Beyoncé has one. Oprah has one. Brad Pitt, Lady Gaga, and Michael Jordan do, too. No – I’m not talking about a mansion in Hollywood Hills or a yacht that ferries from The Hamptons to Palm Beach to Cannes. I’m talking about a personal brand – and while the aforesaid celebs all boast careers as distinct and diverse as Lady Gaga’s red carpet regalia, the one thing they hold in common is that their reputations precede them. In other words, they’ve all built powerful personal brands that communicate what they stand for and what they can offer to both their fans and the world at large (and they rarely err from these perceptions).

What is a personal brand?

First, let’s start with what a personal brand isn’t. A personal brand isn’t what your best friend, neighbor or great uncle thinks of you as a human. (As brand strategists our goal is to bring more humanity into business, not to turn all human interactions corporate.) Rather, it’s a conscious and intentional effort to create a public perception of who you are and what you stand for professionally. Of course, your personal life will naturally bleed into this and remain a key influence, but it shouldn’t be the focus.

Who can benefit from a personal brand?

Personal brands are certainly important for the rich and famous (and the TikTok famous), but plenty of other professionals can benefit from them, as well. This is especially true in service industries like wealth management, real estate, consulting, or personal fitness where, ultimately, the product the customer is buying is a stake in the service provider and what they can offer. In a competitive market, a personal brand can help you connect emotionally with a customer, stand out from the competition, and even charge a premium.

How does a personal brand work with a corporate brand?

If you’re in charge of the corporate brand, your first instinct might be to squelch any personal branding done by your employees for fear it could interfere with or muddle customer perceptions. While this certainly can occur (and is a real concern that will require your company to put governance in place and educate employees), personal brands can also be leveraged to to a corporate brand’s advantage. Corporate brands bring value to customers through credibility, support, and quality, but personal brands can complement that value with individuality, personal touch, and local commitment. By taking the step to help employees build personal brands that both reflect their purpose as an individual and as a steward of the organization’s brand, your corporation can tell a compelling story that brings the best of both worlds to the customer experience.

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