Personal Branding Myths Debunked: What People Get Wrong About Personal Brands

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You’re here because you’re either considering building a personal brand, curious about why you should have one, or looking for ways to grow the one you already have.

If any of these are the case, there is something holding you back from having your ideal personal brand. Maybe you are still wrapping your head around the idea of building a personal brand in the first place (do I really want to do this?). Or perhaps personal branding sounds like something reserved for influencers and celebrities. 

You aren’t alone in that doubt. There are personal branding myths—common misconceptions about what personal brands are and who should have one—that are holding tons of people back from the amazing benefits that having their own brand offers.

Stick with us in this blog post and we will explain why these personal branding myths are just that: myths. And offer strategies and tips for overcoming them.

Personal branding myths that it’s time to dispel in this blog post:

  1. Personal Branding Isn’t for You
  2. Your Personal Brand Needs to be Everywhere
  3. Your Brand Needs to Appeal to Everyone
  4. Your Personal Brand Story Needs to “Make Sense,” of Fit a Certain Mold
  5. You Will Be Seen as Self Centered or “Salesy” if You Build a Personal Brand

Personal Branding Myth 1: Personal Branding Isn’t for You

For some people personal branding just makes sense and the benefits are obvious. Entrepreneurs use their personal brands to promote their businesses, prominent business executives use it to improve their reputations, and influencers use it to grow their followings. 

However, when you boil down the benefits of personal branding you realize there are universal advantages to having a personal brand that are helpful for nearly everyone. Things like having more connections, better job opportunities, and an audience you can leverage to make money can support almost any goal you can think of. Some people even grow personal brands in order to make new friends or to build a better dating profile. 

So the notion that a personal brand isn’t for you, or anyone else for that matter, is a total myth. Here are different examples of the value personal brands can offer people with different professions and goals to demonstrate just how diverse and broadly applicable the benefits of having a strong personal brand can be.

  • Young professionals and students can use a personal brand to demonstrate their skills and strengthen their resumes early in their careers
  • Job seekers can use their personal bands to grow their network, connect with more potential employers, and polish their professional profiles
  • Almost anyone regardless of their profession or skills can find a way to monetize their personal brand to make additional money via a side hustle, or launch a full blown business
  • Introverts can use personal brand building to gain more recognition for their expertise and expand their networks
  • Everyone from chefs to lawyers to financial and accounting professionals can benefit from having a larger audience of potential customers, employers, or peers

These examples show that anyone can enjoy the value that a personal brand delivers. And that includes you. 

How this personal brand myth was dispelled:

People with different professions, industries, and goals are all benefiting from having a personal brand.

Related: The Importance of Personal Branding

Personal Branding Myth 2: Your Personal Brand Needs to be Everywhere

You see strong examples of personal brands like Gary Vaynerchuk and they have built profiles everywhere. These creators have their own newsletters, websites, and huge followings on platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter. When you see people creating content and building audiences on a bunch of platforms it can be tempting to feel pressured to do the same. 

If you’re building a presence on LinkedIn, what about the opportunity you’re missing out on to build an audience on Instagram? Everyone is talking about TikTok —I should post there, too, right? Not necessarily. 

A marketing motto that holds true for both business brands and personal brands is that one strong marketing channel where you regularly engage followers, create content, and grow an audience is better than several channels where your effort and presence are inconsistent. That is because focused effort on one channel will lead to faster growth as your audience compounds. Momentum is harder to establish if your focus and effort is split across several channels. 

Dulma, a creator who built a strong following on TikTok and then scaled her brand across additional channels, outlines the single channel strategy in this Tweet.

Focusing on one platform and expanding later once you have an audience to leverage is a personal brand strategy that Dulma’s brand growth exemplifies.

Rather than feeling pressured to be everywhere at once, you should start with one channel and grow there. Find a channel that matches your target audience (they should use the channel and be there in large numbers) and your content creation skills (ex. Good writers can excel with newsletters, blogs, and LinkedIn). 

Once you have grown on one channel, it will be easier to scale to other channels, as you can leverage your existing audience to cross promote your new channel and bring followers with you across platforms.

How this personal brand myth was dispelled:

Building a following and creating regularly on one channel is proven to lead to personal brand growth

Related: Use our personal branding action plan to plan your personal brand channels 

Personal Branding Myth 3: Your Brand Needs to Appeal to Everyone

A mistake people often make when they are building their personal brand is trying to appeal too broadly. It’s tempting to want to grow quickly and create viral content that everyone likes. But your best bet is picking a specific audience and speaking to them directly. 

By keeping a specific audience in mind and ensuring content that you create on platforms like social media is designed to resonate with them, you will make deeper connections and receive more engagement. Creating content that is meant to appeal to several audiences at once runs the risk of being too generic, and not resonating with anyone in particular.

Many of the strongest personal brands demonstrate this singular focus. Easlo is someone we write about frequently because of the personal brand he’s been able to build. His channels and content are focused on helping business owners and creators become more productive and grow their own brands. This singular focus has enabled him to build an engaged following that keeps coming back to him for advice and information on that topic. 

