Personal Branding 2.0: Learn from the Pros

Anna Rydne Communications specialist, Communicate [your] Skills

Posted on March 4th 2013

Personal Branding 2.0: Learn from the Pros

Personal branding is about finding out who you are and crafting your career around the true you. It's also about constantly improving your brand. The difference between having a stunning personal brand, and having a standard personal reputation, is a clearly defined strategy to elevate your brand image.

Have a look at these 9 celebrity women, and learn what they did to up-level themselves to a 2.0 position.  

Do you want to know the personal branding secrets of these women?

personal brandingCritics tried to brand Michelle Obama as an "angry black woman," but she did some serious rebranding after moving into the White House. Now she's the First Mom, caring not only about her own but for all American families, and acts as a role model for healthy eating.

how to elevate personal brandJK Rowling was an unemployed single mother living on welfare when she wrote the first Harry Potter book. Her name was then simply Joanne Rowling, but anticipating that the target audience of young boys might not want to read a book written by a woman, her publishers demanded that she use two initials, rather than her full name.

brandingOprah Winfrey was born into poverty to a single teenage mother, but she won an oratory contest, which secured her a full scholarship to Tennessee State University, where she studied communication. Her first job as a teenager was working at a local grocery store, but she landed a job in radio while still in high school. The rest is history: she has been ranked the richest African-American of the 20th century, the greatest black philanthropist in American history,and was for a time the world's only black billionaire.

image branding
Angelina Jolie made her screen debut as a child, and was named Hollywood's highest-paid actress by Forbes in 2009 and 2011. As a mum of six, she now promotes humanitarian causes, and is noted for her work with refugees as a Special Envoy and Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

personal brandingMartha Stewart, domestic godess in her own empire, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, was found guilty of conspiracy, obstruction of an agency proceeding, and making false statements to federal investigators, and was sentenced to serve a five-month term in a federal prison. As expected, while in confinement, she didn't fall into despair. Instead she took a job and became an informal liaison between the administration and her fellow inmates. People Magazine wrote: "with the drive that would make her a billionaire, Stewart took her lemon of a sentence and made lemonade. Heck, she made a lemon soufflé."

personal brandingVictoria Beckham topped the worst dressed lists in 2006, when Gucci took her on. The unconfirmed story says their act stemmed out of pure self-preservation since Mrs Beckham had begun to be the threath that could destroy their brand: she was seen and associated with their clothes, and what Victoria wore was instantly rejected by Gucci's regular customers. Gucci concluded they couldn't stop Victoria's obsession with their clothes (she paid for them herself) so they decided to try to change her from within. They sponsored her outfits and gave her a complete make-over. They even supported her own fashion brand, and made her into the fashionista she's considered today.

personal brandingMadonna started out as an A-student and as a member of the cheerleading squad in high school; she later dropped out of college and relocated to New York City. She worked as a waitress at Dunkin' Donuts and with modern dance troupes. Today she is known for continuously reinventing both her music and image, and is recognized as the best-selling female recording artist of all time by Guinness World Records.

personal brandingMarissa Mayer went from numerous key positions at Google to CEO of Yahoo! The same day Yahoo! announced her hiring, Mayer revealed that she was pregnant. When the baby was born, she went on a historically short maternity leave of two weeks. She claims her priorities now are "God, family and Yahoo - in that order", and says "the baby is easy." (Wonder if the person who actually spends time with him and listen to his cries is of the same opinion?)

personal brandingMarilyn Monroe began working in the Radioplane Munitions Factory, mainly spraying airplane parts with fire retardant and inspecting parachutes. She was noticed by a photographer who was sent to the site to shoot morale-boosting photographs of young women helping the war effort. He encouraged her to apply to a modeling agency, and it was her successful modeling career that brought her to the movies, made her bleach her hair and change her name.

Are you up-scaling your personal brand? What's your personal branding secrets? Please tell in the comment box below.



Anna Rydne

Communications specialist, Communicate [your] Skills

Anna Rydne is a communications specialist, a writer and and a blogger. What distinguishes her from others in her field of expertise is that she treats communication as entertainment. It's simple to explain why: if it isn't funny or relevant enough, people switch channel.

Based in Stockholm, Sweden, she writes the blog Communicate [your] Skills where she covers topics on how to improve your communication skills in all areas related to yourself, your community and your professional life. She's determined to uncover the secrets of how successful people and companies communicate.

Anna has a special interest in social media and personal branding and she believes the road to success is trying. She tweets about all things comms, social media and marketing @CoSkills. She holds a bachelor's degree in psychology.

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Kent Ong
Posted on March 4th 2013 at 12:32PM

Hi Anna, thanks for sharing those stories. To brand ourselves, we can build a community for your industry, invite them to join your community, give value to the community and become a thought leader or a brand.

Posted on March 4th 2013 at 12:48PM

Thanks Kent! You're absolutely right - personal branding should definitely be about bringing value!

3H Communications
Posted on March 4th 2013 at 5:56PM

Great article. It's not only companies that need to brand themselves...nor is it only celebrities. Branding today is necessary for everyone! Here's another blog on how individuals (not just public figures) can brand themselves.

Posted on March 4th 2013 at 6:04PM

Thank you Miriam for your comment and your further reading tip as well! It's true everyone need to position themselves to be noticed in today's world. Either we label ourselves, or others will do it for us!

3H Communications
Posted on March 4th 2013 at 6:23PM

Exactly Anna. Individuals that are memorable instinctively do brand themselves...if it's only about wearing a certain colour or colourful clothes or a personal dress style.



Posted on March 20th 2013 at 10:18PM

I've been struggling with personal branding this week so this article was great! It did get me thinking though how it might revolutionise teams in business if we got everyone thinking of their personal brand and how that contributed to a team brand