Regardless of the industry, the medium, or whether you choose to build a personal brand or a personality-driven brand, the opportunity to establish a direct connection between creator and consumer is an invaluable asset for any business. Let’s look at 7 captivating personal brand examples and their creators who have taken these personal brands to inspiring heights.
1. Personal Brand Example: Violette_FR
From being told “stop being so creative, you’ll never be in Vogue.” to… being in Vogue, Violette_FR almost feels like a personal branding fairytale.
The makeup artist turned beauty industry icon took an unorthodox path to get her start working for some of the top business brands in the industry: “I became the International Makeup Designer for Dior. I worked on product development for Sephora. I became the Global Beauty Director for Estée Lauder. ” Then, she leveraged those years of experience as a trajectory to create and launch her own personal brand.
Violette has amassed a loyal following through consumer-centric marketing that started with a Youtube channel and has continued to be at the core of her brand. In fact, she’s so good at connecting with her followers, that she’s made part of her online shop experience interactive, allowing consumers to choose their products based on their feelings. This single screenshot from their site is a master class in the art of emotional marketing, and is one of the many reasons Violette_FR is high on this list of personal brand examples.
What Julia Child did with French cooking, Violette is doing with French makeup: making it more approachable. The brand’s voice and first-person language woven throughout the website make it feel like this founder is speaking directly to us. Their newsletter, for example, is described as “a weekly love note from your French best friend” – it’s that personal connection and approachability that makes Violette_FR stand out as a fresh and friendly face in a historically competitive industry.
2. Personal Brand Example: Oh Joy!
Twice named one of Time’s 30 Most Influential People on the Internet, Joy Cho boasts 15 million followers on Pinterest (and no, that’s not a typo). She is the founder and creative director of Oh Joy!, which she’s grown from a small design studio to an internationally renowned lifestyle brand.
And despite just how big her brand has become, it continues to feel grounded and personal. How does this personal brand example manage to do that? With blog posts like “What I do Not Love About My Job” and “What I Love About My Job” it’s clear that with Oh Joy! we can expect to see the positive and the negative, making this brand both relatable and aspirational, and proving once again that authenticity is vital for longevity.
Joy Cho’s quirky personality is present in the aesthetic of her personal brand, from the products in her shop to the bright pops of color splashed throughout (not to mention, the name Joy in and of itself sets a pretty playful tone). From books to courses to blogs, and constant creative collaborations with some of the biggest business brands around, Oh Joy! is the epitome of a self-made success story, and shows us that when it comes to personal branding, a social media platform can fuel a solid foundation.
3. Personal Brand Example: Paul Smith
With over 50 years on the scene, Paul Smith is still “the designer, master shopkeeper and majority shareholder of Paul Smith” but clearly, it’s far from being a solo operation, as it’s grown to more than 130 shops in 60 countries. And still, this iconic, worldwide brand manages to remain personal (having his signature as the logo is a pretty genius place to start).
Again, as we saw with Violette_FR personal brand example, the Paul Smith website shows the importance of creating connection through engaging touchpoints. In the “What makes you happy” campaign seen here, consumers are asked to define their own version of happiness. In turn, the brand becomes a reflection of its followers and allows for the kind of natural evolution that’s needed to stay relevant over the course of five decades.
Garance Doré started her career as an illustrator and went on to create a fashion blog that changed… everything? Since then, she’s been named one of the 30 Most Powerful Women in Fashion, has worked with all of the biggest brands across the beauty and fashion industries, and went on to become one herself.
Much like the personality-centered authenticity seen in Joy Cho’s personal brand example, Garance Doré continues to share candid photos and daily, diary-like observations with her followers, thus maintaining that sense of a personal connection regardless of how big the brand has become. In other words, Doré hasn’t lost touch with the unique voice that brought about the brand’s initial appeal, but the voice itself has evolved with time.
Doré’s quote above reminds us that personal branding can be flexible. Change is an asset that can empower personal brands to reimagine themselves and to remain relevant while enabling creators to stay tapped into what inspires them.
