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Does personal branding mean "making a statement?"

brand architecture personalbrand Jul 19, 2021

Do you actually want a personal brand?

Many of us want a personal brand these days. Most of us aren’t really ready for it.

The primary reason: building a personal brand means starting to conceptualize yourself as a marketable concept. Whether B2B or B2C, some of Marketing 101's foundational necessities: clarity, simplicity, and a unique angle. 

While we love simple and clear marketing for the products we consume and the services we purchase for ourselves, we often tend to resist the urge of "keeping it simple" when we are marketing ourselves (nobody really wants to be considered "basic," right?)

Going Niche

A personal brand means niche positioning - and one of the most common things I hear is a sense of resistance to "going niche." So many individuals want to build a personal brand, but resist going niche out of fear of boxing themselves into a category.

In some ways, it is understandable: what we do is often complex and does not always seem like it can be summarized or narrowed into one singular thought. We are complex beings, after all - and nobody really wants to be "one dimensional."

The thing is: unless we are willing to distill what we do into a simple concept, we confuse our audience. They more we dilute our brand with additional information, angles, topics and concepts, the weaker it becomes. When someone asks you what you do, you want to be able to reply with something succinct. Let it elicit curiosity first - and you can elaborate from there once their interest is piqued. If, instead, you are explaining and explaining as your first reply, you will lose the person’s attention, likely confusing them along the way.

Making a Statement

A personal brand also means making a statement.

If you want to build a personal brand and impact people around you, then - just as in regular life - you can’t please everyone and you can’t appeal to everyone.

Even the most-liked brands are rejected by some. Many people want a brand but reject the idea of making a clear statement, taking a position, not only being an advocate for something but also being an advocate against something by default. We resist this because we don’t want to be disliked. But, in an effort to be liked by all, we end up being loved by none.

A clear position and clear positioning, a punchy brand statement, 1-2 target audiences and 2-4 content pillars are what we need to build a clear and compelling personal brand.

The more words we add, the more audiences we target, the more content pillars we add, the less it ends up being an actual brand. We dilute it. We lose clarity. Simplicity evaporates.

A brand statement needs to be short, punchy, and catchy. It’s not about explaining, elaborating, and clarifying. The more we elaborate, the higher the chance we are confusing our audience. 

Take a second to think of the most successful product or service brands you know. Almost all of them have extremely complex business models - but their brand, what the world sees of them externally, is boiled down to an incredibly-simple, easy-to-digest concept. It needs no elaboration; as a consumer, you simply get it. Then, once pulled in, you acquire further information to make a decision on whether you will become a customer.

Building a brand carries risk: risk to alienate, risk to attract criticism,  risk to be misunderstood.

A brand makes what we stand for clear. But it’s also a statement of what we stand against.

Building a brand comes with a risk and a price. The question is:

Are you ready to pay the price for reaping the benefits?



Marina Byezhanova is the co-founder of Brand of a Leader. She has given talks across the globe & has been featured in media outlets including Forbes, Inc., Success Magazine, Yahoo!, the Financial Post & more.

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