How To Build Your Personal Brand

Develop a strategic positioning for yourself.

Cover photo: @jerrysilfwer


Are you look­ing to evolve your per­son­al brand?

We all have the tools to build our per­son­al brands with the inter­net. This means that you can take meas­ures to devel­op and strengthen your brand — wheth­er you’re a Social Media Natural or not. 

Here we go:

Step 1. Identify Your Personal Brand Assets

What do you bring to the table?

Some are smart. Some are beau­ti­ful. Some are well-spoken. Some have spe­cial skills or tal­ents. Some are cre­at­ive. Some know stuff. Some have excit­ing lives. Some have great taste. Some are inspir­ing. Some are funny. Some have grit. Some have cour­age. Some are weird. Some are bru­tally hon­est. Some are vul­ner­able. Some are just wicked charm­ing in front of a web camera.

You should fig­ure out what assets you have and write them down.

The more assets you have, the bet­ter. You don’t have to belong to the top 1% in the world for your chosen strengths, but you need to be able to pull it off in the eyes of your future audi­ence.

Also, fig­ure out if there’s any­thing you can do to devel­op fur­ther and enhance these assets — or com­bine them. By ask­ing for an audi­ence, you ask people for their par­tic­u­lar atten­tion. You need to do your part, which includes increas­ing your chances of being attract­ive to oth­er people who don’t know you.

Action: Write down your most sub­stan­tial or unique assets, and based on these assets — write down a state­ment clearly describ­ing how you will cre­ate value for a spe­cif­ic audience.

Step 2. Identify Your Core Message

Find your Core Message based on your assets and the state­ment describ­ing how you’ve decided to cre­ate value for your audience.

You need to fig­ure out what you’re about — and it must only be one thing. Maybe you want your pas­sion for food to rub off on oth­er people. Or, maybe you want to be an inspir­a­tion to female entre­pren­eurs? Whatever you choose as your sur­round mes­sage, it must be some­thing that you’re genu­inely inter­ested in.

Whenever you make some­thing pub­lic, wheth­er a pod­cast epis­ode or an inter­view with a journ­al­ist, use your Core Message to ensure that everything you do or say is aligned with your message.

If your mes­sage is that you want your pas­sion for food to rub off on oth­ers, you must­n’t pub­lish any­thing that isn’t pas­sion­ate through and through. If your mes­sage inspires female entre­pren­eurs, you must­n’t pub­lish any­thing inspirational.

Action: Identify and write down your Core Message — make it sound like your most import­ant mis­sion in life.

Step 3. Decide Your Main Output

To be per­ceived as any­thing, you need a main out­put that is also con­sist­ent. It could be vlogs, pod­casts, blog posts, social media updates, sem­inars, pub­li­city, etc. It’s okay to jump back and forth between dif­fer­ent out­put forms, but you need to pub­lish to one plat­form consistently.

Brand Consistency in Social Media = Followers sub­scribe now (today’s brand per­form­ance) on faith (tomorrow’s brand per­form­ance) via trust (yesterday’s brand per­form­ance).

For instance, con­sider run­ning a pod­cast if your assets include hav­ing a great voice, some storytelling skills, and an excit­ing life. The choice of the main out­put is not only to start build­ing an audi­ence and stick­ing to your Core Message, although that is part of it. Each type of out­put comes with a par­tic­u­lar format. And it would help if you prac­tice, prac­tice, prac­tice to find your unique tonality.

Today, most indi­vidu­als con­sidered per­son­al brands have ded­ic­ated much energy to estab­lish­ing them­selves long-term via a spe­cif­ic out­put format. Whatever main out­put you choose, I recom­mend giv­ing it no less than two years. 

Action: Choose one main out­put and stick to that format con­sist­ently for at least 1 – 2 years.