5. Marc Jacobs
A conversation about personal brand examples wouldn’t be complete without the mention of Marc Jacobs. In fact, he’s probably his own conversation. Marc Jacobs’ name is synonymous with fashion, and his brand continues to be at the forefront of style and trendsetting after 30+ years.
As a designer, Marc Jacobs made a name for himself by blurring the typical boundaries of style to create a whole new cross-genre aesthetic (never underestimate the importance of a fresh take and unique point of view!). Over the years, this personal brand example has successfully evolved from runway shows to brick and mortar shops and has expanded from clothing to fragrance, to accessories. It’s done what so many brands dream of achieving by creating an accessible, department store line in addition to their high-end wear without distilling their unmistakable aesthetic or compromising their exclusive reputation.
If you really want to be inspired, you can find the timeline of Jacobs’ career trajectory here. It’s a step-by-step history of the brand from inception to cultural icon.
6. Marie Forleo
Every successful brand has a message. In the case of Marie Forleo, the word message might not even be strong enough. According to her website: “It’s a philosophy of relentless optimism. A mindset. A mantra. A conviction.”
From a one-woman show to dozens of employees, Marie Forleo has grown over the years from being a coach to having a cult-like following. Her brand includes best-selling books, a blog, online courses, MarieTV, a podcast, and an impressive list of supporters, including the likes of Oprah and Michelle Obama.
But how did she become so captivating?
One noteworthy tactic from this personal brand example is in its voice. The website is a gold standard for creating urgency through language, and it uses intensely direct copy as a power tool that prompts people into action and leaves no room for self-sabotaging excuses (which is exactly what Marie Forleo’s brand is all about).
And because Marie is the face of the brand, these kinds of strategies feel empowering rather than pushy – it brings us into the fold of a successful entrepreneur and simultaneously reinforces the singular vision of the brand.
Again, like Joy Cho, Marie isn’t afraid to share in her failures: “After several failed attempts at corporate jobs… I realized that my unusual combination of interests and skills was a strength, not a liability.” And that’s the beauty of personal branding: if what you’ve got doesn’t fit into a box, build your own vessel that plays to your strengths.
The vessel might not work for the masses – as Marie says outright about her personal brand: “we’re decidedly not for everyone.” But that kind of exclusivity factor is one way to zero in on a niche.
On the other side of that spectrum is the personal brand example of Rana Salam.
7. Rana Salam
Rather than focusing on a super-specific type of clientele, Rana Salam’s brand seems to find its power in having a broad, interdisciplinary range with successful design collaborations across a myriad of industries from architecture to fashion and from hospitality to retail. On top of all that, she’s incorporated her own product line into the brand as well and offers an extensive scope of services from branding to space design.
This brand’s entirely digital and physical footprint is a feast for the eyes, so when the website says things like: “we create great graphics” or “great eye-catching packaging” there’s an immediate connection made in our minds that this is a confident brand whose actions and intentions feel perfectly aligned. The site, much like her own work, is an eclectic tapestry where imagination meets application across cultures and in varying mediums.
Another impressive feat in this personal brand example is Rana Salam’s ability to seamlessly combine the past and present into something that feels totally new. As we explored this cross-genre approach in Marc Jacobs’ brand, Rana Salam applies a fresh perspective to her work by reviving Middle East Vintage Style with a contemporary take.
This kind of elasticity really lends itself to personal branding, where a logo brand might fall short (uniqueness over uniformity).
Although it’s become somewhat of a buzzword in recent years, personal branding isn’t about coining a catchphrase or taking selfies, or plastering your face across all of your social pages. In fact, it’s the opposite. Personal branding is about creating authentic connections with people through your unique lens.
But in order to find that unique lens, you first need to uncover your authentic points and narrow in on them. This will give you focus and the center of gravity your personal brand needs to withstand the winds of competition. Then, you can take the next steps of personal branding in order to give your brand the wings it needs to fly into the new territories!
These steps are: crystallize your message, solidify your voice, and work out your brand’s style in order to build a personal brand that captivates, creates connection, and has serious staying power.
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