Everyone has a personal brand, but some of us are better at realizing its potential than others.

These 5 entrepreneurs managed to turn their personal brands into money-making machines. And while not all of us have as strong of followings as Oprah or Elon Musk, we could still learn a ton from their examples.

1) Richard Branson: Be consistently authentic in everything you do


Ask a random person on the street if they know who Richard Branson is and you’re almost guaranteed to get a positive response. The power of Branson’s personal brand is so strong it’s evident in all the different businesses he runs – from Virgin Media to Virgin Atlantic, even down to Virgin Galactic. The playful, witty tone that’s become so intrinsic to Branson’s business ventures is a key component of his personal brand, and it plays a part in everything he does.

If your personal brand reflects your personality, values and passions, consistent branding won’t be that difficult to achieve. However, you must understand that consistency is a choice. You can’t act on a whim or change your strategy whenever you feel like it. What’s the trademark quality or behavior that you can embed in every project? When you find an answer to that, inject it in your work and watch your brand flourish.

2) Oprah Winfrey: Strive to genuinely connect with people around you

Oprah Winfrey (2004)

Oprah Winfrey is one of the most extraordinary female leaders of this day. She has built her empire by genuinely engaging and empowering people, shaping her brand to become a symbol of trust and openness. By gearing your efforts and communications towards bigger, more meaningful goals (other than just getting rich), you will be able to naturally amplify your personal brand’s impact and power.

Stories keep the world turning, and Oprah knows that. If you manage to find a way to use your personal brand as a channel for sharing not only your own but other people’s passions, it will provide another layer of credibility. Establishing connections with talented people in your field and collaborating on various projects will only boost your credibility — while a certain amount of competition is healthy, it’s not always necessary.

3) Elon Musk: Live your brand

Elon Musk - The Summit 2013

Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is a truly unique entrepreneur who’s successfully married his own personal brand with his business vision. He’s been labelled as a visionary and praised for his ability to transform an automobile business into an innovative tech company. He’s constantly pushing the envelope and pioneering new ideas, so it’s no surprise that his name has long become a trademark for innovation and futuristic thinking — after all, Musk is determined to conquer Mars!

What can we learn from this ambitious entrepreneur? Many things. But the most profound piece of wisdom that we should take away and adapt to our own personal branding is that a true, genuine passion is a base that we should build from. With so many hurdles, rejections and failures under his belt, Elon Musk has succeeded against all odds and delivered some breathtaking results. How? He simply didn’t take no for an answer. Ensure that your personal brand reinforces your deepest passion and you’ll blaze through obstacles that seemed impossible to overcome.

4) Emma Watson: Reinforce the positive perceptions

Emma Watson 2013

You’d think that it’s pretty easy to build a personal brand when your face is plastered on posters all around the world and you have someone else “managing your reputation”. But it’s not even close. Think about the more unpredictable celebrity cases, such as Lindsay Lohan and Justin Bieber. Yes, they’re famous and rich but they’re not necessarily associated with positive behaviors. Actress Emma Watson, on the other hand, is a different story.

Her legendary role as Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter movies has certainly served as the foundation for her personal brand – many people still associate Emma with the extraordinary intelligence, compassion and desire to do what is right that Hermione embodies – but we must acknowledge that the actress is working hard to reinforce those connections in real life. Her position as the U.N. Global Goodwill Ambassador for women as well as the other various charitable initiatives that she carries out on a constant basis blur the lines between her personal brand and the the positive qualities of the beloved character she brought to life.

What should we learn from this? Reinforcing the existing positive perceptions can help us capitalize on the momentum that’s already there. Understand what positives people see in you and elevate them.

5) Steve Jobs: Do everything you can to exceed expectations

Steve Jobs Headshot 2010-CROP

Steve Jobs wasn’t just a mega clever techpreneur. He had taste, diverse interests and an unwavering dedication to perfection. The sleek appearance of Apple’s branding efforts promised exactly what the products ended up delivering. Jobs developed a cohesive visual brand identity that somehow became a guarantee for quality and used his own personal brand (just think about his jeans and turtleneck uniform) to blast it out to the world.

The human brain is a visual engine. If you manage to develop your personal brand by drawing onto vivid images (especially ones that people remember), you give yourself a serious head start in the race to success. The attractiveness of your personal brand will draw people in, and then you can smash their expectations by over-delivering.  

It sounds a little cheesy and not everyone wants to make a brand out of themselves, but a personal brand is just reputation management. In the world where perceptions mean more than qualifications, we must pay attention to it to succeed.

Take 20 minutes to soak in the essential tips, as PeoplePerHour’s PR guru, Aylish Jarvie, walks you through the pillars of building a personal brand and shares some tactical advice on how to achieve your professional and personal goals faster and with more success.take the personal branding class


Juste Semetaite is a content marketer and a serious life passionista with a flair for learning new things. She works @PeoplePerHour, the Europe’s largest freelance marketplace, and practices word-crafting daily. You can ping her at juste@peopleperhour.com or tweet @JusteSem

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Written by:

Juste Semetaite