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How Personal Branding Supports Competitive Advantage

By Julie Livingston, WantLeverage Communications

When clients come to me, they almost always have the same two priorities:

  1. Maintain or establish an industry leadership position

  2. Increase their executive visibility on LinkedIn

For both B2Bs and consumer brands, fostering trust with customers is how industry leaders build brand affinity and longevity. But, customers today are more discerning. Before they buy they want to know about a company’s values and what it stands for as well as the people behind it. This is why it’s an imperative for business leaders to create their own personal brand identity.

What's Personal Branding?

A personal brand involves spelling out your core values, such as integrity, empathy and culture. Your personal brand shows people another side of the business, demonstrates who you are as a human being and the values that you stand up to, as well as your distinctive qualities — which gives customers additional reasons to do business with you. (Danielle calls this Personality Brand)

Brand You

Having a distinctive personal brand allows customers to get to know and develop a deeper relationship with you, which feels a lot better than something more transactional. People today want to know that the people behind the brands they favor are in alignment with their own values. Executives who allow their personality and values to shine through are giving insight into their company mission while differentiating their value.

Build Fans and Followers

Maintaining a strong digital presence is paramount in any business today. By sharing information about who you are, your expertise, how you do business, and even how your organization gives back to society, you are setting up your company for greater success. Articulating and promoting your personal brand helps customers to form an opinion about your products and services before they buy.

Use LinkedIn as a PR Platform

My clients are actively using LinkedIn to promote their personal brand and connect with current and potential customers. To begin, we identify their personal brand values — what drives them and defines their personality. Then we develop content pillars to express those values such as transformative leadership, mental health or company culture. Posting at least 1-3 times a week on consecutive days and using the right hashtags, we build an audience and engagement around their content. Leaders appreciate the direct contact they can establish with customers and prospects on LinkedIn, which helps them to broaden their sphere of influence…and eventually, market share.

Who are You?

To build a personal brand, start by identifying who you are and your place/seniority in the industry. What are the words people use to describe you? Keep these on file and use them to guide your tone, which will illuminate your persona. What do you want to be known for? If you had a motto, what would it be? Should your personal brand stand for transformative leadership, mental health, innovation or company culture? Take ownership of these values and align them with a solid content strategy to allow people to get a sense of you and your uniqueness.

Choose your Social Platform

Most customers today do extensive online research before making a purchase decision. While it’s not necessary to be on every social media platform, it’s critical to be on the platforms where your customers gravitate to get information. For my B2B clients, that usually means LinkedIn and YouTube. Build out your content for these platforms using graphical assets that give people a window into your personality and show you in action at work and occasionally, in your personal life (remember, this is a business platform and not Facebook!).

Formulate Thought Leadership

Start the thought leadership development process by reviewing your core values and aligning them with resonant content pillars. These subject areas will ensure consistency and help you to stay on track in your thought leadership. Take time to identify your strengths as they relate to your work role. How do you stand up to your peers? How do you treat people at work, how do you communicate, how do you navigate difficult situations and how do you give feedback?

Measuring Success

How will you know if your personal branding and thought leadership are hitting the right notes? First, identify the content themes that people are responding to with the most “Likes,” comments and reposts. By tracking this over time, you’ll begin to see trends. When people are commenting (and be sure to respond to their comments), how in depth are their remarks? The more detailed the comments, the deeper the level of engagement. Beyond metrics, one of the most powerful indicators will be anecdotal feedback. When people in your network come up to you and say, “I really enjoy your content,” or “I feel like I know you,” you’re right on target.

How have you established your personal brand? You can start by downloading my free tip sheet.

Project your Personality, Win More Clients

Such a blast chatting with Julie on her PR Patter LinkedIn Live and podcast. Here's what we got into:

- Importance of Personality Branding

- Identification of Personal Core Values

- How to bring more of YOU into your messaging without being cheesy and "promotional"

- How to profit from your personality

and more!

Julie Livingston is president of WantLeverage Communications, an entrepreneurial PR and LinkedIn marketing consultancy based in New York City. She helps senior executives and businesses leverage the public relations power of LinkedIn to promote their thought leadership and industry stature, build a sense of community and belonging among employees.

A member of LinkedIn Advisors, Julie is a three-time board member of NY Women in Communications. She holds an MS in Communications Management from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Comunications. Her thought leadership on LinkedIn as a PR platform has been featured on Morning Brew’s Good Work humor series (Why is LinkedIn So Weird? And Who Can Write a LinkedIn Post In A Minute?) and in PR News, CommPro.Biz, ASAE and other industry publications. Visit her at


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