Excerpt: Keep Your Personal Brand Personal

Take every opportunity your audience gives you to share value as an opportunity to simultaneously reinforce your brand.

Much has been written on the important role a personal brand plays in shaping a thought leader’s impact, both on his or her business and on their wider audience as a whole. A strong personal brand connects a face to the company, which is critical when it comes to helping people relate to (and remember) the brand itself.

A powerful personal brand can be a million-dollar business driver, and an exceptional personal brand can even segue away from a business and into a million-dollar thought leader path lined with books, speaking engagements, and the like (think Gary Vaynerchuk). There are some risks to consider when deciding if you should focus on building your personal brand over a business brand, particularly when it comes to selling a business.

If the personal brand path is right for you, there are five critical elements that set you up for success: authenticity, differentiation, consistency, community, and commitment.


The importance of staying true to your own style and beliefs can’t be stressed enough. I have met aspiring authors who have flatly stated something like, “I want to write a book to convey the importance of focusing on business culture as a profit driver.” Great! I encourage them to send me an outline and some sample chapters whenever they’re ready for a quick review. “Oh,” they’ll respond, “I’ll probably need a ghostwriter. I’m not really sure what to say.”

Hold it right there. This is a red flag that this person may not be writing authentically. That will certainly come through in the final book because it will lack passion. Even with a ghostwriter involved to pound out the words, the fundamental ideas need to come from the author. I would encourage this person to start blogging to gauge whether there’s enough content and thought leadership to support a book before making a decision to write a book that isn’t coming from the heart.

That’s an example from my world, but you get the idea. If it’s not true to who you are, it won’t be very effective.


Information clutter is rampant. Think about your own behavior when you’re taking in a website, a blog, or even search results. You’re in speed mode, as you need to be in order to slog through all of the noise. Ultimately, you want your brand to be powerful enough that people share it with others—but first, you’ve got to get them to stop and take notice. This ties into authenticity because chances are good that the differentiation you’re struggling to define is right under your nose. Whether it’s your experience, your business niche, your customer base, or your style and delivery, it can be hard to see what makes you different on your own. With the help of a branding expert, you can make sure you are clear on this right out of the gate.


Once the hard work of defining what sets you apart is done, refer back to it often and stay the course across all platforms. The messaging and visuals (headshots, colors, typeface, etc.) shouldn’t vary between your website and social media networks, for example. More important, your voice should carry across all of your content. Take every opportunity your audience gives you to share value as an opportunity to simultaneously reinforce your brand.

This is a selection from Greenleaf Book Group CEO, Tanya Hall's book Ideas, Influence, and Income. To read about the remaining 2 elements of a personal brand—Community and Commitment—input your email below to download the sample chapters.

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