The term ‘personal brand’ is thrown around an awful lot these days. You’d be forgiven for assuming it’s solely the reserve of high-flying celebrities – Kim Kardashian and DJ Khaled spring to mind. But in a world with such widespread social media proliferation, everyone to some extent is a curator of their own content; sculptors of their own online personalities.
Building a strong personal brand allows individuals to place themselves in a position of relative authority, commands loyalty from their audience and helps leave a longer lasting impression. There are some exceptional examples of personal branding to be found from individuals working in all sorts of industries.
In the digital age – where everything is tracked, logged and analysed – this human factor is so often overlooked. With so much data available, personality is often left out of the equation – it can be all too easy to focus on clicks, conversions and best practices (particularly true if you’re working with multiple clients.) And yet – conversely – every large brand automatically expects their marketing to contain a genuinely personal touch.
So let’s take a look at some of my favourite personal brands, how and why they’ve made an impression on me and what we can apply to larger-scale marketing.
Big Narstie is a Grime MC based in London. A larger than life character, he has won multiple Urban Music and MOBO Awards, released two EPs and has recently featured on Craig David’s latest single When the Baseline Drops.
Although Narstie can still be heard on radio, spotted at raves and performing at festivals all over the world, he’s become best known for his various antics as an internet personality. Most notable of these are his YouTube channel – Grime Report TV – and his hilarious hit agony aunt show, aptly named Uncle Pain.
Big Narstie is a perfect example of authenticity. Whether he’s (kind of) helping people with their personal problems, inspiring disenfranchised young people to vote or simply being a funny guy on Twitter, he doesn’t let up. Big Narstie is Big Narstie, and that’s why he’s amassed a huge, dedicated following – simply by being himself.
Key takeaway: Authenticity speaks volumes.
Hazel Wallace is a UK-based health and fitness blogger, personal trainer and doctor. In 2013, Hazel started The Food Medic, a platform to demonstrate healthy eating can be simple, enjoyable and easy to incorporate into a busy lifestyle (such as that of a medical student!).
Hazel has gone on to become a powerhouse in the “eat clean” movement, with features in numerous publications and a sponsorship deal with MuscleFood. As an idea, The Food Medic is brilliant – a strong concept is naturally a great foundation for building a personal brand.
But where Hazel excels – and others in this area do not – is in her consistency. Her photographs of food, her recipes and the advice she provides are all uniform in style, quality and frequency. The dialogue she has with her followers is also consistent – she always takes the time to reply to tweets and comments from fans.
Key takeaway: Consistency is key to building a personal brand and engaged audience.
Gary Vay-ner-chuck is – amongst other things – a businessman, marketer, angel investor, founder of Vaynermedia and viticulture expert. Based in New York, he entered the business world straight from college, where he took over his dad’s wine company and grew it from £3 million to £60 million in just five years.
In 2006 – before YouTube was generally a household name – Gary created Wine Library TV, featuring reviews, advice and general discussions, all in his straight-talking yet indignant style. The show quickly reached cult status, with interview requests for ‘the internet wine guy’ coming in left, right and centre. With his rise to fame as an internet personality he was able to foster relationships with investors and CEOs of the tech world, leading him to invest in the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. Gary soon became a household name in the world of business and marketing, with regular appearances at events such as Le Web and SXSW.
Gary is someone who has a deep understanding of his chosen subjects. He offers us an excellent example of giving value in the content he creates. A quick visit to his YouTube channel and you’ll see it’s packed with sage, current and actionable advice for entrepreneurs, business owners and marketers. The overall quality of his content is reaffirmed by so many people in the industry stealing what he puts out for free and selling it on as their own advice.
Key takeaway: Give your audience real value and they’ll keep coming back for more.
Based in the USA, Jeffrey Tucker is an Austrian School economics writer, a champion of anarcho-capitalism, a Bitcoin advocate, founder of Liberty.me and an all round jolly chap. He’s been published multiple times, speaks at liberty and economic conferences all over the world and can often be found hanging out on Facebook Live.
Jeffrey is one of my favourite examples of successful personal branding. Besides an assortment of nice suits, groovy bow ties and cool fedoras (what started out as his own fashion sense but now synonymous with the visual aspects of his brand) Jeffrey has distinguished himself as a thought leader and an expert in his field.
Economics can be a very dry subject, but Jeffery always brings it to life. He’s a strong advocate for emerging tech and often an early adopter of new products and platforms. A fantastic story teller, he makes complex theory accessible by giving it context and applying it to real life situations and current affairs. I have yet to find anyone illustrate the efficiency of free market capitalism in such an unusual yet eloquent manner.
Key takeaway: Distinguish yourself as an expert in your field.