Want to know how to build a personal brand? Then don’t read this article.
Your personal branding statement is who you are
I remember when I was playing football in high school, after an especially hard loss, our coach took us into the locker room and gave us a quick pep talk. As I recall, we had lost in the final minutes because of an interception or fumble or something.
He stood next to the chalkboard and started writing out an equation. On the left side he had a bunch of calculations. On the right side he wrote the word “loss.” He was also a math teacher.
“The loss wasn’t because of one specific play. It’s like in math: you have two sides to the equation. Take something away from this side…” he said, erasing one of the calculations on the left. “…and you change the equation.”
“We had plenty of opportunities to win this game.”
I’m so grateful to having been exposed to that concept when I was in high school. It’s saved me a lot of headache over the years.
And let me be clear: I’m not saying that we’re in the situation we’re in because of NOT utilizing personal branding.
Like it or not, we all have a personal brand.
The difference is that some of us have an extremely CLEAR vision of who we are AND we take steps to portray that image to other people, both in real life and on the internet.
(Fun fact: This is called a personal branding statement.)
The savvy ones among us even add in some products or services that we’re selling that align with our image.
Tony Robbins – one of the best personal branding examples
I remember listening to a Tony Robbins program a long time ago and hearing another profound concept. I’m paraphrasing here somewhat, but what he said was something like:
The secret to business is to be so cool that people are willing to pay you to spend time with them.
Tony is full of good concepts. Not only that, but he’s one of the best examples of personal branding that I can think of.
And while that may be more specific to his style of business as a success coach, the same applies to all of us.
Honestly, the real issue here seems to be an issue of priorities. Most people just don’t have any interest in presenting a cool image of themselves on the internet.
Am I the only one who finds this strange?
I feel like I’ve always been interested in personal development. Sure, sometimes more than others. And I’ve gone through some dark periods in my life where I was depressed and didn’t feel like doing anything. It’s part of the human experience.
But I seem to remember that even during those dark periods, I was looking for a way out VIA self improvement.
Still.. how many people do you know who make a conscious effort to be cool? I’m not talking about wearing dark sunglasses and a leather jacket, because “cool” is relative to your peer group.
Speaking of which, picking the right friends is like fast tracking yourself to success.
The trite adage about how “you’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with” is true, despite how played out it is on social media.
- But what if you don’t have any peers?
- What if you’re socially isolated and the only people you talk to are the people who live in your house?
- Or the ones you meet on the internet?
As much as I love the freedom of being able to travel around the world at will and make money on the fly, I can honestly say that my extreme mobility has been holding me back over the years.
My peer group rotates so much that I’m not able to create any sort of stable influence on my life.
And sure, it would be great if we could all just pick some values and target them with laser-like efficiency.
But how much easier would it be if we could just pick 5 friends that live in physical proximity to us who have the same overall look, lifestyle, and blueprint as what we’re trying to achieve?
Build a personal brand by deciding who you are (actually)
And that brings me to my main point: the secret to success is CLEARLY defining your personal brand and making all of your internet-based “business cards” (i.e. social media, blogs, whatever) line up with that image.
In other words, success is unironically all about “finding yourself.”
MFW when the dumb girls who post motivational quotes on Instagram were right all along.
Actually, if we want to dig a level deeper, personal branding doesn’t need to have anything to do with finding yourself, per se. I think it was Sartre who said it, but perception is reality.
All you have to do is make other people THINK that you represent a certain archetype.
You don’t have to actually EMBODY that archetype.
To illustrate this point, I’ll tell you a quick story about a conversation I had with my personal branding coach yesterday.
A few days ago, I joined a 12 month paid coaching program that essentially teaches people everything they need to know about personal branding. The program is run by a bunch of guys who are affiliated with Real Social Dynamics, a very popular personal development company that focuses on lifestyle design and building communication skills.
So these guys know what they’re talking about.
Anyway, I had my intake call the other day with Corey Chaloff, one of the guys running the program. Part of the call was for me to ask any initial questions about personal branding.
In the past, one of the things that stopped me from further developing my personal brand comes down to two simple words: impostor syndrome.
In other words, I feel bad trying to portray a certain persona online when I’m not really that type of person.
How to create a personal brand even if you’re not a genetic specimen
For example, one of the archetypes we talked about was the “business” archetype. Since that was the one we settled on, I asked him,
“But what if I’m not already a successful businessman?”
The coach responded,
“That doesn’t matter. These people will never know that, nor do they need to. The purpose of personal branding isn’t to show ‘who you really are as a person.’ It’s like how in a movie, they don’t show you EVERYTHING. They just focus on the most interesting parts to keep the story moving forward.”
That gave me an “aha!” moment.
The coach went on, “You just want to create a funnel for people to quickly and easily understand what type of person you are.”
