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Throughout my career as a CEO who heads a PR agency (as well as a matchmaking agency tailored to top executives), I’ve come across the personal brands of many high-caliber professionals. Some of these brands -- driven by a well-honed understanding of PR principles -- were (and are) clearly doing quite well.

The others? Not so much.

This observation had me wondering why it is that some personal brands reach dizzying heights while others crumble and fade away, never achieving any real, long-lasting success.

There are many PR ingredients that go into a successful personal brand. But some of these ingredients are arguably more essential than others. Below, I’ll focus on two of these key PR elements that lie beneath many great personal brands (along with a couple of questions to ask yourself about your own personal brand).

1. An Attitude Of Openness

Openness has always been a mainstay of good PR practice. People, after all, tend to trust those who are open and vulnerable with them. And if openness was important for branding efforts in decades bygone, how much more crucial it is in the digital, social-media-driven world that PR inhabits today? 

In fact, the web of the 21st century is largely built on the idea of openness. Peter Merholz, who created the word “blog” in 1999, expressed this well, noting that the modern web is “about relinquishing control, it’s about openness, trust and authenticity. APIs, tags, Ajax, mash-ups and all that are symptoms, outputs, results of this philosophical bent.” Today, more than ever, openness -- meaning a fair degree of transparency about one’s life, likes, interests and so on -- is paramount to the executive looking to enhance the strength of their personal brand.

This doesn’t mean you have to be a total open book to successfully forge a great personal brand, but it does mean that you’re far more likely to be successful if you adopt an overall attitude of openness instead of standoffishness.

So, ask yourself this: How open and transparent is your personal brand?

2. A Distinct Point Of View

Too many personal brands are cookie-cutter brands. In other words, they aren’t bolstered by strong, distinct points of view. Such personal brands try to appease everyone’s viewpoint but end up becoming very, very forgettable.

Here’s how a lot of executives get this wrong when they’re working on their personal brand: They worry that expressing their actual, unique viewpoints on a given topic will be polarizing -- offending some people -- which will hurt their brand. So, they opt to water-down their viewpoints and post more-or-less neutral content.

At first blush, this might seem to make a lot of sense. Why say stuff that may turn people off your brand when you could just keep things neutral and have everyone like you?

But you can’t build a powerful personal brand that way. People are drawn to personal brands that have an edge, and they are drawn to those who aren’t afraid to say exactly what they think.

Of course, this will actually turn some people off – but it’ll also make just as many people flock to your brand, heaping lots of love on it.

Here’s the thing: There are over three hundred million users of the web in North America alone. And there are some 1 billion active users of Instagram -- a favorite platform of mine for shaping my own personal brand. So, with such huge numbers of users, a portion of these will find a reason to take issue with you, regardless of what you express or post online. 

Thus, the strategy of staying neutral is ultimately pointless. If you try to appease everyone, you don’t have a brand.

So, here’s another question to ask yourself: Are you conveying distinct points of view through your personal brand? Or are you holding back? Conclusion

If you’re looking to reap the most benefits from your personal brand, it’s vital that you’re open and transparent with your audience and not afraid to adopt bold points of view that others might disagree with. Personal brands that embrace this suggestion will generally be much more memorable -- and much more compelling -- than brands that do not. SOURCE:

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