What It Truly Takes To Build A Successful Personal Brand

When people think of a Personal Brand, do you know what they think of?

They imagine that Instagrammer they follow, a very attractive girl, who posts photos of herself on jaw-dropping beaches beside palettes of exotic, colorful coral. Who finds herself (“Seriously, how did I get here…”) in modern mansions and glass showers in the middle of the amazon. Whose dinner plates are prepared so beautifully, you consider them art. Who takes “goofy selfies” that still look good enough to be placed on a magazine cover. And whose bare legs can be found crawling out of plush white covers on a king size bed–or, quite honestly, the side of a Bentley.

I hate to, you know, ruin the party here–but that’s not a personal brand.

That’s a celebrity.

The Internet has made the illusion of celebrity seem so easy to attain, and it’s terrifying. Terrifying for someone like me, who actually knows what it takes to build a true personal brand from the ground up. Terrifying for others who have no ambition to ever become that (and subsequently think Instagram is ruining all of our lives). And terrifying for the people who ask me, quite literally, how they can bring the above picture to light, like, ASAP.

It’s a faulty expectation all the way around.

The truth is, those “personal brands” aren’t personal. In fact, they are the complete opposite. They are simply a more frequent version of the very same thing you see on television, or in a magazine. If you think that “candid” photo of your favorite celebrity at dinner is not staged and pondered on and filtered, you are very misinformed.

Sorry. Just trying to tell you the truth.

If you want to hear what building a real personal brand is all about, and what it truly takes to create something that people deeply resonate with, then here you go.


Building a truly successful personal brand takes vulnerability. And not a lot of people are willing to be vulnerable.

That’s why everyone wants to be the model, the one that just has to post a selfie with the caption, “Love life,” and get 200,000 likes. That’s why people want the sunset, and the gorgeous car, and the king size bed in the 50th floor penthouse overlooking the city. They want these “things” to speak for them–to replace their own voice and actually share who they truly are.

Now, are there those that fall into that category? Sure. Every once in a while there is that person with the perfectly symmetrical face, and the insanely blue eyes whose every selfie is like crack to millions of social media users all over the world. They become Instagram famous for no reason at all.

That’s called the lottery.

For the other 99.9%, that isn’t a strategy. It’s a cop out.

You want to be famous for no reason.

You want everybody to love you, without you revealing anything vulnerable that would warrant that sort of response in the first place.

You want the “idea” more than you want to actually go through the process yourself.

Vulnerability is attractive.

No matter how many times I tell people this, they don’t get it until they come to the fork in the road themselves.

You have to be vulnerable. That’s why people read. That’s why people watch vlogs. That’s why people browse forums. That’s why people comment and share.

People share what resonates with them.

If you want people to resonate with you, you have to give them something real to resonate with.

Can you fake it till you make it? Sure.

Can you go rent a Ferrari, hire a few models, snap a few Instagram pics and rename yourself, “22 Year Old CEO”? You could.

But your ceiling is small, my friend. You have the depth of a kitchen sink.

That’s not what builds a true personal brand–something that stands the test of time.

All your doing is launching fireworks. And you’re going to burn out, fast.

source: inc.com BY NICOLAS COLE


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