6 Misconceptions About Personal Branding

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April 21, 2020

6 Misconceptions About Personal Branding

There is a character

especially on Facebook that goes around with sponsored ads that just irks me. First, he comes out belligerently pointing a finger in my face. At the background of the video are some exotic cars that he is showing off. Unbeknown to him, he is peddling a personal brand.

What is he selling? He sells “Mind improvement hacks” so that I can be like him and also own what he does. There is the first fail in building a personal brand—selfishness. A personal brand is not for the purpose of hoodwinking people into giving you their money so you can help them. That’s a total fail, eventually.


I must admit that the more that ad I described kept creeping into my feed, the more I got agitated. Just before I blocked the add, I got to read some comments about it. A host of people were complaining that what was promised was not what they received. You see, short-termism is a total fail strategy when it comes to personal branding.

If you wanted your personal brand to remain strong and authentic, you will have to move away from shortcuts and get rich quick promises. You will have to move away from superfluity. You will have to move away from stroking people’s greed and fear and really serve them with a heart of excellence.

The Case For A Personal Brand

In the previous article, we saw how critical the personal brand has become in this day and age. I posited that today, it is our personal brand that will count much more than our so-called qualifications or academic papers. The way things work in the modern job market has totally shifted. It is no longer the same.

As I am writing this, several countries all over the world are under some form of lockdown in order to stem the Corona Virus pandemic. That definitely has affected the way people work. Some have lost jobs and others are being forced to work from home.

Things Have Changed

Increasingly, we are re-evaluating the work environment. I think going forward, it is those people with a personal brand that will be a much viable option to worth with than the traditionally “qualified” people. Two factors make this assertion worth noting: There are fewer jobs and there are more “qualified” people. Secondly, the traditional life-time job contracts are no longer tenable.

That’s why we need to start reevaluating our options, especially in terms of building our personal brands. When we talk about personal brands, people have totally wrong misconceptions about it. I will discuss just six misconceptions briefly in this article.

The Misconceptions

  1. Brands Are For Competing

If you are building your personal brand so you can compete in the modern work world, you have already lost the plot. Competition denotes that you are doing what everyone else is doing. That’s what jobs are. A personal brand well-crafted will not see someone in the same niche as yourself as a competitor, but as a collaborator.

Why? It is simply because at the heart of a personal brand is the spirit of care and service for your audience. When you realize that that is what your fellow human is doing in the niche, you not only respect them, but you also start looking for avenues of collaborating with them. At the end of the day, it is about value addition. It is about what you are giving than it is about what you are getting.

  1. Brands Are Primarily For Selling

In Uganda, there is a restaurant chain called CJs or Café Javas. There is also another one called Java House. It is easy to confuse one from the other, but one of them has gone a step ahead that they are now distinct. Why? It is because of the personal brand they have created.

If you are creating a personal brand ostensibly so that you can sell or outsell your competitor, you are missing the gist. A personal brand is created primarily to connect with your niche and give them a difference. Your personal brand is not about how different you are from the rest, but it is about what difference you will make.

Cut, Copy and Paste

The worst thing about a personal brand is the animal I call, “me too” mentality. That mentality is all about selling. However, when you create a personal brand because you want to care and serve your audience, it becomes counterintuitive in that later on, you sell. Selling is the byproduct of a great personal brand, not the other way round.

  1. Personal Brands Are About Logos And Colors

Perhaps this is what confuses people a lot. Any time someone mentions “Personal Brand”, quite a number of people look at it from the angle of graphics, aesthetics, presentation and all. Whereas this is important, it is only a small but critical fraction of a personal brand.

Graphics and aesthetics only form the “spearhead” of your market penetration, but without the shaft of the spear, your personal brand comes crumbling down after we have been hoodwinked by your logo. In the next article, I will expound more on what’s needed to build a great personal brand.

  1. A Personal Brand Is About Marketing

Again, people wrongly think that all there is about a personal brand is how much it is marketed. In other words, people think that personal branding is only about showing out what your brand is. They forget that there are two major steps in personal branding that precede showing it.

These are knowing the brand, and owning the brand. I remember one “marketer” coming to me and telling me that he can market my podcast. I asked him to listen to it first before we can engage. He refused. He was that cocky. I did not engage him.

My personal brand is not about superfluity, it is about integrity from the get-go. It is about the value that I am offering, not about how good I am. It is not about quantity; it is about quality.

  1. Creating A Personal Brand is a One-off

That’s what comes with the mentality of marketing. When you think that you will create a brand based on logos and colors and all, you will just do that once and forget about it. A personal brand is about trust and consistency on delivering value and the wow factor to your audience.

That means that you are in this for the long haul. It is a daily process. Creation is involved, reviews are important, delivery is important and authenticity is important. Subliminally, everything we do on a daily basis communicates to what our personal brand is, and people will engage with us based on it.

  1. Personal Brands Are Fixed

This is a bit interesting to talk about because I am a purpose practitioner. I believe that purpose does not change, but the modes of delivery of that purpose can change depending on the context. Look at pastors in countries facing lockdowns!

A personal brand needs innovation. This will mostly involve in the way value will continue being added and most especially in the way I continue to differentiate myself. People get bored and used to a brand after a while, that’s why we ought to refresh ourselves. Just the fact that you deployed your personal brand does not mean you stay that way. Innovate.