18 effective personal branding examples done right

Get inspired and learn from the effective personal branding examples of people like Bill Nye, Shaun White, and Charli Marie.

Jeff Cardello
June 20, 2019
Inspiration

Success is often built on strong personal branding — because it immediately tells us who a person is and where their expertise lies. Personal branding isn't limited to those in the public sphere. Regardless of who you are, you can showcase your talents. We've curated a list of excellent examples of well-defined personal brands to inspire your own.

1. Elon Musk

Tesla homepage.

Elon Musk’s name is almost as well known as Coca-Cola. Even if you have no interest in technology, it’s hard to avoid the brand that is Mr. Musk.

Having a personal brand does make you a public figure and thus very much subject to criticisms of your public statements. Elon has been criticized for spending huge amounts of money with little return and for publicity stunts like shooting a Tesla into space that give the appearance of being more about ego than science. Regardless of how you feel about him, it's undeniable that his drive and follow-through have shown us technologies yet to be invented and a whole universe whose mysteries are left to discover.

Though he’s a public figure, his recognizable face is absent from Tesla.com. Instead, shiny products and clear copy are what make his innovative brand unmistakable. Behind all this fascinating gadgetry is extensive research, development, and a team of bright engineers chosen by Mr. Musk. There may not be any photos of him, but his presence touches every part of his site.

2. Gary Vaynerchuk

Gary Vaynerchuck homepage.

If hustle were a religion, Gary Vaynerchuk might be its messiah. No, he doesn't perform miracles, but he did turn the family liquor store into an ecommerce empire. It’s the kind of success story that gives anyone with entrepreneurial aspirations hope.

Becoming an influencer through social media, Gary's story has humble beginnings with hard work and dedication leading him to success. He embodies authenticity and self-determinism. From creating content on platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and LinkedIn, he positions himself as someone who’s grounded and wants you to achieve success on your own terms. He is also the co-founder of VaynerMedia.

A strong identity gives people confidence in what you do. It’s the reason we reach for brand-name products at the supermarket — we know what we’re getting. No surprises. The product’s value and selling points are proven and well-known. Your own personal brand should be just as recognizable.

3. Charli Marie

Charli Marie homepage.

Charli Marie was a student of design when she started a Tumblr dedicated to the pop punk band Fall Out Boy. This fan page was created from a love for the band and a desire to connect with other like-minded fans. Her popularity on Tumblr led to a t-shirt brand of her very own.

Charli wrote about the rise and fall of her t-shirt business. She doesn’t focus on the momentum her company lost, but instead frames it as an important step in her journey as a designer. For those with a creative idea that appears to serve no other purpose than scratching a fun itch, Charli’s Tumblr story inspires follow through — you never know what opportunities a fan page for your favorite pop punk band could bring.

Today Charli works remotely for Convertkit, hosts a successful YouTube channel, and has made a life for herself full of travel and fun. Her upbeat personality and design skills are central to her personal brand. She serves as another fantastic example that there’s more than one path to success.

4. Alice Thorpe

Alice Thorpe homepage.

Alice Thorpe describes herself on her YouTube channel as a “freelance graphic designer stumbling through life one pixel at a time.” Alice isn't afraid to poke fun at herself, and this self-referential tagline is a perfect introduction.

She produces a lot of content for designers on YouTube and on her own website. She’s the kind of expert that never talks down to her audience. Her brand is casual and funny. This, combined with her skills makes for entertaining and informative content.

An important part of a brand's identity is voice — think Apple, Progressive, and McDonald's. How they speak to their target audience gives us a sense of their personality. Your brand voice should be authentic and Alice does a great job of consistently communicating her personality through all her fantastic content.


5. Nesha Woolery

Nesha Woolery homepage.

Nesha Woolery's site greets us with "Hey designer lady!", speaking directly to the audience she hopes to reach. With skills in project management and organization, Nesha offers online courses, videos, and articles targeting female designers. She offers a specialized service to a specific demographic with a light, breezy design that complements her own personal brand aesthetic.

6. XO Pixel

XO Pixel homepage.

