The 3 Laws of Online Personal Branding


We’ve written about creating your personal brand and an online persona before, but given the importance of that branding in the world of today’s web worker, it’s important that you understand the underlying laws of branding.

It’s not enough to write prolifically, to have a great Facebook or LinkedIn page, to comment everywhere or be everywhere.

Those things are important, of course, but what’s just as important is knowing what works and why it works. To understand that, you need to understand the timeless laws of branding — stuff that has worked from the time of Henry Ford onward. Heck, even Shakespeare and Da Vinci and Socrates seemed to understand branding.

The Three Laws of Branding all revolve around a message: when you create a brand, you are sending a message to anyone who sees or hears that brand. You aren’t just creating a name that has no meaning. For example, Pepsi doesn’t just put its name and logo everywhere without thinking about what message it is sending. Sure, it puts its name and logo everywhere, but it is also careful to create ads that reinforce the message that Pepsi is not only delicious and refreshing, it is also the hip choice of the younger generation.

It’s that message that you need to pay attention to when branding.

Law 1: Create a valuable message. To do this, offer people something of value. Show them that your brand equals something that will help them somehow. To do this, it’s good to offer something of value wherever you repeat your brand, whether that’s offering valuable advice or giving away information or resources or services.

Also think about how you differentiate your message from others offering similar services or products. If you offer the same exact thing, then how is your message valuable? It’s only valuable if you’re different in a way that’s valuable to people. For example, if I offer advice on blogging, I would have to be different than the thousands of others doing the same. Perhaps I would show people how to monetize their blogs in a new way, or create a new kind of content, or create a simple but jazzy design. However you do it, it’s important that you offer value beyond the pack of others doing the same thing.

Law 2: Repeat the message often and widely. The art of branding is famous for its repetition. You can’t just tell people your brand once and expect them to remember it, or its message. And even if you repeat your brand 10 times, if it’s to the same 10 people, then your message isn’t reaching the other million people out there.

Of course, this repetition can be a challenge. You have to find multiple ways of repeating your brand. You can’t just do it on your blog — you have to repeat the message in forums, on other blogs, on Facebook or MySpace or Twitter or Yahoo Answers or LinkedIn, or all of the above. Participate actively in your niche, and then get outside your niche to find a wider audience. Neil Patel writes about some great methods of branding in different ways on his branding blog, QuickSprout, including The First 7 Days of Personal Branding.

Law 3: Be consistent with your message. This is the law most often ignored. People might create a valuable message, and then repeat it far and wide, but the actions they take or the various things they write might be inconsistent with that message.

For example, if your message is that you are someone who can create positive life changes in people, in a positive and enthusiastic way, and then you participate in a forum where you attack someone, you can see how the message is inconsistent.

Everything you do online, everything you write and say, everything you present, sends a message — sometimes a message you aren’t aware you’re sending. It is vital to creating a valuable brand that you think about the message you’re sending — spoken and unspoken — whenever you do anything online. Whether you’re sending an email, writing a guest post on another blog, writing a comment, sending a Twitter message … think about not only the words you’re writing, but the tone, the manner and style. Is it consistent with your desired message?

If you ignore this law, you will create mixed signals, and confusion, and all your efforts at branding will go to waste. Because the message you’re actually sending might not be the one you designed, but the one that the public picks up on in your tone and in your attitude and in your actions.

Think carefully about these things, and the message you’re sending, when you’re creating your brand out there in the online world.



Three great, very easy to follow laws for personal branding even now in 2011! The only thing I would add would be to Law #3, if you are unsure if you are sending the the message you want (or intended to) try to poll your audience or those close to you to make sure you are in fact on the right track. Your other commenters had it right when they mentioned branding is mostly about perceptions. How are others perceiving your image?


Consistency is the key, you have to maintain your personal brand. Doing something opposite of what you say only depreciates your value if not nullifies it. Thanks for the tips…also check out its a helpful personal branding site.

Dan Schawbel

You want to have a consistent message with a clear value proposition that will stimulate a transactions between you and the customer. Personal Branding is about preparing yourself for such an engagement by discovering who you are and what you can provide.

Dorothea Stuart

Yes branding is all about clarity, consistency and constancy. A couple of additions I would suggest:
1.A brand message needs to be repeated but not necessarily to millions of people. If you are selling a niche information product or service you want to be talking to a smaller pool of people. The more focused your message is the more credibility you are likely to have with your target audience.
2.Clearly you want to offer something of value. However, it may not be possible to come with a significantly different product or service in a crowded market (although I agree you should do everything you can to find a differentiator). This is where personal branding comes in. I think you are picking up on this when you say “It’s only valuable if you’re different in a way that’s valuable to people”. Two people could give advice on the same technical area and yet appeal to different audiences because their style, their approach gels with different people.


Branding is about perceptions. Too often people don’t pay enough attention to that and wind up projecting the wrong image.


Hi, Leo. I like how you emphasize that consistency is really important. It’s all about being authentic. Though I also think there is real value in testing different ideas and approaches and making mistakes (for those times when we forget these three great tips!). It’s up to the individual to determine how frequently and to what extent new ideas should be tried, of course. And so long as you are honest and have a sense of humor about the errors and the “oops”, I think mistakes and experiments can actually serve to endear bloggers to their readers.

JTPRATT's Blogging Mistakes

Building a brand isn’t just “vital”, it’s “viral”. If your voice is distinct enough in your writings, and your content clever enough – you are “inviting” and “enticing” people to come back with each post you write.


HI Leo
I have been following your site quiet a while, Interesting and very useful. Thank you. I see a lot of posts useful and productive for a web worker. Just wondering is there any games that is useful for more productive web worker. I am not into games, but there should be some games or sites that is useful to improve our productivity or to use our brains more effeciently.
keep up the good work
Thank you

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