5 Personal Branding No-No's And How To Fix Them


In the world of coaching, branding yourself is just as important as branding your business. Why? Because your clients are deciding to work with YOU! Your potential clients will gravitate towards the person behind the business rather than the business itself. But I’ve seen a lot of amazing coaches fail to pay enough attention to the practice of personal branding. Many don’t even realize it’s something they should be thinking about. Others feel uncomfortable and vulnerable about the idea of marketing themselves.

Is it egotistical? Well, it can be if you make it all about you! Personal branding is about reinforcing the reasons why your audience should listen to what you have to say based on how YOU can help THEM.

Seth Godin, a guru in the world of marketing, believes a strong brand is essential for any business to survive and is made up of many layers. He says, “A brand is a set of expectations, memories, stories, and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”

So what are the personal branding pitfalls you need to avoid?

Read on to find out…

Going with the flow rather than planning

When it comes to branding yourself, it can be tempting to “go with the flow.” You want to be your natural self, so it seems unnecessary to plan or strategize. While over planning your personal brand can definitely be a bad idea, no planning at all is a total recipe for disaster.

Before you rush into setting up social media profiles and websites, make sure you sit down and clarify the key objectives you're looking to achieve with your personal brand. Then think about tactics that could be used to work towards these goals.

I like to let the ideas flow without restraining myself to any sort of structure during the initial brainstorming process. Then, once I have my goals and a list of possible tactics, I can think about how to lay out an action plan.

It’s also important to ensure that your progress can be measured against your goals. You might want to set quantifiable goals alongside your qualitative ones. For example, how many likes/followers do you want to gather in the next year? For more qualitative goals, you can occasionally survey your audience asking them for their thoughts and feedback.

Changing yourself for the market

An all-too-common temptation is to change your own behavior for the market. Marketing is about providing value and information to influence how target audiences behave – personal branding should be no different.

It may sound corny, but the best way to grow an audience online is to be yourself. When it comes down to it, the unique factors that define you are the only reason for someone to engage with your brand over anybody else. There is no secret formula for tailoring your personality so that people will like you.

It’s also just plain exhausting to be somebody else. The effort of being inauthentic is draining and takes the fun out of running your business.

That isn’t to say that you can’t improve on certain characteristics of your brand to cater it to your target audience. But these should be supplementary rather than defining. Be yourself and engage people who love exactly who you are.

Chris Ducker has an interesting take on personal branding: “Your personal brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room.”

It’s a good thing to always keep that in mind!

Failing to clearly define your position

No matter who you are, it's still important to identify the key characteristics that set you apart from everybody else in the market. Why would somebody listen to you, over someone else?

The answer to this is different for everybody. Maybe you are the foremost expert in the area? Maybe you are the funniest business coach around? Maybe you are the most caring and helpful?

There are all kinds of different ways you can position yourself against competitors. What’s important is to make the most of your uniqueness. Potential clients are looking for a reason to pick you over your competitors, so failing to clearly define your position in the market gives them nothing to work with.

A great way to think about your positioning is through a positioning map. Figure out the core axes that segment your market. For example, take “humor” and “expertise.” Draw these up and position your competitors based on how they interact.

Where does your personal brand sit in comparison to your competitors? Are you in a heavily populated part of the map? What can you do to reposition and access a hole in the market that your map has identified?

Once you have investigated your position and points of difference, set out a short statement that defines what makes you unique and stand out. This positioning statement should underline every piece of communication you make that represents your personal brand. Print it out in large font and stick it to your wall.

It’s important that you are specific about this statement, too. Don’t simply fill it with vague descriptions that could apply to anybody. Get rid of buzzwords and replace them with real talk.

Everything you do should promote your originality and what makes your voice worth listening to - whether it’s directly related to your business or even extra-curricular activities that help build a story about who you are. This is something many people don’t do well, if at all, and it's where you can make a big impact.

Neglecting offline channels

The modern world of digital marketing is all online and, therefore, most of your personal brand is too. Social media is king, while blogging is a great way to build followers. But that doesn’t mean you should neglect offline channels completely.

Remember that some of the best connections are made in real life – at functions and events, such as conferences, conventions, workshops, and retreats. Attending these sorts of events is a great way to meet people who can help you achieve your business goals. What better way to ensure a lifelong fan of your personal brand than to have a genuine conversation with them?

The connections you make at events can then be transferred into the digital realm. Get people you meet to sign up for your newsletter, add you on LinkedIn or like you on Facebook. Don’t leave it for later and then never hear from them again, like so many people do.

In person, you can forge a better relationship with potential clients or business partners in five seconds than you can in two weeks of online conversation. Take advantage of these opportunities.

Leaning too heavily on "trophies"

A big mistake that a lot of people make when working on their personal branding is to focus too heavily on their achievements – or their “trophies” rather than their clients. This can turn off a lot of people because it comes off as arrogant and showy, rather than providing them a real reason to engage.

Constantly promoting your achievements can become a desperate plea for people to like you, - and we don't want that!! Rather let them get to know you so they become to know, like and trust you. Of course, it’s always good to mention these things every now and again, but make sure you aren’t leaning too heavily on them.

The real factors that should be attracting and maintaining an audience are your strong voice, personality, and effectiveness in your niche. Basically, your achievements should simply confirm what your fans already know!

Let your trophies speak for themselves. People know that your awards and big-name clients are good reasons to work with you; they don’t need you to force-feed them with it. Hyping yourself up can definitely turn people away.

Author, speaker, podcaster and financial guru Jason Hartman says, “Your personal brand is a promise to your clients… a promise of quality, consistency, competency, and reliability.” Let your potential clients see it.


  • Personal branding is an important strategy that many people neglect or are too overwhelmed to think about
  • It’s essential to ensure that you have a clearly defined, unique and authentic personality that differentiates you from others in the market
  • A lot of people make mistakes when marketing themselves to their target audience, without even realizing it. It can be hard to see what you are doing wrong without a third party perspective
  • Get out there and make connections IRL at events and conferences because offline networking is just as important as online marketing
  • Share your successes but don’t be afraid to share your failures, too. It all adds up to make you who you are
  • Never be afraid to ask for feedback from your friends or audience; it's the best way to improve

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