How to Brand and Market Yourself

July 25th, 2007   •   11 comments   

Richard Branson’s personal brand is synonymous with that of Virgin.

Was reading Steve Rubel’s post about The Golden Age of Individualism which pointed to this decade old gem by management guru Tom Peters. In Tom’s article on the “Brand Called You”, he wrote about the need to establish oneself as an authority on the matters which one is passionate about, the importance of influence and visibility, and the need to have BOTH style and substance.

In the age of social media and the democratisation of information, all of us become more important than ever before. I am sure everybody would have read or heard about Time Magazine’s Person of the Year : You. Everybody’s vote now counts more strongly than ever before in the world of business and commerce.
How does one market oneself? Can we all “Brand it like Beckham“? Well, here are some ideas for a start.

First, establish yourself as an expert or authority on a subject matter. Are you an expert on collecting stamps, a health freak or a marketing maven? If so, look for opportunities to showcase that wisdom by giving talks, writing articles, or publishing books on that area of expertise.

Second, identify and build a community. In the new world of social media, it is as much about who-you-know in addition to what-you-know. Identify like-minded folks and spread your ideas or thoughts amongst them. Don’t just be a wallflower!

Third, look for opportunities to learn and deepen your knowledge. Rome wasn’t built in a day and so will brand YOU. Find ways to sharpen the saw constantly so that you are on the cutting edge of that area – be it knitting, dog training, cooking or playing football.

Fourth, tell everybody about what you do. Don’t be shy! The more people you tell about your expertise and experience, the better. Do it through all available channels of communication – the media, Word Of Mouth, blogs, articles, wikis, publications, emails or just plain coffee shop talk in First Life. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should blow your trumpet repeatedly (which can irk people too), but you should at least be transparent about your triumphs.

Fifth, you need to be unique and different from the rest. As Tom has said, establish your own style and let it exude through every pore. Search deep inside and find out what makes your so special. Do you have a fascinating story to share whom others will be keen to listen? The more unusual your tale the better!

Sixth, and most importantly, persevere. Personal branding is a life-long affair, which follows you from cradle to grave. Our lifelong principles, values, ethics and eccentricities will establish who we are in the eyes of others. Make sure they count not just for today but the longer term.

Finally, check out this slideshare presentation on Brand Madonna. It’s pretty neat and encapsulates lessons about personal branding on one of the planet’s most recognisable stars.

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  1. Anonymous
    posted on Jul 25, 2007 at 1:12 AM

    And seventh – most importantly – is Leverage your personal brand!

    It start with products… but ultimately, we must create a platform upon which future p’Brands will flourish. Or else our p’Brand dies with us and is a fading memory in others. By nurturing future generations, we become a role model.

    Yea, sure we’re all young now.. but let’s not forget to count our gray hairs. (I know I am) 🙂

    Leverage… for example: Musicians become producers and start record labels. And so forth in our own industries/fields.

    ~ Vikram Rajan

  2. ET
    posted on Jul 25, 2007 at 8:37 AM

    Very good read.

  3. BadPup
    posted on Jul 25, 2007 at 9:52 AM

    Interesting, but point 1 on which it’s based seems kind of old-school.

    The whole “be a specialist” line seems anti-normal (we are all multifaceted) and restrictive. Thinking has moved on. See the writing of David Armano eg or Russell Davies for examples of new thinking and a passionate plea to get out of your boxes.

    The other points are universal truths tho and I don’t think agreeing or disagreeing to the first one changes them.

    Thanks, love your writing.

  4. posted on Jul 25, 2007 at 1:56 AM

    Hey Walter! Thanks for the fantastic guide!

    By the way, mind sharing some tips on how to get articles we write on our business into publications, media (like TV and radio talk shows) and newspapers? What kind of article should we be writing and what angle of approach with the media would help get our articles published/aired?

  5. Lam Chun See
    posted on Jul 25, 2007 at 12:39 PM

    Walter – I wonder if your readers notice your ability to put across your ideas in a very simple and effective way. So easy to read and grasp. You’re in the right line man!

  6. posted on Jul 25, 2007 at 2:55 PM


    Thanks for the good point there about leveraging the personal brand. I think that will come only after you have established yourself somewhat in the field that you choose. Now, we must also beware of over-leveraging – the proverbial slaying of the goose that lays golden eggs. The best approach is to build and strengthen one’s reputation while milking it slowly.

  7. posted on Jul 25, 2007 at 3:02 PM


    Thanks for the compliments.

    Aahhh… getting the media to carry a regular column or series is not that easy unless whatever you have to offer is compelling enough. First, you need to have established yourself as a though leader in that respective field. Second, you need to be able to write in both an eloquent and entertaining fashion (even for trade publications). Third, you need to show that whatever you have to offer is going to go down well with both readers and advertisers.

    The other way to get column inches is to pitch a story to the press. Now this is of course a whole school of thought in itself – from coming up with a newsy idea, writing of press releases, preparing of supporting collaterals to engaging of the relevant spokespersons.

    Perhaps you can also check out this old post on getting press coverage which I used to write. Well, that did get published on Straits Times!

  8. posted on Jul 25, 2007 at 3:03 PM


    Thanks for your support. Qing duo duo zhi jiao!

  9. posted on Jul 25, 2007 at 3:10 PM


    Thanks for the referred link and the interesting set of slides on the Fuzzy Tail. Certainly, the days of social media has resulted in people taking on multiple hats and roles, and expertise may be less distinct. However, one still needs to be reasonably good at a specific area before he or she can hope to gain some critical acclaim.

    I find that one of the dangers of becoming too much of a generalist – or a Jack of all Trades – is that people find difficulty in placing you in their minds. The human brain is still finite in its ability to accept complexity and fuzziness. We still place people into boxes somewhat.

  10. posted on Jul 25, 2007 at 3:11 PM

    chun see,

    Thanks dude. One of my chief aims in blogging it so put across different ideas and experiences in an easy to understand manner. That to me is the epitome of communication. And that’s how I earn my keep too. 😉

  11. posted on Jul 27, 2007 at 12:56 PM

    This post reflects “the usual suspects” from what I’ve seen recently on the web. Personal Branding is about driving a community built around your profession and obtaining revenue based on the investment in your brand.

    Dan Schawbel
    Personal Branding Magazine

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