Easlo has found success with his personal brand by focusing on his specific audience of creators and business owners.

This is not to say you can never speak about other topics or add additional segments to your audience. Rather, the key takeaway is that you will grow faster if you keep a primary target audience in mind for your personal brand and put the majority of your effort into creating content they will find value in and connecting with them. Just like with the singular marketing channel focus we discussed earlier, you can start with one niche and expand later as your audience and exposure grows.

How this personal brand myth was dispelled:

Many people with strong personal brands got there by focusing intently on one specific audience and providing that audience value.

Personal Branding Myth 4: Your Personal Brand Story Needs to “Make Sense,” of Fit a Certain Mold

You might feel like you have to make your public persona fit a certain mold or emulate other people in your industry. For example, business professionals like executives or lawyers might feel like they have to keep the tone of their content serious and professional in nature. Or you may feel like you have to limit yourself to a particular set of topics and hide or downplay other interests, things you are passionate about, or aspects of your personality that don’t match the stereotypical profile of someone in your profession.

While a primary focus on a particular niche topic and corresponding audience is important, as mentioned above, that is not to say you can’t discuss other topics, or create content in a style that matches your personality and communication style. 

Vaynerchuk contradicts this personal branding myth for several reasons:

  • Vaynerchuk’s primary focus is delivering marketing and business advice to professionals. He got his start doing this in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Rather than taking an overly serious tone like you may think would match that topic and audience, Vaynerchuk brought his personality fully into his brand. He speaks and creates content with energy and passion, has a casual and conversational tone, and even curses sometimes. This stood out so much in comparison to other people creating professional advice content that his brand took off, with people appreciating and relating to just how raw, human, and unpolished his content is. It felt like there was no facade.
  • Vaynerchuk mixes in content about his other hobbies and passions. This includes talking about trading cards, yard sale flipping, and sports (he loves the New York Jets football team). These blips of content about other topics resonate with certain segments of his niche, while not being too distracting to followers who come to him for professional tips and advice.

Vaynerchuk’s personal brand is proof that you don’t have to hide who you are in your personal brand, or limit yourself to stereotypes of what is expected by someone in your field. If Vaynerchuk can be a trading card flipping entrepreneur who cheers for the New York Jets and curses on social media, who says you can’t be a lawyer with a humorous personal brand, or a marketing professional who documents their fitness journey in a certain percentage of their social media content? 

Not only will being yourself and integrating your passions into your personal brand make your brand unique and relatable, it will make the process of building your brand fun and feel natural. Rather than hiding aspects of your personality, think about how your personality, natural communication style, and interests align to the attributes you’d like to have in your personal brand.

How this personal brand myth was dispelled:

Prominent personal brands exemplify how you can be yourself and integrate your passions and interests into your personal brand while still primarily focusing on your target audience and niche.

Related: Use these personal brand attributes examples to see how different personality characteristics and communication styles can help you reach your personal brand goals

Personal Branding Myth 5: You Will Be Seen as Self Centered or “Salesy” if You Build a Personal Brand

One of the fears people have when it comes to personal branding is getting comfortable with the idea of having a stronger voice, promoting your work and skills, and being a bit selfish as you pursue personal goals. Coming off as “cringy” or “salesy” is the last thing many people want to do, especially people who might be more reserved or introverted. However, there are several reasons this fear of personal branding is a myth. 

Personal branding focuses on delivering value to others

For one, the best personal brands deliver more value than they extract from their audiences. To use Vaynerchuk as an example again, he urges people to focus on giving away free value before they expect anything in return from their audience. His book “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World” discusses how people who want to build a loyal and engaged audience should focus on delivering people value in the majority of their content. Then in a small percentage of their content they can throw a “right hook,” or post something promotional like advertising a product or service. 

Giving away knowledge, advice, and free resources is a great personal brand building strategy, and it directly contradicts the myth that building a personal brand will make you look self centered or overly promotional. 

Your personal brand will serve as an inspiration

Another thing to consider is the fact that people will likely see your personal brand as an inspiration and something they should emulate rather than look down upon or be put off by. Seeing someone gain deserved recognition for their expertise, help others, become a thought leader, and earn income are initiatives that people will want to learn from, support and admire vs. feel negatively about. 

Of course, the internet is not without bad actors. And if someone does offer negative feedback about the fact that someone is growing their personal brand, it likely stems from their own negative mindset. This should not be a factor that holds you back from building an incredibly valuable career asset in the form of your brand.

How this personal brand myth was dispelled:

Personal brands that grow the most actually deliver more value than they seek out, so it is certainly false that the act of personal branding makes someone look self promotional.How self centered or salesy you come across with your personal brand is totally up to you, and will be dictated by the way you speak and the type of content you create. 

Personal Branding Myths Final Thoughts

Personal branding myths are misconceptions that you should not let hold you back from creating your own value yielding personal brand. People using these myths to psych themselves out are missing out on great opportunities, so we hope this blog post helps people dispel those myths and get past mental roadblocks on their personal branding journey. 

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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