Common Personal Branding Mistakes: Personal Brand Mistake Examples + Tips for Avoiding Them

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At Brand Credential we talk a lot about the wonderful benefits of personal branding and offer tips, strategies, and personal brand examples to help people obtain those benefits

While we like to stay positive and focus on growth, it is also important to help people understand what NOT to do with their personal brands. 

So in this blog post we will do just that by identifying common personal branding mistakes that can prevent people from achieving their personal brand goals. That way, you not only know the positive actions you should take to develop your brand, but you also understand what to look out for and avoid on your personal branding journey. 

With that being said, let’s get a little negative! 

Personal branding mistakes we’ll teach you to avoid:

  1. Spreading Yourself Too Thin Across Multiple Marketing Channels
  2. Not Being Yourself
  3. Being Inconsistent
  4. Not Taking the Time to Complete Your Profile on Personal Brand Platforms
  5. Expecting Instant Success
  6. Not Having a Defined Target Audience

Personal Branding Mistakes Example 1: Spreading Yourself Too Thin Across Multiple Marketing Channels

A marketing motto we write about frequently that applies to both business brands and personal brands suggests that having one marketing channel where you engage followers and create content regularly is better than spreading your time and resources across several channels where you aren’t as active.

One of the common personal branding mistakes people make when they are first starting out is focusing on too many channels at once. It’s easy to get overly ambitious and to want to have big audiences on every platform. 

Instead, picking one channel where your niche target audience is active and focusing on building a following there will get you further faster.

  • Building a following on one platform and expanding to other channels later allows you to grow more quickly on other channels because you can cross promote your new channel, and bring your followers with you to the new channel. For example, if you have built a following on Twitter, you can promote your newsletter using your Twitter account and pick up subscribers
  • Social media audiences follow the law of compounding, meaning focusing on one channel for a period of time will lead to follower growth in multiples later. It will take longer to get to the phase of faster follower growth if you slow your progress by focusing on too many channels at once.
Dulma recommends people follow the path she proved works by growing on one channel and leveraging that audience to grow on other channels later.

Dulma is an entrepreneur we discuss frequently because of her impressive personal brand growth. She exemplifies the strategy of starting with one channel to fuel growth, as she started by creating content regularly on TikTok. This resulted in a 100K+ follower TikTok audience she was then able to bring with her to additional platforms. 

How to Avoid this Mistake:

Pick one channel to focus on when you are first starting your personal brand. Grow there, and then expanding your audience on other channels will be easier later.

Related: Personal Branding Action Plan - Checklist + Complete Guide for Starting Your Personal Brand

Personal Branding Mistakes Example 2: Not Being Yourself

Personal branding is the act of being intentional and strategic about the way you present yourself in an effort to showcase specific attributes and influence your reputation in the eyes of your network. However, trying to make the attributes associated with your personal brand drastically different from who you really are is a mistake.

In our blog post “What Are Personal Brand Attributes? - Definition, Overview of Key Personal Brand Attributes, and Examples,” we talk about how a person’s brand should be based on the real characteristics of their personality and their natural communication style. 

  • Trying to fake personality traits in your personal brand, or hiding your personality traits will not only be tedious and challenging to keep up over time, the facade may also be obvious to your audience
  • Constantly projecting personal brand attributes that aren’t who you really are will be tiring, and make the act of personal branding feel like a chore instead of it feeling natural and liberating 

For example, if you don’t enjoy telling jokes and are a more serious person, you don’t suddenly need to become a comedian to have a personal brand. The same goes for someone who has a casual natural communication style—suddenly creating content about serious topics and speaking in a formal tone may be challenging and not feel natural. 

In this personal branding myths blog post we discuss how some of the best personal brands break stereotypical molds, like Gary Vaynerchuk delivering professional advice in a raw, unpolished tone and communication style. 

Lawyers don’t need to have rigid and dry personal brands, or limit themselves to strictly speaking about legal advice, for example. The same goes for business professionals who could choose to weave their fitness journey and cooking hobbies into their personal brands, and speak in a casual tone if a “strictly business” tone and topic selection doesn’t match who they really are. 

