Personal Brand Mistakes: 5 Common Personal Branding Mistakes + Tips for Avoiding Them
Personal branding is becoming an increasingly popular choice for entrepreneurs, founders and c-suite executives looking to generate more opportunities, land more clients, improve their reputation and grow their business.
And rightly so - people are willing to pay up to 13.57x more for those they consider to be elite experts, compared to the average person. (Hinge Marketing).
But so many otherwise successful entrepreneurs struggle to build strong personal brands. They just can't seem to get the right audience to listen to their message and take action. They never manage to build a truly memorable online presence. And never generate any opportunities as a result.
Why is that? What is it the best personal brands are doing - or rather, not doing - that everyone else is?
We're going to answer that in this blog as we look at the biggest personal branding mistakes to avoid.
What is personal branding?
Before we dive into some killer personal branding mistakes, what even is personal branding?
Personal branding is the deliberate process of framing your skills, experience, expertise, values and vision in the best way possible to create a desired reputation.
It's not just online reputation management, but reputation improvement, online and offline.
And it's certainly not about forging an inaccurate representation of yourself and pretending to be someone you're not - at least that's not how we do it...
Do I need a personal brand?
Short answer, absolutely.
Longer answer, it depends.
If you want to generate more opportunities for your career, grow your business, increase company valuation, win more clients or customers, charge higher prices for your work, attract the best talent to your business, retain that talent, diversify your income sources, appear in the media and never have to worry about your future career prospects ever again, then you'd absolutely benefit from having a strong personal brand.
If none of those things appeal to you, you probably don't need to build one.
When you do decide to build your own brand, make sure you avoid these 5 common personal branding mistakes:
5 Biggest personal brand mistakes to avoid
Making it all about you
This is going to sound odd, but personal branding isn't about you... Clearly it has to reflect your expertise, vision and who you are as a person, but if you make your content and brand self-obsessed, no one will follow you.
Time and time again we see ambitious entrepreneurs struggle to build lasting personal brands because they make it all about them. Some even lose work because of it.
Instead, focus your personal brand around trying help others - your target audience - achieve a specific goal or reach their dream life by creating content that guides them there.
When you stop needing the spotlight on yourself, and start shining it on other ideas, tools, or systems that can help your target audience, you'll find more people want to listen to you.
Not being consistent
This is something we've all been guilty of before, but is particularly common amongst busy c-suite executives and founders.
You start off full of motivation. You're ready to begin posting content every day, ready to network. This year is the year.
2 weeks pass and you're on track, starting to see a little momentum.
But then by week 4 it has plateaued slightly. Your motivation has worn off and your calendar is getting pretty busy with other commitments.
Your personal brand suddenly falls to the bottom of your to-do list.
You're not as motivated any more and have more important things to do.
Nearly a year passes, you realise what's happened, go back to the drawing board, and start the process again.
Make no mistake - personal branding takes commitment. Be consistent over a long period of time - 3-5+ years, not 3-5 days! That's why it can help to have a team support you in building your personal brand.
Being too broad
Your personal brand needs to have a focus.
Both in what you're saying - your message - and who you're saying it to - your target audience.
"But what if I limit the size of my audience by doing that? I've got so much to talk about?"
In reality, you'll be able to build a much larger, more engaged audience in the future if you're known by a specific group of people for a specific thing.
If you try to become known for too many things, you won't be remember for any.
Becoming a thought leader takes time and repetition, so pick a specific angle you want to take and stick to helping your defined target audience.
Sitting on the fence
This is often the biggest difference between influential thought leaders that light up our timelines and the mundane, forgettable ones that clog it up.
Most people are too afraid to get off the fence and share their true opinions, for fear that people will disagree.
So they stay on the fence and share mid-line commentary like everyone else.
Truth is, if you want to build a successful personal brand, you need to get off the fence and share your strongest views and opinions - the beliefs you'll defend to your grave. In other words, you actually have to stand for something.
When you take a side on a topic, you encourage people to react and become the centre of conversation within your industry.
This doesn't mean you need to write deliberately controversial or disrespectful content for the sake of racking up views online, and not every status update has to divide the nation, but it does mean you have to get comfortable having an opinion...
Sure - some people might disagree, but you'll have a loyal following of brand ambassadors that agree and support you.
Neglecting your 'positioning'
When most people come to build their personal brand, the excitement takes over and they rush straight to publishing content on social media around their personal interests.