I guess it’s similar to how you don’t need to write your life story on a business card.
It’s just a simple reference for people to be able to quickly understand who you are, what you do, why they might want to contact you in the future, and how to contact you if they want to.
Now I get it.
So naturally, a little bit of impostor syndrome is going to be natural when it comes to personal branding.
As far as I understand, you just have to deal with it. Once you get a little success under your belt, maybe a few testimonials, then you’re golden.
Take me for example: for the past year I’ve been somewhat trying to “brand” myself as a fitness person.
Putting aside for a moment the fact that I find TALKING ABOUT fitness is boring and unstimulating, that’s been the topic of my YouTube channel and the odd blog that I’ll start (and shortly thereafter stop) here and there.
- Do I know how to train people to help them build muscle and lose fat?
- Do I know what supplements to recommend that will help them get results faster?
- Do I know what foods they should and shouldn’t be eating?
- Do I know a bunch of peripheral facts that will help them get into better health (sleep tips, etc)?
The answer to all of those questions is YES. Absolutely.
However, to this date I have yet to actually be paid in US dollars for any of those things. Well, I suppose I WAS a personal trainer back in the early 2000s when I worked for various gyms in LA. But as far as being an independent consultant for fitness, so to speak, I haven’t really gotten any traction there.
Build your personal brand with the goal of making money
Not that I’ve actually tried. Sure, it’s one thing to make a bunch of YouTube videos in an attempt to brand yourself as a fitness guy. But without an actual product or service to sell preceded by a specific call to action, how likely are you to actually get anywhere?
For example, the reason I signed up for this personal branding coaching program is because of these events that happened in the following order:
- I attended a free webinar that talked about personal branding
- The host of the webinar offered a free social media audit (call to action)
- I signed up for the audit and scheduled a call
- I attended the call (which was a sales pitch)
- The salesman pitched me on the coaching program and I agreed to sign up
Those are all specific steps that took place that lead me to sign up for this personal branding program.
Like my math teacher/football coach explained earlier, if you take one element out of the equation, then the equation will change.
For instance, if the host hadn’t offered the free social media audit, then I wouldn’t have been able to sign up and complete the rest of the steps.
I haven’t done anything like that for my fitness coaching business. Hell, I haven’t even really solidified my desire to PURSUE a coaching business!
And this is where the importance of personal branding really comes into play: it forces you to sit down and make a proper decision on who you are and what image you want to portray.
In other words, personal branding FORCES you to find yourself.
The more detail with which you find yourself, the harder set your image becomes, the more you are able to concentrate on it full force and focus on confidently spreading your message.
The WRONG way to build a personal brand
Let me give you another example..
Let’s say you have two salespeople that are selling the same product.
- The first salesperson has their pitch memorized perfectly. They have canned responses to all objections, a series of closes memorized verbatim, and know exactly who their ideal customer is.
- The second salesperson doesn’t have a pitch memorized, they just wing it. When they hear objections, they just use “common sense” to try and argue with the customer. Their closes are also based on “common sense,” tactlessly asking the customer if they want to buy and pressuring them if they show any hesitation.
Which salesperson do you think is more likely to sell more?
Obviously the first one.
Now let’s take it one step further…
Let’s say you have a THIRD salesperson.
Not only does this guy know nothing about the science of selling, but he actually doesn’t even know what product or service he’s selling. All he knows is the name of the company and that they sell things.
He has no idea who his ideal customer is, just approaches random people and tries to talk them into giving him money.
That’s the state of mind that most people exist in when creating their personal branding strategy: they don’t even know what they’re selling.
At least the second guy, weak as his sales skills may be, has a CHANCE to sell stuff here and there. He can at least get lucky.
But the third guy? He hasn’t even figured out what he’s selling yet.
How can you sell anything if you haven’t decided what to sell?
How can a business make any money if they’re not even “open for business”?
How to brand yourself like Dan Blizerian
And like I said earlier, this is perhaps the most powerful aspect of personal branding: it forces you to figure out who you are as a person before you make any money.
Tony Robbins knows who he is and knows what he’s selling.
So does Gary Vaynerchuck.
They’re so dead set on who they are that they can go full blast when “pitching” their services, which really just comes down to them existing as human beings, recording their existence, and syndicating it across as many social media platforms as possible.
In simple terms, personal branding just comes down to picking a persona [that can be monetized], creating an offer, and syndicating free content all over the internet.
But again, like we said earlier, you need to have all of the calculations in the equation for the solution to work.
You need to pick the persona first. This is non-negotiable.
So.. how do you decide how to brand yourself?
To answer this question, I’m going to tell another story from another one of the people who is running this program. Luke Krogh, aka RSD Luke, aka the “social circle game” guy.
