Like you, I am learning the “do’s and don’ts” for personal branding as I go. I read a lot of articles on personal branding and I follow people whose personal brand I admire. In this post, I want to share some lessons, insights, and resources that you can apply to your own personal brand.

The term “personal brand” is a buzzword that can overwhelm and confuse people. What does it mean to have a personal “brand?” How do I begin to define my brand? Why do I even need a personal brand?

“Your brand is what other people say about you when you're not in the room.” Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon


Your personal brand is your story – who you are, where you came from, what you do, and why you do it. We all have a story. We tell our story to other people in many ways. It’s told through:

  • Your personal values,
  • Your leadership style,
  • What others say about you,
  • How you dress,
  • What you share online,
  • How you work with others, and more.

What’s important to know is that you are the storyteller. You control what people know about you, and how much they know about you, through the story you tell. Just remember to keep your story authentic, unique, and consistent. And you can do that by creating your personal brand!

Ready to dive a little deeper? Here are some Do’s and Don’ts of personal branding!

DON’T – Your Personal Brand Is Not…

Your personal brand is not how many Facebook friends, LinkedIn contacts, or Twitter followers you have. It’s easy to place quantity over quality – which also applies to how many social networks you use. You don’t have to be on every platform to build your personal brand. Do you know what happens when you get caught up in how many followers you have or how many Likes you get? You lose sight of fostering genuine connections and sharing your authentic self – and those are key benefits of having a personal brand in the first place!

Your personal brand is not your Instagram aesthetic. I can write a full-fledged post on this because I see many people making this mistake. Your Instagram profile – whether it is full of selfies or photos that use a VSCO filter – is not your brand. You may have a logo, use 30 hashtags, and upload high-quality photos – but this does not mean you have a brand. Those tactics will get you 1200 Instagram followers – although 80% of those might be spam and bot accounts. But if Instagram shuts down one day, where is the substance of your brand? Where is your story, your values, your vision, your portfolio, and your “loyal” 1200 followers? Instagram is an optional visual component – not the foundation – of your personal brand.

Your personal brand is not your entire portfolio of work. On your resume, do you include your babysitting job and lawn-mowing business from your teenage years? I hope not! Your resume highlights your relevant work experience. Your portfolio highlights your best work. Choose projects that show your growth, your creative process, and your strengths. And remember, your personal brand isn’t just about the awesome work that you do. Your hobbies, interests, and passions are part of who you are. Decide what you are comfortable sharing and don’t be afraid to give glimpses into what makes you, you.

Alright, so now you know what not to do when it comes to your personal brand. Here are some things you should do!

"How we live is what makes us real" quote on personal branding

DO – Your Personal Brand Is…

Your personal brand is who you are online AND offline. It’s easy to put all your effort into the impression you give online and neglect how you present yourself in the real world. There’s a quote that says, “Live in such a way that if someone spoke badly of you, no one would believe it.” You don’t want a discrepancy between your social media presence and your presence in professional settings. This is important because your personal brand is not only what you say about yourself, but what others say about you as well. Are you reliable, trustworthy, and punctual? Do you meet deadlines? Can you manage a team project? Don’t be that person who is described as, “He’s a good guy and super talented, but as a team member…”

Your personal brand is the original content, ideas, and opinions you put into the world. While sharing what other people create is great for networking, people want to see what you bring to the table. Yes you! If you are a writer, write. Write blogs, articles, lists, and case studies. If you are a videographer, make videos. Make music videos, vlogs, and documentaries. If you are public speaker, speak. Host events, attend improv events, join a Toastmasters club. Resist using the word “aspiring” to describe yourself. Be who you want to be by doing what you want to do. And then go share that with the world.

Finally, your personal brand is evolving. Do you know how many times I revised my About Me page? (90 times). I wanted to choose the right adjectives, photos, and colors to communicate who I am, what I do, and why I do what I do. A year from now, I could choose different adjectives and colors. It’s tempting to want to get your personal brand perfect. But keep in mind that your brand will change as you gain more self awareness, new experiences, and feedback. Like you, your personal brand will mature and grow stronger with time.

Those are just some of the Do’s and Don’ts of personal branding! I hope you find it helpful as you identify and create your personal brand. Need some more inspiration? I compiled a list of resources to kickstart your personal brand!

 Personal Brand Resources

START HERE with PwC’s Personal Brand Workbook.

DESIGN – How To Design Your Personal Brand Image In 10 Steps [Cheat Sheet] via Canva

WATCHFocus Your Time

READShow Your Work by Austin Kleon

BUILD – Create your portfolio, but first read “6 Steps To Creating A Knockout Online Portfolio” and “Essential Steps to Making a Killer Portfolio” via 99U

CHECK OUT –  The Instagram accounts of personal brands I admire: Chanèle McFarlaneCatriona SmartHamza Khan, Tarah Ovu Dove