XO Pixel creates content about design, code, and tech. Their design features splashes of fun colors with an imaginative approach that shows off their creativity. Their free content is well-informed and helpful, working to prove their value and promote their paid membership. Branding isn’t a shallow pursuit based on razzle-dazzle, and XO Pixel shows they have substance.


7. Bill Nye

Bill Nye homepage.

Bill Nye may be known for his bowties and science-dad jokes, but beneath the veneer of his popular appeal is a man who values increasing awareness and appreciation of science. His enthusiasm for reason and objective thinking are as important to his personal brand as his skills as an entertainer.

His stage persona is the affable, goofy, uber-nerd. His background as a mechanical engineer elevates him from TV persona blowing up test tubes full of colorful liquids to trusted expert.

While his site promotes his books and online store, most of the content is science-related and accessible — even to those who’ve never donned a lab coat.

8. Brian Dean

Backlinko homepage.

In an internet crammed with SEO “experts,” mystics with the supposed power to increase your web traffic by a gazillion percent, it's difficult to know who to believe.

Brian Dean is an internet blogger and the real deal when it comes to Google SEO. With well-thought-out content, testimonials from actual people, and an absence of sketchy ads, his website positions him as a credible expert. His personal brand is all about trust.

9. Tony Robbins

Tony Robbins, homepage.

Love him or loathe him, it would be hard to find anyone unfamiliar with Tony Robbins and his brand of financial self-help thanks to his prolific output of books, seminars, and other content. And of course let’s not forget about his charisma, energy, and that mouthful of beautiful teeth.

If you haven't been keeping up with him, your brain might still conjure the 1990s version of Tony in all of his loud, energetic glory parading in front of his adoring fans. Maybe walking barefoot over hot coals? But his identity changed with the times. He’s no longer screaming in full volume — he’s more sophisticated and subdued. His current website doesn't position him as the boisterous self-help guru of the past, but instead as a financial teacher for the current climate.

He looks more like someone in tech than a bellowing prophet of self-empowerment. Mirroring the site’s dark color palette, Tony dons a professional, button-down look and a knowing grin that downplays his toothy smile. His site showcases a personal brand that’s contemporary and relevant, eschewing the flash and pizzaz of the past.


10. Melyssa Griffin

Melyssa Griffin homepage.

Melyssa Griffin defines her mission as helping “heart-centered high achievers grow their income and impact online.” This summary communicates who she is, appeals to entrepreneurial aspirations, and connects on an emotional level.  

Her about page further reinforces her personal brand when she says, “I believe you deserve happiness, respect, and love. And I’m determined to give you the tools to create those feelings in every crevice and cranny of your existence.” She delivers on this message with expertise and spunk woven into her quality content.

11. Shaun White

Shaun White homepage.

By the time Shaun White was 7 years old, he was sponsored by Burton Snowboards. He’s remained on the cusp of innovation throughout his career, flinging himself from the lips of halfpipes, spinning in ways no other snowboarders ever have. His time twisting in the air has brought him countless victories at the X Games and Olympic Games. He brings this same drive to skateboarding.

His brand is about going higher and faster than anyone else. He thrives on competition and the desire to win. Shaun’s brand — like many professional athletes’ — is founded on the brilliance of what he can do with his body. Fans aren’t interested in longform passages describing what Shaun does. They come to see these examples of gravity-defying feats of athleticism. Shaun’s website delivers.

12. Tim Ferriss

Tim Ferriss homepage.

Tim Feriss made his mark in the world of financial self-help with his book, The 4-Hour Work Week. His brand is about the smart subversion of traditional employment and empowering people to defy convention and blaze their own paths to success.

Even for those rolling their eyes at the notion of a four-hour work week, there’s a lot of great advice in his content. His personal brand is that of a wiley disruptor. For those on a non-traditional career path, Tim positions himself as both a leader and teacher. He is also the host of The Tim Ferriss Show – an amazing podcast for personal growth and business.

