The Devil Is In (The Tiniest) Details When Building Your Personal Brand

There are plenty of misconceptions when it comes to personal branding, but I have found one to be particularly damaging: the idea that personal branding is nothing more than how you dress and the first impression you make on an audience. While it is true that your personal appearance and the impression you have on those around you are both important, the reality is that personal branding is all about the details.  

When you create a brand, you are telling a story. It does you no good to build a "mostly strong" brand—because the details that you get wrong will undermine the brand you are trying to build. Have you ever heard a friend tell a great story, but been distracted by two or three glaring inconsistencies or downright falsehoods? No matter how compelling the story is, most people won’t be able to get past the details that are incorrect. So it is with building a brand. Below are several "little things" that many business owners get wrong...often with disastrous consequences for their brand:

1) Not staying true to their brand while dealing with individual customers.  Many of us have experienced this bait-and-switch while dealing with large businesses, such as satellite TV providers or phone companies. You know what I am talking about—the commercial portrays the business as customer oriented and exciting, but the automated phone system sends precisely the opposite message. Don’t disappoint your customers—stay true to your brand every time you interact with them. 

2) Contradicting their brand. It can be difficult to stay consistent with your branding efforts across multiple platforms. It is easy to say something in person that contradicts something you’ve written in your blog or shared on Twitter. But if this happens regularly, your market will begin to lose confidence in you and your business. Stay consistent. 

3) Trying to be everything to everyone. Many business owners, in their quest to land every customer they see, are willing to shake up their brand in order to appeal to their latest prospect. Unfortunately, while this may increase your chances of landing a client in the short term, it weakens your brand to the point where it no longer stands for anything. Understand your brand, know what it stands for, and don’t deviate!

It is easy to undermine or weaken your personal brand.  And unfortunately, doing so can invalidate the time and resources you have invested.  Make sure that you have the details right!

JW Dicks (@jwdicks) & Nick Nanton (@nicknanton) are best-selling authors who consult for small- and medium-sized businesses on how to build their business through Personality Driven Marketing, Personal Brand Positioning, Guaranteed Media, and Mining Hidden Business Assets. They offer free articles, white papers, and case studies at their Web site. Jack and Nick have been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Newsweek,, and many more media outlets.

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  • Chris Kulbaba

    Fantastic article!  As a Career Counselor, I am often reminding clients and network associates that your brand is the strategy you use to build your reputation.  I got into a good discussion with a Lawyer recently on his "blawg", who was banging the idea of branding as "stupid and moronic".  The point was you have to only consider reputation from his corner.  They missed the boat in my opinion - your brand is the process of building your reputation, and if it is weak, so too is your reputation - or what others say of you.  

    Consistent, focused energies are important to ensure the details are in place, so that there is no confusion of what your personal vision is.  Yes, we do things because they are good, helpful, or correct to do, but we also want to manage our reputation by ensuring that we are interacting with others and creating conversations, delivering value, and managing our personal and professional business.