10 Personal Branding Mistakes That Even Professionals Make

The difference between you and the person who gets paid much more for the same job comes down to a single element: personal branding.

Did you know that experts with good personal branding are worth 14x more to buyers?

That’s right — as strong as your skillset is, it stands no match against powerful self-promotion and publicly visible expertise.

Branding is essential, and 50.6% of those surveyed prioritize it highly. It's more than logos; it's creating a consistent image and videography that earns the client's trust.


Yet, many personal branding professionals make the same mistakes, causing them to lose their hard-earned reputation.

So today, let’s explore 3 golden rules for personal branding and the 10 mistakes that can trip you along the way.

Without further ado…

The 3 golden rules of personal branding

#1. Pick your focus and stick to it

This may seem like a logical starting point for most, yet man personal brands skip this step entirely. Before starting your brand’s journey, identify your focus and intention. Once you’re clear on your brand’s niche and purpose, stick to it.

Personal brands that continually shift focus or direction become unreliable and quickly lose trust in their audience. On the other hand, brands that confidently stand by their intentions gain trust and form a stronger tribe. 

#2. Build a narrative around your brand

All successful personal brands have a story, and yours should, too. This narrative initially attracts your audience as they relate to you and your story. Ideally, your story should tie into your personal brand’s main focus.


source: van-haaften.nl

When it comes to your narrative, make it as distinct as possible. Your story needs to stand out among countless other brand stories. Don’t fabricate anything, but also don’t hold anything back — the more unique, the better.

#3. You’ve defined your brand – now live it

Assuming you’ve defined your brand’s focus and developed a unique story, it’s now time to live your brand. You’re an ambassador now, so your everyday actions should reflect that of a thought leader.

How you speak with people, the way you act, and even the thoughts you share will be scrutinized as your brand increases in popularity. Like it or not, you are now your brand, so get out there and be the best brand ambassador you can be.

10 major personal branding mistakes to avoid in 2024

#1. Personal brand lacking authenticity

When customers “buy into” a personal brand, it’s under the assumption that the brand is authentic and aligns with their values. Simply put, if your personal views and skillset don’t align with your brand, you’ll lack credibility and seem inauthentic.

Sticking to your guns is essential in personal branding to cultivate a loyal customer base. Your audience will be watching intently to ensure:

  • Your actions align with your beliefs;
  • You aren’t copying other personal brands;
  • Your commitment/s and ideals are unwavering;
  • You only work with like-minded brands/businesses.

The moment your audience is suspicious that you’re just playing a role, they’ll disappear. However, if your personal brand is based on your own values and skills, it’s relatively easy to maintain your reputation.

#2. Poor online presence

Whether you agree with it or not, online presence is a necessary evil for many personal branding professionals. In our tech-savvy world, social media presence can massively affect sales. PWC reported that 46% of consumers are making purchases via social media.

You must regularly post on various forms of online media:

  • Set up social media accounts, all under the same name;
  • Build a website for your portfolio and personal brand;
  • Write guest posts for publications in your industry;
  • Collaborate online with like-minded brands.

Just as important as what you post is where. The same users that are on Facebook every day aren’t the same users you’ll find on Reddit. Find the social media or forum where your target audience exists and focus on that.

#3. Poorly defined target audience

If you’re having trouble finding your audience, it’s likely because you haven’t defined your ideal target audience. Until you know the ins and outs of your target audience, you’ll have an incredibly hard time getting their attention.

Start by defining the type of user you want to attract to your brand:

  • What are their ages, occupations, socio-economic backgrounds, and interests?
  • Do they share a common set of values?
  • Which products/services do they use?
  • Where do they meet and chat online?

source: exposureninja.com

Once you have a clear picture of your ideal audience member, tailor your brand to suit. Remember not to fake it! If you feel you need to fake your brand to suit your audience, you’ve picked the wrong audience.

#4. Lacking engagement with the audience

This leads us to an important aspect of maintaining a loyal audience: engagement. In the personal branding field, self-promotion is unavoidable, but you get to choose how you do it.

Your brand reputation is your most fragile yet crucial asset. Weber Shandwick found that 60% of a company’s market value can be attributed to its reputation. This points to how important healthy audience engagement is for building a brand.

No one wants to read ad after ad about you and your brand, but instead gain valuable insights and expert tips. If you’re not ready to be a thought leader, personal branding may not be your calling.

