I am a self confessed brand junkie. I have worked with companies large and small, high profile individuals, celebrities and everything in between. One of the most important things you will learn is that your brand is your story. Whether you want to impress co-workers, business partners, potential employers, or consumers, your personal brand is an important way to sell yourself.
Given the personal brand's central role in establishing a compelling story, it can be tempting to embellish details or fabricate stories altogether. However, this can lead to a world of trouble, and will ultimately undermine the story you're trying to communicate to the world.
The most compelling stories are true.
While you might be able to come up with some fascinating tales, the most compelling stories are the true ones. The emotion and morals of stories you've truly experienced and lived will shine through. The ones you make up might get a rise out of people, or even engage them for the time being, but it's inevitable that those tall tales will come crashing down eventually.
While you might not think your own experiences are fascinating, other people will. The most important part of a story is how you tell it, and good branding is really just good storytelling. Take the energy you would otherwise put into embellishing or fabricating stories and apply it to the way you weave honest narratives about yourself. The best personal brands communicate something genuine to the audience, so make sure you put a piece of your real self out there.
Spinning tall tales will only come back to bite you.
Sure, maybe a fictionalized sensation about yourself could grab some attention. And you might even be able to get away with your lie for quite a while. However, the fallout from when your story is discovered will be immense and painful. Don't go the route of countless others.
Many high-profile media personalities have fallen victim to the allure of hype. On a personal level, being the subject of a riveting story that drives a lot of attention is often gratifying. When those stories garner media success, however, it can also further your career and drive your economic fortunes. The temptation of writing fiction about yourself can be strong, but resisting it is crucial to retain your credibility. Otherwise, dishonesty will become part of your personal brand when you're found out, and that's a stain that's hard to clean.
Don't tell half-truths.
It's not even outright lies that will undermine a personal brand; sooner or later, someone will be able to tell if you're being disingenuous. To forge a genuine connection with your intended audience, you need to be direct and unambiguous, lest there be any confusion about your sincerity and transparency.
Peppering a real story with embellishments or entertaining lies can haunt you the same way complete fabrications can. Again, you want to avoid tarnishing your credibility. Once the label "liar" is hung around your neck, it's often impossible to remove. Don't deceive your audience. If you find yourself asking "should I do this?" you probably shouldn't.
Positive brand building.
If you want to promote a positive personal brand, then you should live it. If you want to be seen as a philanthropist, donate your money and/or your time. If part of your personal narrative is that you know how to overcome adversity, than you should regularly do so, even if it's easier to throw your hands up and walk away.
Construct your personal brand around your strengths, be open about your weaknesses, and be honest about your history. That way, the audience really gets to know you, at least a little bit, and you foster a sense of a genuine relationship. After all, that's what the audience (and you) are after when it comes to personal branding: a relatable emotional connection.
A personal brand needs to be engaging, compelling, and overall appealing on a large scale. However, what it shouldn't be is dishonest. Sincerity and integrity are key pieces of any good personal brand; figuring out how to tell your own story in a captivating way is the next step. For that, you only need to look inward.