When it comes to branding, most of us are used to thinking about brands in terms of companies or products. Apple, Red Bull, Starbucks, McDonald’s, BMW, and hundreds of other well-known brands instantly come to my mind.
Today, however, anything (or anyone) can be a brand. This basically means that even as an individual, you can develop your own personal brand.
Before I share 5 illustrative personal brand examples that will teach you some of the best practices in personal branding, let’s first briefly define the concept of personal branding (while also differentiating between the notions of a brand and a company).
What is Personal Branding?
In a pre-digital business era, building a personal brand meant owning a bunch of business cards that you could share at various events and social gatherings. If you wanted to go the extra mile, you would hire someone to design a custom logo for you.
The development of digital technologies and social media has led personal branding to an entirely new level. With competition being fiercer than ever, individuals have to get more creative with self-promotion and personal branding in order to secure high-quality clients or customers.
In the simplest of terms, a personal brand is an image you’ve created around your own professional self. It should represent a combination of skills and experiences that are unique to you (and not your company or product).
Which leads us to the following disambiguation…
Brand vs. Company
Even though the term “brand” is often used interchangeably with the term “company”, the two are not quite the same. While a company can be defined as an organization that produces, markets and/or sells products or services, a brand represents a “personality” the company ascribes to its products.
A brand is an image you’ve created around your products and it represents the first association your customers have when thinking about your products or services. Companies can own more than one brand. Just as individuals can brand themselves – which leads us to personal branding.
Top Benefits of Personal Branding
When done properly, personal branding can lead to:
- More interviews
- Better job offers
- Influencer engagements
Why Your Personal Brand Needs a Portfolio Website
Now that we’ve examined the basic definitions, disambiguations, and benefits related to personal branding, let’s just briefly discuss the most obvious and most effective way of establishing your personal brand’s online presence – portfolio websites.
It is generally agreed upon that clothes don’t make the man. But, what’s also generally agreed upon is that online presence does make a successful individual in the modern business world. What better way to establish an online presence than a great portfolio website?
A portfolio is definitely one of the best ways to showcase your work (and no, it’s not just a simple collection of your best work samples) because it enables you to show the world who you are, what kind of work you do, how you do it, what your future career goals are, and who you really want to work with.
It’s the first impression you make in the world of online business opportunities, so you need to make sure it counts. When a potential client lands on your website, they don’t just expect to see a collection of your skills and previous work experiences – they use it to form an opinion of you, as a brand.
If you need additional inspiration for your own personal brand portfolio, we’ve created a detailed guide on what makes a great online portfolio (including 20 portfolio website examples).
When it comes to additional inspiration for how to create and maintain your own personal brand (not just the website), here are 5 well-known personal brand examples that illustrate some of the best practices in the industry.
5 Personal Brand Examples and Best Practices
1. Lewis Howes
Teaches You How to Inspire Others Using Your Own Personal Story
Once a professional athlete, now a lifestyle entrepreneur, Lewis Howes is one of the best personal brand examples out there. He went from playing football professionally, over suffering an injury, to creating a lifestyle business (and a business lifestyle) he likes.
He managed to get a fresh start and build his career from scratch, eventually becoming a New York Times bestselling author. Lewis also runs his own podcast, The School of Greatness, which has accumulated millions of downloads.
The secret to his success? Teaching others how to build a lifestyle business around what they love based on his own personal experiences. He is passionate about inspiring and helping other people achieve greatness in business and life.
Another secret to Lewis’ success? On his road to greatness, he recognized the importance of building an extensive email list. In order to build his personal brand, Lewis needed to capture more of his existing website visitors so he could help them create a business that allows them to live the life they desire. So what did he do? He used an online quiz, which helped him grow his email list by 42%.
Teaches You How to Stand Out from the Crowd
Robby Leonardi’s interactive resume is one of the most striking personal brand examples that really shows how to stand out from the crowd. By taking a look at his personal website, you can easily guess what he does for a living, without it being clearly stated anywhere.
As a graphic designer, he is able to showcase his skills by… designing his website to look like an interactive resume/video game. It’s entertaining. It’s branded. And, most importantly, it stands out from the crowd.
Robby could’ve used pre-defined templates and ready-made designs and stayed ordinary. Instead, he went for a custom-made, professional design, which made him stand out from the crowd of average graphic designers with the same portfolios.
3. Ash Ambirge
Teaches You How to Be Unf*ckwithable
Ash Ambirge of the Middle Finger Project is an author, writer, and blogger known for her strong language and uncompromising attitude that just “force” people to pay attention to what she has to say.
Let’s stop for a moment and think about Ash’s project here. She’s actually getting clients by showing them the middle finger. Branding doesn’t get much more personal than that, does it?
Ash Ambirge’s personal branding example can be a double-edged sword. Her strong performance is guaranteed to either turn people off or turn them into raving fans rooting for more. One thing is for sure, however – such attitude leaves no one indifferent.
4. Neil Patel
Teaches You to Interact With Your Audience
Recognized by the former President Barack Obama as top 100 entrepreneur under 30, Neil Patel is a world-renowned digital marketing expert. Neil is the co-founder of Quick Sprout, KISSmetrics, Crazy Egg, Hello Bar and, most importantly to our topic of personal brand examples here, Neil Patel Digital.
If you take a look at Neil Patel’s blog, you’ll notice that almost every blog post has 200+ comments. More importantly, you’ll notice that Neil replies to almost every single comment, which is something his audience really appreciates. Neil’s close interaction with his audience adds extra credibility to what he does and helps build his personal brand image.
5. Elon Musk
Teaches You That Personal Branding Often Beats Company Branding
In recent years, Elon Musk’s Tesla has become one of the most commonly mentioned car brands on social media. The reason for that isn’t lying in their top-notch advertising (in fact, they barely do any advertising at all), but in their CEO’s social media obsession. The fact is that Elon Musk just loves getting personal on social media.
Most big brand CEOs are still quite hesitant when it comes to using social media to develop a personal brand image. That’s probably because they need to take special care when posting to social media in order to avoid damaging their company’s reputation.
Elon Musk is the exception here, of course. In fact, that’s what makes him one of the best personal brand examples. I would dare say that his public popularity has contributed to the company and the brand more than any money they spent on marketing advertising.
What can you learn from this aspect of the Tesla marketing strategy? Tie a face to your brand, take a bit more personal approach, engage with your audience, and it could be all the marketing you’ll ever need.
I hope these personal brand examples have provided you with enough information and inspiration to start developing your own personal brand. In case, you’ve already been working on your personal brand image, but are not satisfied with its current state, here are some rebranding tips and tricks to get you back on track.