How to avoid this mistake:

Your best bet for staying consistent and enabling people to relate to you is to be yourself, and make your personal brand feel natural. 

Related: 7 Personal Branding Tips to Help Grow Your Audience and Influence

Personal Branding Mistakes Example 3: Being Inconsistent

Inconsistency is among the most common personal branding mistakes. Starting out building your brand when you are excited and have motivation is easy. Consistently posting content every day, researching topics for the following week’s content, responding to DMs and comments from followers — these are the things that make the difference over time, and require discipline.

Inconsistency will impede growth, and leave followers unsure of what to expect from you as you turn up periodically with content and then disappear. Posting inconsistently on channels like LinkedIn, Instagram or TikTok will not only prevent significant follower growth, you may even lose followers that you gain as people initially like your content, and then don’t hear from you for periods of time.

In order to maintain consistency, many personal brand builders set mini goals for themselves that stack up to their long term personal brand goals. For example, if your goal is to grow a following on Twitter that you can monetize with products and services, you could set a mini goal of posting 2 Tweets per day and one Twitter thread per week as quotas to ensure you remain consistent. 

Dulma does sprints of 100 consecutive days posting content as a strategy to ensure she stays consistent with her personal brand development.

Dulma deploys this strategy with “100 day challenges” where she challenges herself to post a piece of content on her primary channel every day for 100 days. This is an example of how you can create processes and mini goals that help you to structure your personal brand growth and ensure consistency. 

Other creators commit to publishing weekly newsletters on platforms like Substack, or writing articles weekly on LinkedIn. Whichever channels you choose, you can set mini goals that keep you on track and help you avoid the personal branding mistake of inconsistency. 

How to avoid this mistake:

Set mini goals or content creation quotas to structure your content publishing on your target channel(s). 

Bonus tip: use social media automation platforms like HubSpot to schedule social posts ahead of time so you always have a consistent posting schedule 

Related: What do Most Goals for Personal Branding Have in Common? - Explanation + Personal Branding Goal Examples 

Personal Branding Mistakes Example 4: Not Taking the Time to Complete Your Profile on Personal Brand Platforms

Your profiles on platforms like social media, your newsletter, and personal website are the primary pieces of digital real estate people associate you with. Similar to the way people create an impression of you when they meet you in person, the same things happen with social media profiles. 

Say you are creating great content on Twitter and someone discovers one of your Tweets and heads to your profile. Do you want them to find a blank bio and an old group photo for your profile image, or worse yet, no profile image? 

The answer should be no, because a well designed and thoroughly completed social media profile gives off the impression that you are a trustworthy and skilled professional who is worth following. Don’t make the personal branding mistake of creating great content and forgetting to invest in filling out your profiles on every channel you are on. 

  • Complete every field that the respective platform offers for your profile. This includes a profile photo and bio where you can put your personal brand statement to let people know who you are, and what value they can expect to receive by following you.
  • Platforms like LinkedIn have additional fields you can fill out, like work experience, education, and linking projects you’ve completed to demonstrate your skills
  • Don’t skimp on visual branding. Having a professional profile photo or photo that matches your brand aesthetic and a cover image that visually communicates what your brand is about are opportunities to give your profiles a polished, professional look
Easlo’s social media profiles are not only fully complete with every field filled, but they are next level because of the way he uses those fields to communicate his brand’s visual style consistently across channels.

How to avoid this mistake:

Ensure that any profile you are creating content and building an audience on has every field completed. 

Bonus tip: use Canva’s templates and easy to use drag and drop design tools to design unique visuals to go along with your brand, like cover images and custom branded graphics to use in your posts so your feed has a consistent style

Related: Personal Branding Checklist - Essentials Every Personal Brand Needs [Free Guide + Examples]

Personal Branding Mistakes Example 5: Expecting Instant Success

One of the reasons personal branding is becoming so popular is because the people who succeed in it make it look so easy and rewarding. 

Entrepreneurs who turned their personal brands into a business and quit their 9-5, thought leaders who use their personal brand to land great jobs, and students who leave school with a massive head start on their careers are all examples that make us want similar success. But these individuals will be the first to tell you that their path to a personal brand that yields any kind of ROI was a long and challenging one that required hard work and dedication. 

