View Twitter chat schedule: #SMTLive

The Gollum Guide to Personal Branding

Gollum, also known as Sméagol, obsessed with the ring in the Lord of the Rings, is most often thought of as a small slimy creature, mostly evoking disgust among those he’s in contact with.

Looking a bit closer, however, Gollum is not an entirely one-dimensional character. He’s definitely more multi-faceted than many of the other characters in the epic story. He’s more real, more human than most, and there’s actually a few things you can learn from Gollum when it comes to personal branding.

personal branding tips

1. Be human

Gollum is a real character. He does not only evoke a single emotional response such as annoyance, pity, disgust, fear, suspicion or hate. He evokes a full-spectrum response that involves all those feelings and more.

Often, people strive to show off an almost flawless existence, both off- and online. But if you want to be heard online, if you want to stand out, there’s no such thing as being perfect. To be credible online, you must show your unique personality: your story, your quirks and your thoughts. Everything that makes you the one you are. Talk about your own experiences and your own struggles. Tell people your story. They will love you for being a person with shortcomings like everyone else. No one is perfect, but being yourself will make you perfectly you. And people like that. You will notice that they’ll listen to you more when you’ve found your own voice.

2. Identify your precious

branding best practices

When positioning yourself, it’s definitely an advantage if you have a clear focus, a goal or achievement that you’re striving for. Being obsessed with the ring, Gollum never loses sight of his objective, and for your personal branding you shouldn’t either. Whether it’s to land a certain job at a certain company (like Matthew Epstein in his video resume) or to uncover the secrets of how successful people and companies communicate, you should definitely go all in. People will remember you for your passion. Just as the ring keeps Gollum going, so will your precious too.

3. Find your own way

There’s something very creative about Gollum, if you look at his ability to travel fast, widely and on ways no one ever traveled before. Gollum is a natural when it comes to finding his own way. It makes him unique, with a special ability, very useful in the surroundings he’s operating in. By finding your own way of doing something that sets you apart from other people in your field of expertise, you’ll stand out and make yourself known for being highly creative.

4. Be curious

personal brand

Essential for the ability to develop your creativity, is to be curious. Gollum was the most curious-minded of his community, and he got his name because he was interested in roots, deep pools, plants and mounds.

A curious mind is always on the hunt for new experiences and for trying out new tools or processes. A curious mind has the possibility to be really innovative and is always a valuable asset for clients and employers. Develop the curious side of yourself and craft it into your personal branding activities. Make clear to everyone that you’re an active individual, constantly looking for new improvements. Just as Gollum could spot and catch fish in almost any level of light and water, make yourself known for finding the gems, wherever there are any.

5. Stick to your objectives

When you’ve identified your precious, your reason, you need to stick to it with a supernatural strength, just like Gollum does. Consequence is very important when it comes to personal branding. People need to be able to label you and to understand what you stand for. Even influence scores, like Kred or Klout, are based on how consistently you are influencing a certain topic.

6. Write your bio in third person


Gollum speaks in an outlandish manner, often referring to himself in the third person. That’s just perfect when writing your bio. Embrace your inner Gollum, and get some inspiration from these bios. But remember the importance of speaking with your own genuine voice.

Image source:

Join The Conversation

  • CoSkills's picture
    Jun 10 Posted 4 years ago CoSkills

    Hi Michael! I'm happy to hear that the story surprised you in a positive way and that you found it useful. Thank you for taking your time to comment and for letting me know what you thought about it. /Anna

  • Jun 9 Posted 4 years ago Mzuganelis

    I have to admit two things:  1; I was skeptical in using this character as an example, and 2; I was intrigued.  That said, as a LOTR fan I had to read this.  Turned out that there are some very straightforward and solid tips for your personal brand.

Webinars On Demand

  • May 09, 2017
    With all of the technologies available to marketers today, have we lost that personal touch? Join VP of Content Marketing for ON24, Mark Bornste...
  • April 05, 2017
    In the ever-changing world of digital marketing, operational efficiency, quick turn-around times, testing and adapting to change are crucial to...