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The Internet and modern technology means that we humans have more information at our fingertips than any other civilization, ever. This is an incredible privilege—but unfortunately, we also have to be careful, because there is as often as much bad information out there as there is good. Whether it is bad information or simply a lack of knowledge, there are certain mistakes I see repeated over and over when it comes to personal branding. Today we're going to take a look at several common personal branding mistakes ... are you making any of these?

1) Inconsistency. Building a powerful brand requires a strong focus on the precise brand you are seeking to create. It is essential that you zero in on your brand—and then keep hammering it home. You can't be an expert financial planner one week and an eye-opening marketing consultant the next week. Either of those identities could make for a powerful brand—but if you are bouncing back and forth, you are not going to stand for anything.

2) Lack of focus. Don't be vague. Whatever your profession is, I'm willing to bet there are plenty of people who more or less do what you do. Simply being another generic face will not get you noticed. You need to own your niche within your market—and to do this, you need to focus like a laser on that niche. You aren't a lawyer—you are an expert legal advisor for emerging non-profit organizations, for instance.

3) Lack of benefit. The core of your personal brand can't be what you do ... the core of your brand must be what you provide to your customers. Do you see the difference? Shoppers don't buy paper towels because they love paper towels ... they buy them because they want to clean up spills! Apple does a fantastic job with this concept. Have you ever seen an Apple commercial focused primarily on the technical specifications of their products? No—because they focus on the convenience, the power, the "coolness" of their products. It's not what you do, it is the benefit you provide to your customers!

4) Lack of originality. Branding is all about differentiation. I work with my clients to help them stand out from their competitors. Of course, they can't do this without an element of uniqueness. Your brand must reflect you as a person as well as your professional identity—what makes you unique? Do you have any hobbies? Are you a huge fan of a certain TV show? Are you an obsessive sports fan? Make these traits a part of your brand! The goal is to make your brand unique and memorable—and to do this requires mixing in elements of your personality.

Are you consistent in your branding efforts? Are you focused on your niche? Is your brand about benefits? Is it original? If so, congratulations—you are well ahead of many others. If not, you still have plenty of time to make corrections! Don't make these common mistakes.

JW Dicks (@jwdicks) & Nick Nanton (@nicknanton) are best-selling authors that 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 inThe New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Newsweek,, and many more media outlets.