  • Gary Vaynerchuk tells the story of how he published YouTube videos for years that no one viewed before his personal brand took off. 
  • Niharikaa Kaur Sodhi wrote hundreds of articles on LinkedIn and Medium before she became a top creator on those platforms. 
  • Easlo’s 200K+ Twitter followers is an impressive number, but it took him 2 full years of consistent content creation to get there.

These creators and entrepreneurs certainly prove that building a strong personal brand is possible, but they also serve as proof that it’s highly unlikely without hard work applied over a long period of time. 

Don’t make the personal branding mistake of thinking building a brand that delivers results will be easy. Publishing a few Tweets, sending a handful of newsletters, or publishing 3-4 articles are great starts. But you are highly unlikely to see the results you want from such a small sample size of content creation. Committing to investing in your personal brand long term with goals like Dulma’s 100 day content creation challenges are more realistic examples of the amount of work and time it takes to build a following for your personal brand that can yield results like customer acquisition and job opportunities.

Now this is not meant to be discouraging. Quite the opposite, as should look to this advice early on to stay motivated and not get discouraged. For example, you have to be ok with writing Tweets no one responds to or sending newsletters to a handful of subscribers for a while in order to start seeing results in the form of audience growth and brand recognition.

How to avoid this mistake:

Look at other personal brands and the work it took people to build them so you have a realistic picture of the time investment and discipline building your brand will take. Use that understanding to stay motivated and not get discouraged if you don’t see results right away.

Related: Personal Branding Tips: 5 Things Every Professional Should Have to Build Their Brand

Personal Branding Mistakes Example 6: Not Having a Defined Target Audience

Target audience selection is critical for all brands and businesses, and that includes personal brands. Making the personal branding mistake of not knowing to whom you want to speak will lead to content that doesn’t resonate with anyone, or resonates with the wrong audience. 

It will also slow your growth, as not speaking to anyone in particular will negate the network effect of joining conversations with like-minded people and tapping into their networks of people with similar interests and pain points.

This is not to say you can’t have multiple segments of your audience, or speak about multiple topics. However, you should have one primary target audience and niche topic for the best results in terms of audience growth and engagement

Easlo’s personal brand has a clearly defined target audience of fellow creators and business professionals.
  • Easlo has a clearly defined target audience of fellow creators and business professionals that he offers tangible advice to, and creates products and services for
  • Vaynerchuk got his start focused on offering marketing and business advice to business owners. He then expanded his topic focus and audience to include speaking about personal development, technology and hobbies like trading card collecting. 
  • Dulma is another example, as she became known for direct to consumer (DTC) and ecommerce brand analysis — a content topic that resonated with a target audience of ecommerce professionals and business owners. She then expanded to discussing personal brand development, personal development, and social media growth to a wider audience of creators and professionals across industries.

How to avoid this mistake:

Determine whom you want to speak to before investing heavily in personal brand development, and focus the majority of your efforts on this audience and topic. You can then expand later using your established following and brand reputation. 

Related: Personal Brand Framework: 5 Steps to Defining Your Personal Brand

Personal Branding Mistakes Final Thoughts

In this blog post we took a break from highlighting benefits, admirable personal brand examples, and the importance of personal branding to look at the other side of the coin and examine what NOT to do with your personal brand. These common personal branding mistakes can prevent growth and stand as roadblocks to achieving your personal brand goals. Be on the lookout for these mistakes as your personal brand journey unfolds, and keep the tips we offered in mind in order to overcome them.

Bonus Personal Branding Tips and Insights

About the Author

Hi, I'm Justin and I write Brand Credential.

I started Brand Credential as a resource to help share expertise from my 10-year brand building journey.

I currently serve as the VP of Marketing for a tech company where I oversee all go-to-market functions. Throughout my career I've helped companies scale revenue to millions of dollars, helped executives build personal brands, and created hundreds of pieces of content since starting to write online in 2012.

As always, thank you so much for reading. If you’d like more personal branding and marketing tips, here are more ways I can help in the meantime:

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