So, you’ve decided it’s time to build a personal brand. Congratulations! You’re about to embark on an exciting and fulfilling journey that will align who you are with who you want to be. (Not quite sure what a personal brand is? Start with this article.) While you’ll be doing a lot of internal digging, it helps to look to others for inspiration.
Sometimes the very best insights come from those with an established media presence. Check out some of our team’s favorite personal brands to get a glimpse at what exceptional personal branding can look like.
The Multipassionate Entrepreneur: Marie Forleo
While working as a floor trader on the NYSE, Marie Forleo realized there had to be more out there for her. So, she left her 9–5 job to chase her potential. She worked in marketing at Conde Nast, choreographed hip-hop dances for MTV, and became one of the world’s first Nike Elite Dance Athletes. And along the way, she learned that traditional rules are meant to be broken for those who want to create a rich and meaningful life. She has since published two international bestsellers and has a weekly show, a podcast, and online courses that help others start their own business, become better writers, and manage their time better. Marie now spends her time helping others build a life they truly love.
The Online Marketing Whiz who is Extremely Offline: Seth Godin
Just because you’re creating a personal brand doesn’t mean you need to be online all the time. Seth Godin, bestselling author, creator of the altMBA, and pioneer of ethical online direct marketing, is proof that you can draw boundaries that feel right to you and still have a successful online brand. Godin isn’t on social media, so if you want regular updates from him, you’ll have to visit his website or listen to his podcast. With a net worth of over $50 million, it’s clear that Godin’s offline approach is working.
The Relationship Aficionado: Esther Perel
Esther Perel grew up in Belgium, where she was raised by survivors of the Holocaust who taught her about the importance of human resilience. After attending graduate school in the United States, Perel rose to the public eye with an article on American couples and sexuality inspired by the Clinton-Lewinsky affair. Perel has since become an expert on the intersection of the erotic and the domestic. She hosts two podcasts, one on intimate moments and another on how our relationships impact both home and work life, and has published two best-selling relationship books. If you want to improve your relational intelligence, start with Esther.
The Screen Actor-Turned-Startup Exec: Ashton Kutcher
Ashton Kutcher broke into the cultural zeitgeist in the late 1990s, first on That ‘70s Show and then in several comedy films. After spending four years producing and hosting Punk’d, Kutcher replaced Charlie Sheen on Two and a Half Men in 2011 and went on to co-star in the Netflix series The Ranch from 2016–2020. Outside of his acting career, Kutcher founded Thorn, a human rights organization addressing the sexual exploitation of children, in 2009 with his then-wife Demi Moore, but that’s not all. He has also become a prolific venture capitalist. Kutcher’s Twitter bio says he builds “things, stories, [and] companies.” At its core, what he has created is a brand that says, “I believe in all of us.”
The Shapeshifter: JoJo Siwa
Tiny, blonde, and with a bow the size of her face, JoJo Siwa leapt off of television screens from the moment she first appeared on Lifetime’s Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition in 2013. A talented dancer known for her larger-than-life personality, Siwa began releasing music two years later, and went on to partner with Nickelodeon for a film, a television show, and 52-stop concert tour across North America, Europe, and Oceania. Long seen as a public figure “for kids,” Siwa began shifting her brand by removing her signature hair bow in 2021. After coming out as part of the LGBTQ+ community, Siwa became part of the first-ever same-sex dancing partnership on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars in September 2021, and was recently announced as the recipient of GLSEN’s Gamechanger Award for her anti-bullying advocacy work. At 19, JoJo Siwa may have grown up in the spotlight, but she’s setting her own standard for what that brand looks like.
After you check out our suggestions, turn to people on your radar. Who inspires you? What can you learn from them about the personal brand you want to build? You never know what you might find—or where it will take you!