Dealing with the creepiness of personal branding

creepiness of personal branding

I do a lot of executive coaching and one of the big discussion topics is accepting the creepiness of personal branding — the fact that talking about yourself in public is part of business life these days. In fact, this topic leads to an entire existential discussion about sharing, over-sharing, privacy, and “it’s nobody’s damn business!”

If you’ve followed me for a while, you probably know that I think developing a personal brand is important. It’s the only sustainable competitive advantage we have as professionals. It opens the doors of opportunity!

But beyond the individual, encouraging the people around you in your company to make a mindful effort in this direction is important because increasingly, the personal brand IS the brand!

I feel so strongly about this that I believe marketing departments should devote at least part of their resources to supporting executive branding. 

But this does not address the central issue of today. It can still feel creepy to put your self out there.

Putting creepy in perspective

ashley sumner


I recently responded to a LinkedIn post from Ashley Sumner, the founder of the Quilt social network.

Ashley is doing a great job presenting her personality to the world. One of her posts described why she felt misunderstood. And yet, she is struggling with this idea of a personal brand. She posted:

Anyone else sick of figuring out the best way to “brand” themselves? It feels inauthentic and painfully limiting. Thoughts?

Here was my response:

In your question, you are providing your own answer.

Your question is honest and vulnerable. And that’s how you “brand yourself.” Just keep doing that. Your content and thoughts will attract the right audience, an audience that will want to work for you, buy your products, and invest in you.

While it may seem a little creepy, putting yourself out there consistently is the single most important thing you can do as a founder. Nobody believes in marketing messaging (speaking as a marketing professional!). We believe each other — Our friends, our family, and even company founders.

You can’t fake authenticity!

My advice to her was simple … and difficult, too!

Creating a personal brand doesn’t mean you over-share. It doesn’t mean you have to pretend. It doesn’t mean a compromise. The personal brand just offers more of you at your best.

It takes some courage to put yourself out there, but if you want to earn attention in this world, you don’t have a choice.

To stand out, you need to be original. To be original, you have to share your story. At least part of it.

Even if it might feel a little creepy!

If you’re struggling with these feelings but want to create an effective personal brand, I can help. I have a place on my site where anybody can sign up for an hour of my time.

Keynote speaker Mark SchaeferMark Schaefer is the executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions. He is the author of some of the world’s bestselling digital marketing books and is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant.  The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world. Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.

Follow Mark on TwitterLinkedInYouTube, and Instagram. Discover his $RISE creator community.

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