Can you become a personal brand? Guest column by Shubho Sengupta. Understand brand Wrikoo. Illustrations by Kanupriya Singh

By now, we are well into the second generation of personal branding, that is, online personal branding through digital platforms including social media.

The smarter ones not only survive but thrive. We know of many cases where the personal brand has….


Before we go any further, what’s a personal brand? Let’s define it.

We know what a brand is – Coke, Tata, Apple, Haldiram, and so on. Heck, even your 50-year-old CR Park sandesh shop is a brand.

It’s instantly recognisable, you instantly know what the product or service is like (good, bad, or something in between), and there is a strong trust factor built into the more successful brands.

So it’s the same thing basically – a set of values about a product – applied to a person.

It applies to political figures (PM), industrialists (Anand Mahindra), and entertainment figures (SRK).

The personal branding field traces its origins to the 1997 essay ‘The Brand Called You,’ by the management expert Tom Peters.

Columbia University now teaches it; Microsoft has templates for beginners; PricewaterhouseCoopers even had a Personal Branding Week sometime back, providing free online tips for college students.

But the basic principles also apply to ordinary people like you and me.

And that’s what this article is about.

MYTH #1: You must be famous to be a ‘personal brand’.

Not at all! Because just about anyone can start out as a small brand, as brands do. Even 100 fans/followers qualify you as a potential brand. Why not? Even Narendra Modi had just 100 fans someday.

MYTH #2: To become a strong personal brand, you need to create an image first.

No. A personal brand cannot be faked, spin, or fabricated. When you build your brand, you must base it on authenticity — you need to be true to what you really are and what your core values are. You have to put your best foot forward – after which there’s no going back.

MYTH #3: Personal branding is all about being famous.

Well, no! SRK is famous, but do you care what he thinks about your nutrition goals? I – and many, many thousands – would rather listen to Sandeep Mall (@SandeepMall). He practices what he preaches and operates in a high niche but highly valued community. CEOs of global companies follow him.    

MYTH #4: You can’t be a personal brand if you work in a company.

Not at all. Look at Anand Mahindra, his personal brand values add to his company brand. In fact, it’s difficult to say where one begins and the other ends. The parody account @GabbarSingh made a career out of having fun and now runs two communications outfits. 

MYTH #5: Personal Branding Takes a Lot of Time

For once, this is true. You can’t build a personal brand – or any brand – in a day. It can take years of building relationships by adding value, s-l-o-w-l-y, to your audiences’ lives. But having said that, it doesn’t take much time daily – a quick hello is fine as long as you’re adding some value.

Finally, here are some new-age branding gurus you might want to follow.

Seth Godin: An iconoclastic thinker who argues that in an increasingly competitive global economy, doing good work simply isn’t enough.

Gary Vaynerchuk: An online wine store owner turned PR/adman, Gary shoots from the hip and creates content that inspires people, as well as teaches them how to discover, establish and grow their own personal brands.

Leonard Kim was once homeless, and today is recognized as a top digital and youth marketer. He’s been called an absolute beast at personal branding with a superpower: “The ability to turn a brand from zero to hero, fast.”

Good luck!

Shubho Sengupta is a digital marketer with an analogue past. He can be found @shubhos, pontificating on food, fetishes and football. When not faffing online, he can be found at Mission Karmayogi, the capacity-building mission for civil servants.

In today’s competitive world, personal branding is not just an option, but a necessity for success. It helps you stand out, build trust, increase visibility, establish authority, and create a lasting impression. Invest in establishing and utilising your own brand to open up new doors and catapult yourself to success!

Are you ready to take your personal brand to the next level? Building a strong personal brand takes time and effort, but it is completely worthwhile! Here are some actionable steps that you can take to build a personal brand that truly represents you and helps you connect with your audience:

  1. Define Your Brand Identity: The first step in building a solid personal brand is to determine your brand identity. Think about your values, beliefs, skills, experiences, and achievements. What makes you unique? Your brand identity should reflect who you are and what you stand for. It is the foundation of your own brand and serves as the foundation for everything else.

