t personal branding all about fitting yourself into a desirable image and then screaming about it from the rooftops? (and by rooftops I mean 37 different online social platforms and anyone who happens to be sitting next to you)
Well, I say no, no, no (3 no’s mean no) and in my experience, that perception is the root of many of the myths that surround personal branding. Below are 8 of the most prevalent personal brand myths that exist and why they are false:
Myth 1: Personal Branding is Not For Introverts
A common misperception is that personal branding is for only the most sociable people. But even if you are hesitant to put yourself out there and tend to get most of your energy from spending time alone you can still build a strong personal brand. Actually, you may even have an advantage over more extroverted individuals. Introverts tend to be very self-aware, reflective, intellectual and empathic. These are all traits that can be used to your advantage to build deep relationships with the few people you interact with instead of a more superficial relationship with many.
Myth 2: Personal Branding is Narcissistic and Egotistical
It is a commonly held thought that giving time and energy to your personal brand is self-serving and a task for those looking to stroke their egos. Because of that, many people are put off by the concept. Who wants to be seen as a bragger? No one. While a powerful personal brand can certainly be a career booster, the larger impact of your personal brand efforts is service based. You have unique experiences, skills, passions, values and a unique mission. These are all intricate aspects of your personal brand and simultaneously the way that you will serve this world. Putting time and effort into your personal brand means that you are spending time adding value to the people you touch and that time investment is essential for any leader. People only benefit from a leader who has a positive personal brand. Research from Barna Group reported the following:
- 91 percent of employees who work for good leaders say they enjoy going to work each day.
- 80 percent say their work makes a positive difference in the world.
- 74 percent say they feel empowered to be a leader at work.
Your personal brand efforts may benefit you but only if you are first benefiting others.
Myth 3: Creating a Personal Brand Means Inventing a Perfect and Likeable Identity
Effective personal branding requires complete transparency and total authenticity. A personal brand is not a manufactured personality and identity that is created on paper and then falsely sold to prey on others desires. If your approach is to portray a perfect, likable personality or put on your branding mask purely to make sales or garnish attention then you will undoubtedly fail. People will see through you sooner than later and you will most likely wear yourself out trying to act in a way that is not authentic to whom you truly are. Creating a personal brand is discovering and packaging your skills, knowledge, and passions with your own authentic style then paying attention, listening and adding value to the people who can appreciate who you are and benefit from what you bring to the table. It is absolutely about being yourself, not some invented version of you that you want people to see you as.
Myth 4: Having a Personal Brand Means You Can Never Change
Many people believe that branding yourself means putting a stamp on yourself about who you are and making a promise that you will never go astray from that. They shy away from defining their personal brand because they are afraid it will limit them in some way. The reality is that we all change and grow and that is a good thing. People want to see you evolve and upgrade. When building your personal brand it is important to recognize and honor the core aspects of who you are as a foundational part of your personal brand profile but of course, there will be room to grow and those changes will be a part of your unique story that will inspire others to change and grow as well. Personal branding is not a short-term strategy but rather a lifelong endeavor of understanding and communicating your life’s work.
Myth 5: You and Your Reputation Are Your Personal Brand
People are often turned off by the concept of personal branding because they feel it turns a person into a commodity and it dehumanizes people. Or, even worse, they feel a personal brand has the potential to make a person feel that their only value is in their brand. However, proper, positive personal branding brings humanness back into work, it takes perceived flaws and makes them relatable and creates authentic connection and inspiration. Jeff Bezos famously said that “your brand is what other people say about you while you are not in the room”. This notion may be partially true, it is beneficial to be perceived positively and of course, you want people to endorse you around others. However, close colleagues, family, friends, and loved ones will always know you and the details of your life better than anyone. You are much more than your personal brand and the brand you have online will never encompass the entirety of your being and your value. It is simply a representation of your work life.
Myth 6: Your Image is Your Personal Brand
Personal branding is often thought of as your logo plus your website colors, graphics and fonts or how a person dresses, their business card or their elevator pitch. Or it is thought to be just creating social media profiles. The truth is that these are part of a brand but do not make the brand. A strong personal brand goes much deeper than what is on the surface; it encompasses value, purpose, mission and contribution all backed up by action. A personal brand is not strategically dreamt up and implemented it is authentically discovered and communicated.
Myth 7: Personal Branding is only for Famous People
If you don’t think you are successful or important enough to have a personal brand you are wrong. First of all, everyone has some kind of brand whether they try to or not. Your personal brand is what you are known for in your circle of influence whether that is simply a few co-workers or your millions of followers it still exists. Intentionally building your personal brand in a positive manner is a smart choice for anyone who wants to be a positive influence on others and create a life using their gifts and doing the things they love. It doesn’t matter how much fame or recognition you currently have, packaging your skills and passions is beneficial to anyone who wants to communicate their unique story and value to others.
Myth 8: Personal Branding is Superfluous
As I mentioned above we all have personal brands, intentional or not. Personal branding, although seemingly new, has been around for centuries and it is not going anywhere anytime soon. In our current world, where access to personal information is readily at anyone’s fingertips, clarifying and managing your personal brand is a business skill that should be consistently repeated. Personal branding is the opposite of excessive or not necessary as it is already happening whether you are aware of it or not.
So no, I don’t fit the mythical role of personal branding but the true aspects of personal branding are perfectly suited for me. My personality and quirks have been the igniting factor of many of the strengths that have led to my success and which I rely on every day to serve my clients. The personal branding process is an expansive, humanizing, insightful experience that everyone needs to have if they plan to have any kind of positive impact or legacy in their life.
Personal branding is not about creating an alter ego that is some robotic, polished version of you. It is about understanding and strengthening the authentic you and being intentional about your message and your story.
So, now I want to know, who are you and what is your story? Leave me a comment and let me know if I debunked any of your personal brand myths!