In one of his info products (Social Circle Blueprint 1 or 2, I don’t remember which), he talks about how important “logistics” are when pulling hot girls.
In the world of pickup, “logistics” basically means anything that doesn’t have to do with the actual interpersonal communication between the PUA and the girl he’s trying to pick up.
Logistics could mean:
- the proximity of the bar to your house
- the fact she has to get up early for work tomorrow
- how she’s out with a friend that just broke up with her boyfriend (implying she’d be a bad friend if she went home with you)
In this particular example, logistics refers to the city you live in.
I’m paraphrasing here, but Luke said something like this: “If you live in Wichita and your game is an 8, then you’ll get a girl who’s a 4.”
Explanation: if you have good skills with girls but live in an area where there aren’t a lot of girls, then your success is capped at a low level.
“If you live in Dallas and your game is an 8, then you’ll get a girl who’s an 8.”
Explanation: if you have good skills with girls and live in a bustling city like Dallas, then you have the potential for higher success than in Wichita, but it’s still somewhat capped (albeit at a higher level).
He ended with saying, “And if you live in Vegas and your game is an 8. then you’ll get a girl who’s a 10.”
Explanation: if you have good skills with girls and live in Las Vegas, then not only is the success cap much higher, but the overabundance of resources (extremely beautiful women, in this case) implies a lower subjective value there than in “smaller” cities like Wichita or Dallas, meaning SUCCESS IS EASIER AND HAS A HIGHER POTENTIAL CAP.
This echos another point that Luke made in one of his other videos: gaming in higher quality environments will cause your game to SKYROCKET much faster than working on individual technical skills (like being an interesting conversationalist).
In other words, the focus of your game should not exclusively be on technical skills, but moreso on placing yourself in an environment where success is just plain old easier.
When choosing your personal brand, there are better and worse choices
Cool story bro, but what does this have to do with personal branding?
The beautiful part of this concept is that you can apply it to everything.
For example, for the past 10 years I have been selling hair straighteners at mall kiosks around the world.
While this job has taught me a ton about social dynamics, allowed me to travel the world, and introduced me to thousands of interesting people, my overall level of FINANCIAL success has been capped because of what I’ve been selling.
“If your game is an 8 and you sell hair straighteners, you’ll end up with a paycheck that’s a 4.”
Starting to come together for you now?
If we want to apply this concept to personal branding, all we have to do is rephrase the statement as follows:
“If your game is an 8 and your personal brand is ________, you’ll end up with a <social status> that’s a ______.”
While there’s currently no objective ranking system for personal brands, we can use common sense to figure out which methods of personal branding would best serve us, all things considered.
- If we choose jetsetting superstar for our personal brand, it stands to reason that our success cap is higher than if we were to choose college student.
- If we choose Vegas playboy for our personal brand, we could assume that our success cap is higher than if we were to choose furniture salesman.
- If we choose high rolling gambler for our personal brand, our success cap would look different than if we were to choose owner of a small web design company.
In other words: we’re not choosing our personal brand just for the sake of choosing it.
We’re STRATEGICALLY choosing our personal brand based on the potential benefits we’ll see from it further down the line.
Content strategies for personal branding: images, videos, or text (or all 3)
If you look closely, you’ll notice she’s actually promoting a supplement
If we break it down to a single sentence, creating a personal brand can be summed up by saying, “take cool pictures that make it clear what type of person you are and sell a product or service on which you could plausibly be an authority.”
Feel free to replace “take cool pictures” with “make videos” or “write blog posts.”
So.. what’s my personal brand? I thought initially about being a fitness person, as that’s where I have some sort of momentum.
I have a 3.2k subs on my YouTube channel that is mostly fitness oriented. I have 47k followers on IG (although a lot of them are fake). And I am not shy to create additional content.
Originally, what bothered me about creating a personal brand around fitness stuff is how shallow and simple it is.
Work out, eat healthy, and don’t binge on high sugar junk food and you’re golden.
I also don’t like the rah rah “you can do it” attitude of the fitness industry.
But I have to constantly remind myself: creating a personal brand paradoxically isn’t about me. It’s about other people.
It’s a series of virtual business cards that I present to people which will show them:
- how cool I am
- how smart I am
- how interesting my life is
- how popular I am
- what type of person I am
It will show them all these things without me ever having to actually spend any time or energy speaking to them.
After all, that’s the beauty of how personal branding fits into today’s world. We don’t need to live paycheck to paycheck anymore, struggling to sell outdated products and failing to adapt to an increasingly technology-dependent world.
Instead, we can change with the times, recognizing that these days image is more important than everything, that steak is as important as ever but the sizzle is what gets them in the door.
And if you don’t even know what type of person you are, then why would people ever think you’re so cool that they should pay you just to hang out with them?