Are you considering building a personal brand? Or maybe you’re trying to decide on whether to build a personal brand vs a brand name?

In this post, I will discuss the pros and cons, as well as give some insight into which you should choose. I will also share why I’ve decided to switch to a personal brand.

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Why You Should Build a Brand

I’m somewhat of an Apple fanboy. Yes, I have a PC that I use for live streams. But when it comes to everything else, in our home we have an MacBook pro, two iPads, Apple watch, iPhone 11s Max, two Apple TV’s, HomePod and AirPods pros. I’m also a subscriber to Apple music and iCloud.

Man, now that I’ve typed that out, I just realized that I might have a little bit of a problem, lol. I’ve drunk the “Apple Juice”. I just love the brand, and if they come out with something new (i.e. the HomePod mini), I almost always think of ways to justify buying it.

If you look up the definition of a brand, here’s what you’ll find:

“A brand is a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.”

Whenever you see a pair of shoes and it has a swoosh symbol, you think of Nike – because that’s the brand they built.

Successful companies have powerful branding.

If you drive by my home at a specific time on certain days and see a box with a little graphic that looks like a smile, you will immediately know that I’m one of those people that shop on Amazon (a.k.a. our overlord).

These companies have established brands, and that is powerful. But a brand goes beyond just a symbol, name or design. A brand also has a personality. And when a company does a great job at building a brand that people love (like Apple), there’s a sense of loyalty that comes along with that.

There’s something significant that we can learn from these big companies. They were intentional about building their brand in a way that’s memorable – one that (for better or worse) brings loyalty. That’s exactly what you want for your business. You want people to remember you, and even more – to seek you out.

What is a Personal Brand

A personal brand is a brand that is tied to a person. Some examples of very well known personal brands are Oprah, Will Smith, and Lady Gaga. You read those names and instantly knew who they were. Why? Because they have built very successful personal brands. In the case of Oprah, her personal brand is so well known that I didn’t even have to include her last name.

In the online marketing space, there are people like Chris Ducker, Lewis Howes, Marie Forleo and Amy Porterfield. These individuals have built strong personal brands with loyal followers.

The concept of a personal brand

Some well-known personal brands.

When it comes to my online business, I’ve stayed away from building a personal brand for the longest while. I used to think it was a bit self-centered. I always said things like:

  • I don’t want to be famous.
  • My business isn’t about me. It’s about the people I’m trying to serve.
  • I don’t want to seem self-centered.

And for those reasons, I didn’t want to build a personal brand. But then I realized a few things.

As I built my business, people started following me because they were getting to know, like, and trust me. I’d go to events and people would come up to talk to me not because I was the “blogging expert”.

They were coming to talk to me because, in some way, they felt connected with me. Some had been listening to my podcast for a while and would come to ask me questions about my kids.

And the more I shared what I was doing, including the things I struggled with, the stronger that connection grew.

And as my business grew, I started realizing that it was growing because of the connections I was establishing.

With connection comes opportunity. And the world of opportunities started to unfold as a result of those relationships.

The downsides of a personal brand

Whenever someone asks me whether or not they should build a personal brand, I’ve always listed the following as downsides:

  1. You are creating a brand that you aren’t able to sell, or that is much harder to sell. If your goal is to have an exit strategy, this may not be the best route for you.
  2. It makes it harder to include others in your content if your name is in it. If you’re planning on having a multi-author blog (for example), you might want to consider something else.
  3. It takes the focus off the audience and places it on you.

But over time, I’ve come to see that these are all limiting beliefs and I no longer use them as excuses. While yes – it’s MUCH harder for me to sell, I would never want to sell my main platform.

I can build parts of my business under the brand, and those individual parts can be sellable. But I don’t have any plans on no longer being an entrepreneur that shows up in service to others. That will remain a permanent fixture, so I will need a permanent overarching brand.

In terms of including others in my content, there are many examples of people who have done that successfully under a personal brand – i.e. Dave Ramsey, Tony Robbins, and Leslie Samuel (projecting into the future 😉 )

My struggle with personal branding

For the bulk of my life, I’ve struggled with something. I tend to make myself shrink so as not to make others feel bad about themselves. There’s something in me that feels like if I show what I’m capable of, someone else will feel “less than”.

I hate the idea of making anyone feel that way so much, that I will put myself down to try to avoid even the possibility of that happening. I hate making other people feel bad. And somehow, I managed to convince myself that if I shine too bright, I will cause others to feel dim.

This is my struggle, and it’s a big one.

