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8 lessons from celebrities with great personal brands

Mary Lorenz | December 5, 2016

celebrities personal brands

Learn personal branding tips from famous celebrities to get ahead in your career.

What do Oprah, Beyoncé, Martha Stewart, LeBron James, Jennifer Aniston, Taylor Swift and Justin Timberlake all have in common? Besides their multi-million-dollar worth, millions of Twitter and Instagram followers, and countless endorsement deals, none of these celebrities need an introduction. Why? Because each is a master of personal branding.

Personal branding is the practice of marking yourself and your career as a brand. By creating strong personal brands, the aforementioned celebrities are famous for more than just their talent, but also for the values, attributes and ideas they represent.

But personal branding isn't just for the rich and famous; creating your own personal brand can help you forge ahead in your own career and reach new professional heights. Just follow these lessons set by celebrities with strong personal brands.

1. Define your brand. Celebrities like Oprah, Lady Gaga and Justin Timberlake may be household names, but they didn't become famous by accident. These celebrities have put effort into defining their brand for others (as opposed to letting others define them). To define your own personal brand, you need to know yourself. What do you want to be known for? What do you value? What are you passionate about? The answers to these questions will help you shape your brand.

2. Offer something unique. Lady Gaga is known for her outrageous costumes and stage presence; and Martha Stewart makes an afternoon snack look like Thanksgiving dinner at the White House; and LeBron James earned the nickname "King James" (and a hefty endorsement deal with Nike) for his prowess on the basketball court. Each of these celebrities offer something that stands out from others in their field. What makes you stand out?

3. Hone your craft first. Don't try to be everything to everyone. She may have multi-million-dollar endorsement deals, a clothing line and a side gig as an "American Idol" judge today, but Jennifer Lopez started out as an actress. Only after she established herself and gained credibility in her field did she launch her music career and pursue other business ventures. The lesson: Pick one thing you want to be known for and focus on being the best at that first.

4. Create opportunities for yourself. In addition to starring in movies, hosting talk shows or dropping albums, many celebrities widen their exposure with endorsement deals to sell products and agree to put their name on everything from clothing to fragrances to alcohol. Likewise, you should be finding ways to broaden your exposure to different audiences. Start a blog or offer to guest blog on someone else's. Apply to be a speaker at industry events. Write a book. Start a podcast. Do anything you can (that is true to your brand) to get your name out there and further establish yourself as an expert in your field.

5. Make friends in high places. Taylor Swift has Selena Gomez and the rest of her "squad," Jennifer Aniston has Courtney Cox and Chelsea Handler, and Martha Stewart has Snoop Dogg. Celebrities with powerful personal brands surround themselves with other powerful celebrities. The lesson? Build your network with professionals you admire and whose level of success you aspire to. Of course, this is easier said than done, as making connections and building relationships takes time and effort - not to mention the relationship should be mutually beneficial.

6. Be savvy about social media. Celebrities like Rihanna, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry have tons of followers on social media, but they are strategic about what they choose to put out into the world. They know how they want to be perceived and cater their posts accordingly. Consider doing the same with your own social media accounts. The next time you post, link, upload or tweet, really think about what you are putting out there, and what you are presenting to the world in general (and potential employers in particular). Is it in keeping with what you want your brand to be?

7. Be authentic. While you want to stand out, you also don't want to try to be something you're not. People can spot inauthenticity a mile away, and the minute they sense it in you, you will lose their trust. Know you who are and own it. Stay true to yourself, just as these celebrities have done.

8. Be patient. You can't create a personal brand overnight. It takes time and continuous effort to build it.