Step 4. Enhance Your Unique Quirks

We are all unique snow­flakes. However, most of us are still being put into bor­ing boxes with labels by oth­ers. Case in point: I’m a white male in the media industry; hav­ing a blog hardly makes me unique in most people’s eyes. If noth­ing else, aspir­ing per­son­al brands must make people remem­ber them.

There’s a fine line here between “inter­est­ing” or “insane” and between “cool” or “corny”. Bono from U2 can pull off wear­ing bright, yel­low-tin­ted shades every­where, but the chances are that you or I can­’t. Be care­ful. Other than that, hustle until you no longer have to intro­duce yourself.

Action: Identify and write down 3 – 5 unique quirks, allow­ing them to sur­face con­sist­ently in your chosen main output.

Step 5. Start Your Sensory Expansion

It would be best if you built a rap­port with an audi­ence. Once you start get­ting a few fol­low­ers who seem to appre­ci­ate the kind of brand you’re try­ing to estab­lish, focus on allow­ing them to get to know the real you.

How will you let your fans see your phys­ic­al appear­ance in vari­ous situ­ations? How will you let them hear your voice in a dif­fer­ent set­ting? How are you going to let them exper­i­ence your thoughts? How are you going to make them feel what you feel?

Video is a tre­mend­ously strong format for allow­ing an audi­ence to con­nect with you simply because it’s the closest thing to meet­ing someone. If you hap­pen to be a social media nat­ur­al for Youtube, con­grat­u­la­tions; your chances of suc­ceed­ing will increase.

Action: Make sure your fans know how you look and sound. Let them know what you feel and how you think and react. 

Step 6. Recruit a Social Media Crew

In the age of social media, social con­nec­tions have an amp­li­fy­ing effect. If you have a friend with sim­il­ar interests who is also try­ing to estab­lish their per­son­al brand, you could “share” your audi­ences with each oth­er. This could allow you to double the pro­gress of your efforts.

The more, the mer­ri­er, but adding people to your circle of influ­ence can be more com­plex than it seems. Your friends must, too, be sol­id and per­sist­ent brand build­ers. And, they must, just like you, from time to time sac­ri­fice their ego own ego on the altar of reci­pro­city—some­thing very few people can muster.

Action: Find 1 – 5 oth­er aspir­ing per­son­al brands with sim­il­ar interests and boost each oth­er continuously.

Step 7. Accept Your Brand Challenges

An “elec­tric­al charge” to your per­son­al brand can be com­pel­ling. You could, for instance, give your­self dif­fer­ent chal­lenges and allow your audi­ence to fol­low you on your jour­ney to meet those chal­lenges. People love stor­ies, and stor­ies need enemies and obstacles. 

From a brand-build­ing per­spect­ive, the great thing about chal­lenges is that they seem highly enga­ging before, dur­ing, and after. Before tak­ing on a chal­lenge, you invoke sup­port, sym­pathy, and respect afterwards.

Take action — it speaks louder than words.

Action: Identify and accept at least one pub­lic chal­lenge and allow your audi­ence to exper­i­ence it through you.

Signature - Jerry Silfwer - Doctor Spin

Thanks for read­ing. Please sup­port my blog by shar­ing art­icles with oth­er com­mu­nic­a­tions and mar­ket­ing pro­fes­sion­als. You might also con­sider my PR ser­vices or speak­ing engage­ments.

PR Resource: Formula for Personal Branding

Spin Academy | Online PR Courses

Doctor Spin’s Formula for Personal Branding

Here’s my action­able for­mula for per­son­al brand­ing:

Stupid Majority + Smart Minority = PR Success

What do these con­cepts mean?

Stupid Majority = a major­ity of today that will stead­ily decline into a minor­ity of tomorrow.

Smart Minority = a minor­ity of today that will grow into a new major­ity of tomorrow.

So, what do you have to do exactly?

