How to Build Your Personal Brand – The Lady Gaga Guide to Personal Branding Success

Love her or hate her, you must admit that Lady Gaga has an incredibly strong personal brand.  By sight, sound, or the mere mention of her name, Lady Gaga is instantly recognized by fans and critics alike.  Think you can’t achieve similar success with your personal brand?  Think again.  Here are a few of Lady Gaga’s branding techniques that anyone can utilize.

(Yes, I am a 26 year old male, and I happen to like Lady Gaga.  Whew, the secret is out…)

Be Unique, But Make it Sincere

Lady Gaga has a one-of-a kind style that falls somewhere between insanely unique and just insane.  But, her style isn’t an act put on just for the sake of shock value, it is truly her being “herself”.  Some folks today mistake personal branding for a robotic exercise that leaves no wiggle room for personality.  Ignore that.  Today’s working world allows for individuals to be just that, individuals.

So, what about you?  Do you have unique traits or attributes that you regularly showcase?  Here are a few tests:

  • Does your Twitter stream strike the right balance between personal and professional?  Mixing in personal tweets allows your followers to connect with you more personally – meaning they will also notice your professional tweets/blog posts more often as well.
  • Think of your favorite hobbies away from your work/career.  Are those passions represented in the “About Me” page of your personal website?  (Note: Mine are not, something I need to work on.)

So much advice out there today tells us to hide our true selves in order to create a “proper” image.  I couldn’t disagree more.  As Lady Gaga points out, “This is really who I am, and it took a long time to be okay with that”.

Be Controversial

Various controversies have swirled around Lady Gaga recently.  One particular controversy is beyond ludicrous, yet managed to circulate across the web like wildfire.  The subsequent discussion and water cooler chat only added to the interest and fervor over Lady Gaga.  How can you replicate this controversy-inspired fervor for your personal brand, with a tad less ludicrousness?  Here are a few ways:

  • Set up Google alerts for keywords relevant to your field, and scan for blog posts on topics of interest.  Find a viewpoint you wholeheartedly disagree with?  Prepare a thoughtful comment, provide a link to your own blog, and reach out to the original blogger to engage in further discussion.
  • Do you have a particular opinion that is not shared by everyone in your niche?  Write a blog post expressing your opinion in full detail, and don’t hold back.  A recent example is Ms. Career Girl’s article on Penelope Trunk, which was both controversial and thought-provoking.

There is no need to actively seek controversial behavior – but when the timing is right, a good controversy can inspire interest and help build a personal brand that is uniquely yours.

Embrace Change

A common (incorrect) sentiment about personal brands is that they are formed once and adhered to rigidly forever.  No way.  Corporate brands change with the times, why can’t personal brands?  Stefani Germonatta, a brunette singer from New York, is a great example of a personal brand that changed its tune midstream.  Have you heard of her? (Hint: This post is about her!)

How can your determine if your personal brand might require some tweaking?  By pitting the vision of your personal brand against the way others perceive it.  One unique way to “read the mind” of your network is by scanning the Twitter lists in which you appear.  Are you aiming to build a brand as an expert accountant, but all of your Twitter lists are entitled “Gardening Goddess”?  Maybe that’s a sign that you aren’t building a brand that matches your true passion and it is time for a drastic change.

What do you think?  Do you agree with the points above, or is Lady Gaga too extreme an example to pattern a business-oriented personal brand around?

Ryan Rancatore can also be found at Personal Branding 101, discussing the tools and tactics that will help you build a killer personal brand in 2010 and beyond.

Ryan would go “gaga” if you’d connect with him on Twitter at @RyanRancatore, or on Linkedin, Facebook, or Brazen Careerist.


Add yours
  1. 1
    Beth Oppenheim

    Loving your insights (and Lady Gaga.) When she first became famous, I definitely questioned her authenticity. But I took notice – which was 100% the point. I like the way you draw lines between being yourself and getting attention. There can be a balance and I think that is a really interesting lens to look through.
    Oh. And her shoes are amazing.

  2. 2
    Karen J Miller

    Hey Ryan,
    Many talented artists and leaders in the entertainment industry are outside of the box…look at Cher for example.
    These same people are admired for their integrity of standing up for themselves. That is what they are remembered for in the long run.

  3. 3

    I blogged about a similar Lady GaGa topic just today. You were far more eloquent. I feel people can take a few lines from GaGa's book re: being unique, being strong and having strong opinions!

  4. 4
    Jake LaCaze

    There is no doubt that Lady Gaga has established her own brand. You know her when you see her, know her when you hear her. Isn't that the definition of branding? Her image is unique and eccentric.

  5. 5
    Ryan Rancatore

    Beth, I think you hit the nail right on the head. Although, I can't comment on the amazingness of Ms. Gaga's shoes, at least not without embarrassing myself any further.

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