A paradigm shift

I love personal branding — people connect with people NOT businesses.

Until recently, I would not have thought to build a personal brand. Now, I LOVE the concept of a personal brand. Why? Because people connect with people – not businesses.

And the reality is – my business will grow in proportion to the strength of the relationships I establish with the people I connect with. The more I connect with YOU, and other people like you, the more I’m able to grow.

Also, the more I show who I really am, the more I connect with the kind of people who will resonate with my message. In essence, my personal brand really isn’t about me. It’s about me connecting with you.

It’s a constant reminder to share myself in an authentic way, so that I can attract the right people. So I’ve decided to FULLY embrace the concept of a personal brand. This is why this blog will no longer be called “Become a Blogger”. Instead, it will be “I am Leslie Samuel” from now on.

And my podcast will be called – the Leslie Samuel Show.

What this shift allows

This shift pushes me to share what I’m experiencing and learning as I’m experiencing and learning new things. I started out as a blogger. However, that has shifted over time to where I’ve embraced other forms of content creation.

I have my podcast and my YouTube channel. And I’ve learned a lot about podcasting and growing on YouTube. I’ve worked with bloggers, podcasters, YouTubers, and digital marketers to them grow their businesses.

Through everything I’ve done, I’ve come to realize that there’s one common thing they all share. They are all CREATORS. You are a CREATOR. I am a CREATOR.

We take ideas and turn them into things . . .

Things that can have a positive impact on the world.

Things that can help us build successful businesses.

Things that can free us up to spend more time with our families, while still being successful.

This change encourages me to share more of those ideas.

Even more than that, I’ve started speaking a lot more. This will allow me to highlight what I’m learning about becoming a better public speaker.

And more recently, I’ve shifted my entire business model to focus on Coaching – one-on-one coaching as well as group coaching. This shift frees my mind to be able to share all of the above with you.

My survey results

I conducted a survey a few weeks ago because I wanted to find out what you were struggling with, and how I can best help you. If you haven’t yet completed that survey, you can do so here.

In that survey, I learned a lot of things that will help guide how I create content in the future, as well as the kind of content I create.

Insight: The vast majority of my audience (78.9%) would like my podcast episodes to be 30 minutes or less.

Decision: I will keep my podcast episodes to 30 minutes (with rare exceptions).

Insight: The kind of content most people want from me are video tutorials, PDF guides and podcast episodes.

Decision: That’s the kind of content I will start creating more of. I will post new videos every Monday. My assistant is already creating PDF guides for the things we do in the future. And my podcast is back on schedule. A new episode will go live every Wednesday at 6 am EST.

Insight: The three most requested topics are scaling your business, email marketing, and organic social media marketing.

Decision: I sat down last week and created an editorial calendar that emphasizes those three topics.

Insight: The top three social media platforms you want to learn about are Instagram, YouTube and Facebook. I’m not sure why, but I was surprised to see that Instagram was number 1.

Decision: I’m going to be bringing in some Instagram experts to cover that topic in depth. Since I’m already focused on growing my YouTube channel, it will be easy for me to share what I’m learning. And Facebook is the platform that I use most. So I will definitely be sharing more about it.

Insight: 32% of you are making money with your online business. This number is higher than I’ve seen in the past, which is very encouraging. And of those that are making money, 71.4% are making more than $100/month. And 39.2% of you are making over $1,000/month. That’s actually quite awesome.

Decision: I really need to focus on giving concrete steps for growing your income. I will be emphasizing that more in my content.

My Coaching

The focus of my income-generating activities is on coaching. I’ve shifted the bulk of my revenue to client-based revenue from one-on-one clients. However, I’m launching a group coaching experience that begins next week.

If you’re a creator who is having some success with your business but want to step it up a notch, let’s have a conversation. I’d love to be able to coach you along with a group of creators who are doing good stuff.

My goal is to challenge you and push you to step outside your comfort zone to create the future you want to see. If you are interested in exploring this further, reach out to me.


INFOGRAPHIC: 379 Personal Branding: Why I’m Embracing a New Direction

About the Author Leslie Samuel

Leslie Samuel a business coach for high-performing entrepreneurs. As the host of the Leslie Samuel Show, he teaches how to build an online business. "Changing the world one post at a time” is the mission he strives towards. As a former university professor, he has a passion for education. He's the founder of Interactive Biology, a blog and YouTube channel dedicated to making biology fun for students and teachers. As the head of training for the Social Media Marketing Society, he helps social media marketers get the training they need to stay on the leading edge of social media.

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