Personal Brand; What, Why, How?

Let’s talk about personal brand.

I’ve been unintentionally studying, experimenting with, helping others build, (and digging deep into my own) personal brand for years now. At the beginning of the pandemic, I started helping people with their resumés. I then added web design. I also took on three marketing jobs for various creative entrepreneurs with very successful personal brands, and I’ve been building my own personal brand on Tik Tok, my website, and through my reach out practice.

Long story short, I’ve become extremely passionate about the concept of personal brand.

Contrasting that, I know many folks who are either a.) fearful of cultivating one for themselves, b.) unsure of what that even means, why it’s important, or how to start, or c.) against the idea all together.

I’ll be honest; I’m at that early-to-mid-but-very-excited stage of thinking about this topic in these terms, so I haven’t been able to connect the dots on many of these thoughts, ideas, and hot takes quite yet. So here they are, bullet-point style, and in no particular order.

Let’s do it.

  • It starts with intention. If your end goal for cultivating a personal brand is to get famous or become the next unethical billionaire, you’re doing it wrong (and people can sniff it out). Start from a place of purpose. What is something you can genuinely help people with? What is your message? How can you teach, serve, entertain, or inspire? What is your Why?

  • With that said, every marketer will tell you to “pick a niche”, but I believe that the beauty of a personal brand is that you really don’t have to. YOU are the niche! My social channels are all over the place right now; my Tik tok is alllll about personal development (with some biz and marketing advice thrown in), my IG is mostly about musical theatre, and in regular conversation, I’ve been introducing myself as a web designer first these days. The cool thing is that all three of these “niches” support my bigger message; to bring other’s vision to life so that the world can benefit.

  • Going off of that, a personal brand is harder to build, but easier to pivot with. Sure, someone may choose to work with me for my web design skills now, or start following me on IG because of a viral planner video I made on Tik Tok, but unlike a business brand, if I’m doing something else in 10 years, I most likely won’t have to rebuild that audience from scratch.

  • And with that, if you sell products or services, cultivating a personal brand over a business brand might actually be more beneficial. Not only is it easier to pivot as your interests pivot, but mostly, humans are more excited about connecting with, learning from, and paying other humans. Hubspot, a leading business platform for marketing and trends recently projected that human authenticity will be at the center of brand in 2021. (So if business brands are smart, they’ll start putting a face to their name!)

  • People can’t know what you believe in, what you can do, how you can help them, or how they can help you… until you put it out there. Plain and simple. Did you know that only 7% of job seekers have personal websites, but 56% of hiring managers are most impressed when they find an applicant has one? Websites allow you to be *sooooooOOOOO* much more creative–and so much more yourself— than you are “supposed” to be on a resumé. (Which… don’t even get me started on that. That’s next on my list of societal constructs to conquer.)

  • It’s highly unfortunate that whoever invented the word “brand” used it for cattle, business, and now, for personal use. They have each evolved to mean wildly different things depending on the context, but unfortunately, they are often grouped together as being one-in-the-same. If you’re reading this apprehensively and still wincing at the b-word, here’s Seth Godin’s definition of brand.

And lastly….

  • No one hated personal brands until women were doing it (and making money from it) on Instagram. I’ll just let this one simmer.

Maybe you’re open to (or excited by?) the idea of a personal brand and have no clue where or how to start. Here are some ideas.

  • Start a personal project. Do you have an idea for a blog, an instagram series, a video series? Get it going!
  • Start a business. Do you have an idea for a service-based or product-based business? Get. It. Going!
  • Get Tik Tok. I’m serious. It’s virtually *the only* way to grow on social media right now.
  • Educate others. Are you super knowledgeable about something and think others would be interested? Create a workshop, post infographics on instagram, create a youtube channel, go Live on FB…
  • Create a bomb-ass email signature. An email signature goes a long way.

Thank you for coming to my TED Talk. If you’d like to follow my personal brand journey, head on over to @skleist on Tik Tok, or @sarahkleist on IG.


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