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5 Personal Branding Myths You’ve Probably Heard (And Believed)

authenticity branding myths career development online presence personal brand personal branding self-promotion social media Jun 19, 2024

By Alanna Fairey

When I was doing my masters at Nottingham Trent University, I had a meeting with my course leader and mentor to start thinking about what my life would look like after my program was complete. At the time, I only thought about a career in public relations within the fashion industry, and I went into that meeting secretly hoping he would validate my career choice.

Which is probably why I was so shocked when he told me that he saw me thriving in the branding industry.

To be honest, I was adamantly against this career path. 

Other than the fact that I had already envisioned my life as the PR director for Alexander McQueen one day, I had such a limited understanding of what a career in branding looked like. When I heard ‘branding’, I only thought about logos and creating a visual identity, which wasn’t really in my zone of genius. 

Little did I know a year later that I would work for a personal branding agency and realize how uneducated I was about branding and everything it stands for. 

Because it certainly is about more than logos and visuals (and that remains to be a very crucial part of the equation!).

Personal branding involves finding your uniqueness, building a reputation on the things you want to be known for, and then allowing yourself to be known for them. Ultimately, the goal is to create something that conveys a message.

And I had also come to realize that I had been building my own brand for a number of years, which goes against my original belief that I wouldn’t be successful in this industry.

And I didn’t realize just how important and misunderstood personal branding really is until I started working at Brand of a Leader. 

Many myths surround the concept of what it means to build a personal brand, leading people to believe things that can actually hinder their efforts. 

Let’s unpack some of these personal branding myths, and I’ll hit you with some hard truths! 

Myth #1: Personal Branding is Only for Celebrities and Influencers

One of the most pervasive myths is that personal branding is only necessary for big-time celebrities, influencers, and public figures. In reality, personal branding is actually important for everyone, regardless of their profession or industry. Whether you’re a corporate professional, entrepreneur, freelancer, or even a student, a strong personal brand can help you stand out, showcase your expertise, and advance your career.

The Truth

Personal branding is about how you want to be perceived in your professional and personal life. It’s about highlighting your unique skills, experiences, and values. Everyone can benefit from a well-crafted personal brand, as it opens doors to new opportunities and helps build meaningful connections.

Myth #2: Personal Branding is Just Self-Promotion

Many people shy away from personal branding because they believe it’s synonymous with self-promotion and cockiness. I can’t tell you how many clients have had meetings with me and make a point to say that they don’t want to come across as cocky or full of themselves. And while promoting your achievements is a part of personal branding, it’s not the whole picture. Personal branding is more about sharing your story and providing value to others through your lived experiences.

The Truth

Effective personal branding focuses on authenticity and value. It’s about sharing your knowledge, helping others, and building trust. By providing valuable insights and engaging with your audience genuinely, you can build a strong, positive personal brand without coming across as boastful.

Myth #3: You Need to Be Active on Every Social Media Platform

Another common myth is that you need to be active on every social media platform to build a strong personal brand. This can be overwhelming and lead to burnout, especially if you’re trying to manage multiple accounts without a clear strategy.

The Truth

Quality trumps quantity when it comes to social media presence. It’s more effective to focus on one or two platforms where your target audience is most active. By creating high-quality content and engaging meaningfully on those platforms, you can build a stronger, more focused personal brand.

Myth #4: Personal Branding is a One-Time Effort

Some people believe that personal branding is a one-time task, something you set up once and then forget about. However, personal branding is an ongoing process that evolves over time as you grow, your career progresses and your brand is solidified.

The Truth

Your personal brand requires continuous attention and effort. Regularly update your online profiles, share new achievements, and consistently engage with your audience. By doing so, your personal brand remains relevant and accurately reflects who you are and what you offer.

Myth #5: Personal Branding Means Creating a Perfect Image

There’s a misconception that personal branding means presenting a flawless, idealized version of yourself. This can lead to inauthenticity, which can be spotted a mile away and will eventually backfire on you. In some cases, you can actually get cancelled for it. 

The Truth

Authenticity is key to a successful personal brand. People connect with real, relatable individuals, not with polished facades. Embrace your imperfections and share your real experiences, including your challenges and failures. This authenticity builds trust and makes your personal brand more compelling and relatable. 

Once you’ve debunked these common myths, you can approach personal branding with a clear, strategic mindset. 

Just remember: personal branding is an ongoing process that involves radical authenticity, providing value to your audience, and always evolving and growing. 

And by the way, my course leader was right: I absolutely LOVE working in personal branding. 

Alanna Fairey is a Client Engagement Specialist at Brand of a Leader. She has a diverse background in fashion communications, branding, and writing. Connect with Alanna here.

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