#5. Brand inconsistency

The schedule of a personal branding professional can get crazy, but amid the chaos, your brand’s voice must remain the same. Consumers want to place their trust in and purchase from consistent brands. 

This includes:

  • Producing consistent, high-quality content;
  • Posting at regular times on social media;
  • Adopting the same tone of voice on each platform;
  • Only sharing or writing posts that align with your brand.

All too often, personal brands gain popularity and, somewhere along the way, lose their focus. In branding, consistency is key to cultivating loyalty in your audience and ensuring your brand doesn’t lose direction.

#6. Not taking advantage of Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

There’s a simple reason SEO teams around the world obsess over Google Search Analytics. In our online world, where over 90% of searches are done via Google, neglecting Google’s Search Analytics is a death wish for brands.

Once set up, Google’s Search Console gives you crucial data:

  • Clicks, searches, behaviors, and backgrounds of your audience;
  • Overall website performance and SEO metrics;
  • Internal and external links to your website;
  • Sitemaps, security issues, and more.

To many, SEO can seem like a pseudoscience, as results take a while to show or don’t at all. However, if you optimize your site with keywords, SEO structure, meta tags, and more, it won’t be long before you spot your site in the top results of Google.

#7. Brand becoming unrelatable

You’ve no doubt seen it before — a reputable company ages, but rather than keep with the times, it stumbles backward into irrelevancy. As important as reputation and consistency are, you need to maintain your brand’s relatability.

Personal brands can remain relatable if they:

  • Stay up to date with modern values;
  • Participate in viral trends before they’ve lost relevancy;
  • Ensure the visual components of the brand are updated regularly;
  • Engage with their audience over current issues.

source: brandloom.com

One of the worst things you can do to your personal brand is bore your audience. By keeping a finger on the pulse, branding professionals can stay relevant and preserve their target audience over time.

#8. Not offering transparency

Around the world, there is an increasingly loud call for transparency, especially from small businesses and personal brands. Earn some brownie points from your audience by getting ahead of this trend.

Even if you’re a team of people, own it. Now more than ever, consumers want brands they can trust. With so many corporations openly betraying this trust, consumers want to place their loyalty in a brand that owns their actions.

If you can make your entire operations transparent, you’ll earn a lot of respect from your audience. There are a few things you can make transparent without risking your security:

  • Day-to-day operations;
  • Your personal journey;
  • Brand’s goals and values;
  • Failures or mistakes made;
  • Background processes and supply chains.

#9. Disregarding face-to-face networking

As business migrates to a predominately online space, face-to-face networking is being left in the dust. Nevertheless, according to a LinkedIn survey, almost 80% of professionals consider networking vital to their career success.

So why do so many brands neglect this traditional way of gaining business contacts? Whether it’s considered old-fashioned or not, there is still a gold mine to be discovered in face-to-face networking with other personal brands.

Sometimes, it will lead to collaboration, and sometimes, it will just earn you friends in high places. Offline engagement, like networking, can boost your brand’s professional standing and earn you some powerful business connections.

#10. Not investing in brand growth and development

It’s not enough to stay relevant and be consistent — personal brands require growth and development. This is the crucial moment you need to decide where to invest your time and money into your brand.

There are various investments you can make in your brand:

  • Education and skill upgrades;
  • Networking opportunities like conferences, seminars, etc.;
  • Business coaching;
  • A Content Marketing team.

One particularly ignored investment in personal branding is in the individuals themselves. Remember that self-care and health will always create a greater motivation and drive for work. The healthier you are, the healthier your personal brand.

BONUS TIP: Protect your brand with a secure work environment

While we’re on the topic of personal branding mistakes, we’d be remiss not to mention your cybersecurity. It’s often disregarded in the personal branding space, but cybersecurity is becoming essential for successful brands.

With so many competitors out there, personal brands are common targets for cyber-attacks and data breaches. Click here to discover how a Virtual Private Network (VPN) can protect your brand from cybercriminals.

Wrapping up…

The long road toward building a successful personal brand is filled with obstacles that can hinder your progress. Learning to avoid these mistakes is pivotal in creating a brand that lasts the test of time.

By offering expertise, authenticity, and consistency, you’ll soon propel your personal brand into the mainstream.

So, have you ever made one of the mistakes listed here?

Vasyl Holiney
Vasyl Holiney
Vasyl is a Product Marketing Manager at MySignature with experience in SEO and Growth. He has been featured on HubSpot, The Next Web, ActiveCampaign, and other well-known marketing blogs.