13. Roberto Blake

Roberto Blake

Roberto Blake is the embodiment of entrepreneurial achievement. He runs his own agency, Create Awesome Media, has published over 1200 videos, and develops curriculum to help those driven by creativity and independence.

His site design is full of his creative energy, personality, and intelligence that will inspire any designer to put in the time and effort to build a career around their true passions.

14. Martha Stewart

Martha Stewart homepage.

Martha Stewart’s brand touches so many different pursuits. She’s a great cook, has an eye for interior design, and a zest for gardening. There’s a consistency in what she creates whether it’s a recipe for chicken pasta, or a palette of paint colors — her sense of delicate sophistication is a part of everything she makes.

Where some people with established brands may put a bit less effort into their web presence, Martha does the opposite. She’s not known to take it easy. Her site is full of recipes, DIY projects, entertainment ideas, and other lifestyle-related content all oozing her personality. Her ongoing output keeps her brand going strong today.

15. Casey Neistat

Casey Neistat homepage.

Casey Neistat’s site design consists of whitespace and a few outbound links, because he’s “not entirely sure what purpose a website would serve someone like me so this page is here to redirect you to more interesting places.” Even if you have no idea who Casey is, the message is clear — he’s not one to follow conventions.

With over 11 million YouTube subscribers and an impressive social media following, Casey’s videos are enough to communicate his personal brand of rebellion. It’s apparent that he’s driven by instinct and intelligence. He’s spent his career overachieving, pushing against those who’ve told him he can’t do things. He’s a vlogger (video blogger), founded the media company Beme, and has received praise from big-name outlets like Forbes.

His content is unapologetic in its brashness and he’s driven by the mantra, “Do what you can’t.” He’s spent his life pushing against the haters and triumphed over negativity through brute force. He encourages his audience to go after what’s important without hesitation.

16. Mindy Kaling

Mindy Kaling homepage.

As a writer, actor, and producer, Mindy Kaling's work has made so many of us laugh. She’s established herself as someone whose creative output is about smart comedy that punches up against Hollywood and societal norms. Her personal brand is multifaceted and isn’t limited to labeling her as a writer, feminist, or actor. Even though there are so many aspects to what makes Mindy amazing, her brand offers a clear idea of who she is and what matters to her.

17. Satori Graphics

Satori Graphics homepage.

Derrick Mitchell, the guy behind Satori Graphics, shows that he's looking to the future of design, rather than clinging to the outdated practices of the past.

The trailer video at the top of Satori's YouTube channel pulses with the buzz of a hip electronic dance music soundtrack, showing quick edits of what they’re capable of. The work featured on the Satori Graphics website shows a modern, stylized design approach that’s balanced with practicality. Consistency is so important to a brand’s identity — Satori Graphics never drops their fresh approach in the content and design they produce.

18. Billie Eilish

Billie Eilish homepage.

Remember when pop stars were simple? The Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, and the Spice Girls weren’t exactly known for their layers. Now that I’ve totally dated myself, with age comes wisdom, right? Growing up with everything that was saccharine and fake about pop stars gives this Gen Xer an appreciation for what makes an artist like Billie Eillish special.

Billie Eilish is equal parts awkward and ego. She can be infuriating and likable all within ten seconds of an interview. Her music flirts with experimentalism while still being within the lines of pop sensibilities. She’s complicated both in her music and who she is.

Her official website leads you into a 360 animation of what could be her bedroom. Sneakers, cartoon-like drawings pinned to the wall, and a skull all add to what feels like the living space of a teenager from another dimension. It’s a surreal, disorienting page to navigate, much like her music. Her personal brand of quirk is almost anti-brand — it’s what makes her music and aesthetic easy to recognize.

Marketing the product that is you

No matter who you are, you can benefit from putting effort into your own personal branding. Don't laugh! Whether it's a portfolio, blog, or a dating profile, you're telling us who your are. Why not amplify all that’s awesome about you? Build your personal brand on your strengths. Sell yourself through authenticity and good intentions — show those interested all that you have to offer.

Jeff Cardello

Word nerd, comedy geek, and design fan. Check me out @JCardello.

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