  2. Develop Your Brand Voice: Your brand voice is the tone and style of your communication. It should be consistent across all your communication channels, including your website, social media, and email. Your brand voice should reflect your brand identity and help you connect with your audience.

  3. Create a Personal Website: A personal website is a great way to showcase your brand identity and establish your online presence. Your website should include your bio, portfolio, testimonials, and contact information. You can also use your website to share your thoughts and insights on your field.

  4. Establish Your Social Media Presence: Social media is a game-changer for personal branding. Choose relevant platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram. Create profiles that showcase your expertise and reflect your brand identity. Engage with your audience, share valuable content, and connect with influencers to build meaningful connections.

  5. Network: Networking is a critical component of personal branding. Attend industry events, connect with influencers in your field, and participate in online communities. Networking can help you establish yourself as an authority in your field and create new business or job opportunities.

  6. Create Valuable Content: Creating valuable content is a great way to establish your expertise and build your brand. This includes writing blog posts, creating videos, and sharing insights on social media. Your content should be informative, engaging, and relevant to your audience.

  7. Be Authentic: Authenticity is the key to building a strong personal brand. Be true to yourself and your brand identity. Don’t try to be someone you’re not, as this can come across as disingenuous and may harm your reputation.

  1. Be Consistent: Consistency is important when it comes to personal branding. Ensure that your brand identity, voice, and messaging are consistent across all your communication channels. This will help to establish a strong and recognizable brand identity.

  2. Monitor Your Reputation: It’s important to monitor your online reputation regularly. Keep an eye on your social media channels, online reviews, and any mentions of your name online. Respond promptly to any negative feedback and take steps to address any issues. Your reputation is a valuable asset, so make sure to protect it and maintain a positive image.

  3. Evolve Your Brand: Personal branding is not a one-time exercise. It’s important to regularly assess your brand identity and make changes as needed. As you gain new experiences and achievements, update your brand to reflect your growth and evolution.

Decoding Brand ‘Warikoo’

Ankur Warikoo is a well-known entrepreneur and influencer in India, who has built a strong personal brand over the years. Ankur Warikoo’s personal brand is built around his entrepreneurial spirit, his passion for technology, and his ability to connect with people from all walks of life. He is an active speaker, writer, and social media influencer, and has built a large following through his insights and advice on entrepreneurship, leadership, and personal development.

One of the key elements of Ankur Warikoo’s personal brand is his authenticity and reliability. He is known for being open and transparent about his own struggles and failures, and for sharing his journey as an entrepreneur and a leader. This has helped him build a strong connection with his audience, who see him as a mentor and a role model.

Another important aspect of Ankur Warikoo’s personal brand is his focus on social impact and sustainability. He is a strong advocate for social entrepreneurship and has spoken extensively about the role of business in creating positive change in society. He is also committed to sustainability and has worked to promote eco-friendly practices in his own business ventures.

Overall, Ankur Warikoo’s personal brand reflects his values of authenticity, innovation, and social responsibility. By leveraging his strengths, staying true to his values, and engaging with his audience in a meaningful way, he has built a brand that is highly respected and admired in India and beyond.

Personal branding is no longer an option in today’s competitive industry; it is a requirement. It’s a method to set yourself apart, develop your reputation, and connect with your target audience. Remember, building a personal brand is not a one-time effort. It’s an ongoing process that requires consistent effort and attention. Keep refining and optimizing your brand as you grow and evolve in your professional journey. You may build a powerful personal brand that corresponds with your values, skills, and aspirations by following the steps suggested in this newsletter. Your personal brand is your unique value proposition, and it’s up to you to make it shine.

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The first word in the phrase, “personal brand” is “personal.” Now add an “ity” to it, drop the “brand” and that’s what it really means. That’s the secret : ADAM RITCHIE

In other words, instead of focusing solely on crafting a polished and marketable image, individuals should strive to be authentic, true to themselves, and let their unique personality shine through. This way, they can build a genuine connection with their audience and create a lasting impact.