Identify your Stupid Majority. For example, in my niche, the pub­lic rela­tions industry, there are plenty:

  • PR is all about pub­li­city and media rela­tions.”
  • Digital com­mu­nic­a­tion is too tech­nic­al for PR pro­fes­sion­als.”
  • PR pro­fes­sion­als must talk using cor­por­ate plat­it­udes.”
  • PR pro­fes­sion­als must send out shitty press releases.”
  • Working with influ­en­cers is mar­ket­ing, not PR.”
  • PR will be okay once we fig­ure out how to cal­cu­late ROI.”
  • The PR func­tion should be rep­res­en­ted at the C‑level no mat­ter what.”
  • Corporate com­mu­nic­a­tion and CSR must be ‘boomer bor­ing,’ cringe, and woke.”
  • PR pro­fes­sion­als don’t have to know any­thing about web design, art dir­ec­tion, or UIX.”
  • To work with PR, you don’t have to know any­thing about PR his­tory, aca­dem­ic research, or theories.”
  • A PR strategy is the same as a PR plan.”

And so on. 

There are plenty of Stupid Majorities (and cor­res­pond­ing Smart Minorities) every­where — as long as you’re will­ing to scratch the sur­face. To get star­ted, you must brain­storm and pro­duce a list for your niche or industry.

Give your­self 30 minutes to pro­duce such a list.

Learn more: The Formula for Personal Branding

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PR Resource: The Rebel Yell Statement

Billy Idol - The Rebel Yell Statement
The man, the myth, the rebel. (Credit: Wikimedia)
Spin Academy | Online PR Courses

Storytelling Technique: The Rebel Yell Statement

Copywriter Kevin Rogers pub­lished this simple yet effect­ive script to improve your storytelling, the Rebel Yell Statement, named after the legendary rock anthem by Billy Idol.

Here’s the Rebel Yell Statement script for you to try: 

My name is _​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​, I love _​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​ but was fed up with _​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​. So I cre­ated _​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​ that _________.

Here’s an example by Rogers on Steve Jobs:

My name is Steve, I love com­puters but was fed up with the snail’s pace of com­mer­cial tech­no­logy. So I cre­ated a user-friendly com­puter that pro­cesses inform­a­tion faster than any­thing else out there today.

Here’s the Rebel Yell Statement I wrote for this blog, Doctor Spin:

My name is Jerry, I love PR, but was fed up with “social media experts” giv­ing cli­ents bull­shit advice. So I cre­ated Doctor Spin to share action­able insights based on aca­dem­ic research, hands-on exper­i­ence, and passion.

Learn more: The Rebel Yell Statement

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PR Resource: The Follower Contract

Spin Academy | Online PR Courses

The Follower Contract

How can brands bet­ter under­stand fol­low­er engage­ment? Think of every fol­low as an invis­ible contract.

Dear Brand,

  • Yes, I’m now fol­low­ing you. Congratulations (to you).
  • I fol­lowed you based on what you’ve demon­strated in the past, so don’t be sur­prised if I stop enga­ging (or unfol­low­ing) if you do oth­er stuff.
  • You now have my per­mis­sion to provide me with the type of con­tent that first attrac­ted me to your brand.
  • I, the fol­low­er, will determ­ine any involve­ment on a future case-by-case basis.
  • My fol­low is not a ‘pay­ment’ for your past accom­plish­ments; my fol­low is an ‘advance pay­ment’ for what I expect from you in the future.
  • It would be best if you always pre­sup­posed that I’m inter­ested in myself and my friends first and then, maybe, in your brand.
  • Until we part ways, I expect you to be clear about my poten­tial involve­ment in your cause.

Best regards,
Your New Follower

Think of every single fol­low­er, fan, and sub­scriber hav­ing such an agree­ment with your brand.

Learn more: The Follower Contract

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Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at Spin Factory and KIX Communication Index. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

The Cover Photo

The cover photo isn't related to public relations; it's just a photo of mine. Think of it as a 'decorative diversion', a subtle reminder that there is more to life than strategic communication.

The cover photo has



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