The 7 Deadly Sins of Personal Branding – Donts for Building Your Personal Brand

Everyone’s personal brand is different, even if by the tiniest subtlety.  So, there are very few “sins” of personal branding that universally apply to all.  But, I’m confident that the seven personal branding sins listed below can be applied to everyone – including you (but let’s hope they don’t)!

Without further ado, here are 7 sinful characteristics of a personal brand that you should absolutely aim to avoid.

1.  Thinking you don’t need a personal brand

Surprise!  You do need a personal brand, and in fact, you have one whether you like it or not.  The experience that occurs when someone Googles you? That is one reflection of your brand (even if nothing shows up).  Your LinkedIn profile, or lack thereof?  Yet another extension of your brand.

Personal branding is a bit like fashion.  Whether you know it or not, you’ve got a unique sense of style that the whole world can see.

2.  Misrepresenting yourself

The internet is a glorious place where we all have the freedom to say and do pretty much whatever the hell we like.  Empowering? Yes.  Overly empowering? Maybe.  Artificially pumping up your personal brand by misrepresenting your experience or skill set will only come back to eventually bite you in the ass.

Specifically, don’t call yourself an expert or a guru unless you really are one.  Those words are utterly meaningless unless you can quickly back them up.

3.  Making your personal brand ALL about you

Sure, your personal brand is ultimately a reflection of you and you alone.  But, do you want that reflection to be of a self-centered individual that only looks inward? I hope not!

I love the 90/10 rule put forth by Jack Humphrey.  Make 90% of your communication about others, or how to help others, and save a maximum of 10% for you.  Will this dilute your personal brand, you might be wondering?  Absolutely not.  Instead, you will come across as knowledgeable, truly willing to share the ideas of others, and ready to lead them to success.

4.  Building a brand you don’t believe in

Admittedly, the personal branding hype machine is screaming at an all-time high right now.  But don’t be confused into thinking you simply must build a brand this instant around your current job or area of study.  If your heart isn’t in it, or you have self-doubt over your current path, take time to sort it all out.

Consider Ola Rynge’s take on the importance of passion.  If you are lacking passion, your personal brand will lack passion as well.

5.  Forgetting the “personal” in personal branding

I find it quite interesting that businesses today attempt to humanize their corporate brands, while many individuals are actually doing just the opposite with their personal brands.  Personal branding is not about hiding your unique traits, it is about making them shine bright!

The one thing that separates you from the rest of us is not your proficiency with Microsoft Excel, or your super slick profile pic.  What separates you is the fact that…I don’t know actually, you tell me.  Would I know it from your outward personal brand?

6.  Forgetting the “social” in social media

Social networking is a huge part of personal branding today.  It is absolutely the most effective way to connect with others and communicate your unique message.  But, if all you are doing is repetitively shoving your message down the throats of your network, you will soon be all alone, screaming to no one.

One of the best examples I can give is Scott Stratton, @unmarketing.  Scott exemplifies all that is good about social networking, and provides an excellent example to follow.  As he puts it, “Engage, Interact, Build.”  Check him out.

7.  Never taking a day off

The 24/7, lightning quick world we operate in today is truly amazing.  Sometimes I get the feeling that if I miss an hour on Twitter, something Earth-shattering will happen without me.  I’ve got to get over that, and I bet you do too.  So you don’t tweet for a day – will you lose followers? Or your blog goes stagnant for a week.  Will your subscribers panic and unsubscribe? No and no.

While it is true that your personal brand is publicly viewable on the web 24/7, don’t think that your personal branding efforts must follow the same time schedule.  Taking time off just might be the catalyst you need for a more inspired brand.

What do you think?  Do you agree or disagree with the 7 “sins” listed above?  Any universal no-no’s that I’ve left off the list?  I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments section below.


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 love to connect with you on Twitter at @RyanRancatore, or on Linkedin, Facebook, or Brazen Careerist.


Add yours
  1. 1

    Good article, Ryan, especially the parts about keeping the “social” in “social media” and allowing yourself to take a breather. Your followers may need a breather, too!

  2. 3

    Interesting…and more interesting because I now realize that I’m not really doing anything wrong with how I present myself. I may not be aware that I’m building my personal brand not that I don’t need a personal brand, it’s a good thing I’m not really practicing all those mentioned in your 7 deadly sins of Personal Branding…thanks for the post.

  3. 6

    This is a very informative article. I learn a lot from you. I agree that we should believe in our products. Thank you for sharing this one.

  4. 7
    Ryan Rancatore

    You are totally right, Christina. Most “personal branding” activities actually come naturally – some of these strongest personal brands out there were “built” unknowingly. Glad to hear you are on the right track!

  5. 10

    I'm interested in the safety factors of branding oneself. Isn't it risky to put all this information about yourself online?

  6. 11

    I'm interested in the safety factors of branding oneself. Isn't it risky to put all this information about yourself online?

Comments are closed.