Personal branding part one: Building your personal brand

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  by Renee Moodie

Personal branding part one: Building your personal brand

This is the first of a four-part course on personal branding.

Reading time: 4-5 mins

In a fevered world of 24-hour news and always-on social media, knowing what to speak up on (let alone how loudly, and on which platform) can seem frankly bewildering. The spotlight can be unforgiving. For those of us whose default is self-doubt, the safest option, it seems, is to fly under the radar. We ignore the occasional pangs of loneliness arising from feeling outside the glow of professional or social media recognition. We comfort ourselves that not everyone has the confidence to put themselves forward, and that to try any harder would veer towards hubris.

But in holding this view, we miss out on real-world opportunities for growth. Women, more than anyone else, need personal brands. Not only to forge ahead in our careers. But to understand deep in our psyches how our history, cultures, and genders interplay to increase our value as leaders and shapers of an increasingly complex world. 

In this four-part course, we’ll show that overconfidence, rather than timidity, is what stands in the way of authentic personal branding. Those of us who question ourselves the most tend to know ourselves the best. Which means the brands we build shine with authenticity. Study after study shows that authentic brands gain more traction.

Building a distinct personal brand isn’t about vanity, it’s about asserting a meaningful narrative in a landscape where too often voices homogenise. A personal brand is professional survival, with grace.

The QW+ personal branding course draws on material we use in our media training. It is a unique blend of leadership and media skills training offered through an unabashedly feminist lens. Contact kath@quotethiswoman.org.za to discuss your organisation’s training needs.  

What is personal branding?

A personal branding strategy is a plan to bring higher visibility to the innate strengths in each of our reputations and careers. 

It represents our best vision of the future and our most authentic vision of ourselves. It:

  • Is communicated consistently both verbally and non-verbally
  • Is carried out in a digital footprint (on social media platforms, and any writing done online)

Committing to developing and building a personal brand is difficult: nobody wants to be seen as a boasting self-promoter. But if we think of personal branding as an act of service, it becomes easier. We are telling people how we can help them using language and stories that are authentically unique to each of us.

Image by Thandiwe Muriu, from the series Camo.
A personal branding strategy is a plan to bring higher visibility to your reputation and your career.
Image by Thandiwe Muriu, from the series Camo.

Why it is important

Having a personal brand is associated with:

  • being more trusted
  • having a higher perceived value
  • standing out from your peers
  • authenticity
  • being seen as the “go-to” person in your field. 

QW+ personal brand hero no. 1: Leymah Gbowee, peace activist, Liberia

Leymah Gbowee
“Why were women, who bore the brunt of war, expected to remain quiet while men debated how to make peace?” Leymah Gbowee
Image source.

Personal branding moments: 

  • Winning the Nobel Peace Prize
  • Peace activism documentary Pray the devil back to hell
  • The strong visual impact of the all-white T-shirts and headwear of the Women In Peacebuilding Network during all pro-peace sit-ins and marches

Personal branding info:

Leymah Gbowee’s personal brand is grounded in her personal mission: her unwavering commitment to peace and women’s empowerment in the face of adversity. She is most famous for having fearlessly mobilised women across religious and ethnic lines during Liberia’s civil war. Gbowee’s brand authenticity lies in her grassroots approach, addressing real issues affecting women and society. Her courage to challenge the status quo, advocate for peace, and empower women reflects genuine convictions, creating an authentic brand built on impactful action.

Where to start

Personal branding begins with finding a mission, and that starts with writing a simple personal brand statement. 

Download and complete our self-reflection questionnaire to start understanding your personal brand. This exercise is estimated to take 15 minutes. We welcome all feedback!

Next month: Crafting a personal tagline

Interesting reading:  Maslow’s Needs 

Featured Image: Scrolling, Zandile Tshabalala