I personally do not think there is any alchemy to personal branding. Although a presence on social networks can help, one’s “brand” is simply the output of one’s work and they way they treat other people. Today it is impossible to construct a personal brand that is not in keeping with one’s true personality and output.
The most iconic “branded CEO” was undoubtedly Steve Jobs, who will be remembered in equal measure for the ways he changed personal computing, music, and telecommunications as well as his controversial management style. Perhaps the most interesting thing about him was his understanding of his own intuition. His intuition led him to name a tech company “Apple” instead of something more conventional (“SJSW” would have been appropriate given the two founders); his intuition pushed him to do what he loved. It gave birth to the iPod, the iPhone, and investing in Pixar. As those who read the amazing Water Isaacson biography of Jobs know, a trip to India he made in his youth was life changing. As he said of the trip: “Coming back to America was, for me, much more of a cultural shock than going to India. The people in the Indian countryside don’t use their intellect like we do, they use their intuition instead and their intuition is far more developed than in the rest of the world. Intuition is a very powerful thing, more powerful than intellect, in my opinion.”
When people ask me for tips on personal branding, I often tell them to look towards celebrities who have successfully branded themselves. Below, here are three impressive figures in business with strong personal brands who serve as inspirations.
Whenever anyone asks me about branding, be it personal or professional, I tell them to look to Richard Branson. Without any formal business school training, Branson was able to intuitively craft one of the world’s most recognizable brands. Despite the myriad markets that Virgin operates in and its diversity of products and services it represents, Virgin still remains a coherent, if enormous mega-brand. As Branson himself said: “We are a company that likes to take on the giants. In too many businesses, these giants have had things their own way. We are going to have fun competing with them.”