What is personal branding? Do you even need it? I don’t believe in personal branding, but the fact of the matter is that to be successful, we do need to make ourselves marketable, whether we like that fact or not!

As a self-confessed critic of self-branding, I decided to embark on a mission to examine what the elements of a good personal online brand are. As part of this, I have taken a look at some of the most likeable, interesting, entertaining and inspiring personal brands on the internet, in an attempt to understand what makes them so successful. Here is what I have discovered.

YOU HAVE TO… know yourself and not be afraid to express it!

For even a modicum of success as a personal brand, you need to be able to understand yourself and express it in a way that is both interesting and entertaining. Whether you are sharing your innermost thoughts and feelings, or simply describing your qualities and skills, you must never be boring or one-dimensional, or anything that makes you instantly forgettable. Don’t be afraid to be opinionated, stand up for what you believe and show the world what makes you proud to be you.

YOU MUST… be authentic and honest

We live in a world where it is easy to fake anything and everything, from your GCSE grades to your Instagram photos. Unfortunately, many people and especially potential employers can see right through the BS and are put off by fake facades. Instead, stick to the good old-fashioned values of honesty and integrity by being true to and with yourself and those around you. These are qualities that are much more valued in the real world.

YOU SHOULD… show vulnerability

No-one believes that anyone is perfect, and being confident enough to show flaws and failings, admitting when you are wrong and confessing ignorance are refreshing qualities that will gain you the respect of those around you. It may mean being brave, but others will thank you for it – I promise!

YOU NEED TO… have passion and determination

Passion is one characteristic that is both contagious and inspirational, so take your passion and sprinkle it all over your online brand. Everyone should immediately know what gets your motor running. Drive that passion with determination for whatever cause you want to promote and whatever changes you are trying to make. If that means showing your teeth in the process, do. This just adds fuel to your fire.

YOU MUST BE PREPARED FOR… growth and change

People constantly grow and change, and your brand must authentically reflect this, even if it means that the direction you are travelling in changes entirely. For example, a fashion forward singleton designing skyscraper heels might swap to practical pumps when she becomes a mother. You could start life as an architect and instead discover a love of interior design. The world is your oyster, and rather than creating a stagnant brand, allow people to come on your life journey with you. By doing so, they can much more closely identify with both you as a person and with the authenticity of your brand.

Real stories have speed-bumps in the road. It is these trials and tribulations and triumphs and victories that capture the hearts and imaginations of those around us, and help us create a successful and relatable personal brand.