The thrill of creating content and growing their brand on social media is just too appealing.
But this is a big mistake.
First you need to consider how each piece of content you write reflects on you as a person. In other words, how you are positioning yourself.
Personal branding works if, and only if, you have a clear positioning strategy to back it up.
Do you have a clearly defined target audience? A personal mission statement? A clear vision for what you want to be known for? An idea of what kind of reputation you want?
This is what truly makes a strong personal brand. The content you publish is just a vehicle for getting in front of a large audience.
Don't neglect the unsexy strategy work!
Other Common Personal Branding Mistakes
Whilst these 5 personal branding mistakes are the most common ones we see, there are a few more that could be costing you too:
Trying to grow on too many platforms
When you first start building your brand, it can be tempting to go all out.
You want a website blog, a podcast, a YouTube channel, a LinkedIn following, Twitter, Instagram - a full content marketing strategy with all the bells and whistles.
Whilst I admire the ambition, this might not be the best use of your precious time at the start. To be honest, that would probably require a whole marketing team!
When you first set out building your personal brand, it can make more sense to pick one specific channel - usually a social media platform - and grow an audience there first.
Truth is, content creation takes time. Trying to do too much in one go can overwhelm you - and you're unlikely to keep it up.
Instead, test your message on one social media channel first.
Build an engaged audience to make sure your message is resonating and then look to expand later on.
Relying on one channel
Admittedly, this might seem strange given the previous point!
But a big mistakes we see people making in personal branding is relying on one channel for all of their reach and opportunity.
From 0 - 10,000 followers, you need to focus your efforts in one place.
But once you get to around 10,000 followers, you should start considering how you can diversify your reach and build an audience you own.
Your audience on social media is out of your control - LinkedIn could restrict your profile at any time, TikTok's algorithm could peter out. It's all out of your control.
But if you have an audience consuming your blog content on your personal website, listening to your podcast or subscribed to your newsletter, you have an audience you own and control (figuratively).
Look to convert your audience from 'borrowed' to 'owned' as you grow through your personal website, podcast or newsletter.
Not engaging with your audience
Most people think they can just write a few posts, throw out some content across social media platforms and their audience will come to them.
Well, you might get a few followers this way, but if you want to grow your brand stay ahead of your competition and become a true industry leader, you need to build relationships with your target audience.
As well as creating and posting content, you should be engaging with other industry figures and your target audience, via direct messages or in the comments section of their content.
This helps to create a sense of familiarity with them, whilst encouraging them to go and engage with your content through the law of reciprocity.
Producing bang average content
This one holds a lot of people back, even those with detailed and unique industry insight.
Of course, your first tweet is not going to be as good as your 150th blog post. You have to start somewhere.
Your content is the engine of your personal brand, so if you want any sort of success you should focus on make it as effective as possible.
That means you should share value, offer opinions and insight, entertain and relate to your audience through your content, all whilst making sure you 'hook' your reader in with an attention-grabbing opening line and hold their attention with a well presented piece of content.
Think about it, you are trying to reach complete strangers, convince them to follow you and then possibly become new clients on a platform where thousands of other people are posting their own content too...
It's competitive out there, so if you want your personal brand to stand out you have to earn it.
Neglecting search results
How you show up in Google search results can make or break your personal brand.
Yet most people neglect it.
First impressions matter, particularly when it comes to your personal brand, so it's important to ensure that you can be found online, but also that what people see when they search your name reflects the brand you want to build.
When someone searches your name, does it come up with your old Facebook profile from when you were a college student? And outdated website? Or maybe a load of other people with the same name rank higher? Maybe there's nothing whatsoever? Not a good look for your brand.
Taking control of these results will be one of the best things you can do for your personal brand. The first page should reflect your online activity, with social profiles ranking, an up to date website, possibly a blog post or too and ideally some notable media features to establish social proof.
Your web presence extends far beyond your social media activity. Search results are like the business card of the 21st century and they matter for your brand.
Building a personal brand is a must for every founder, entrepreneur and c suite executive looking to grow their business, win new clients, generate more opportunities, attract top talent (and possibly even land a new job!). It's a powerful marketing strategy that will help separate you from the competition.
The possibilities that come with building your personal brand are endless, but be careful to avoid the common brand mistakes above if you want to build a powerful and profitable personal brand.