Build trust and stand out: The ultimate guide to personal branding

The digital age provides endless opportunities, but with that comes increased competition. According to a 2023 survey, job security is a concern for 66% of executives and 48% of entry-level workers — a yearly increase of 48% and 91%, respectively.

In today’s competitive business environment and tight job market, selling yourself requires a strong personal brand — a unique combination of your skills, values, and the impression you leave on others. Your brand needs to resonate quickly and effectively with your intended audience to create a lasting bond that communicates your value, relevance, and necessity. Leaning on a personal brand expert can give you the objectivity and encouragement you need to bring your authentic self to your audience.

This guide offers expert insight to help you develop your personal brand to keep your authenticity front and center and achieve instant positive impact.

What is a personal brand?

Over the last 12 years, brand strategist Phil Pallen has worked in more than 34 countries with nearly 400 clients to help them create a personal brand they love. Pallen’s business began when someone asked him if he could help figure out social media and build a website for a small business. Since then, Pallen has worked with individuals and small businesses to find what they’re passionate about and mold that energy and excitement into their brand.

A big believer in the in-person experience, Pallen enjoys listening to what people say (your content) and how they say it (your personality). Pallen says his job as a brand strategist is consistent with how he defines branding: Achieving consistency between the in-person experience and the online version of you.

Pallen emphasizes the importance of not exaggerating who you are as you define your personal brand, and he suggests thinking about it like you would your online dating profile. Why are you disappointed after reviewing someone’s bio, reading about them, then meeting them in real life? Because the experience they created online is inconsistent with what you’re experiencing in person.

This experience is also the reality for business. If experiences aren’t consistent, people feel let down, which is where Pallen comes in — to help people recreate the in-person experience online, figure out what makes experiences memorable, and determine their business goals. He folds all these aspects together to create a strategy that helps people build a fulfilling brand and life.

When Pallen started his business, personal branding felt like a luxury, but he never believed that was true. Across various industries and professions, everyone can benefit from taking the time and care to build out their own personal brand.

“People have the ability to take inventory of their passions and pair something they’re passionate about with something people need and are willing to spend money on,” Pallen says. “Every good business satisfies a need.”

Why does a personal brand matter?

Your personal brand can help you better manage your professional development, career, network, and general well-being. One study found that 74% of Americans are more likely to trust someone with an established personal brand. With so many options available to potential clients, your personal brand can help you stand out to your audience.

Not only does a strong personal brand build trust among clients, but it can also create positive change in each person’s life. Pallen moved to Los Angeles in 2011, dreaming of becoming a TV host. When he saw the number of people in line at an audition for one job, he realized he might need to put that dream on the shelf and try a different professional path.

It didn’t happen overnight, but Pallen — now an expert in branding, marketing, and social media — gets to pursue his interests in media, hosting, and creating by helping clients consider and develop a personal brand. Pallen says that because a personal brand can help you discover your passion, people can build a brand that “complements their ideal lifestyles.”

Thanks to his personal brand, Pallen is able to make connections around the world. Even if people decide not to hire him, they can still gain value from him through freebies on his website, worksheets, YouTube videos, email blasts, archived workshops, and more. Pallen loves his job because he enjoys figuring out how to align in-person and online experiences and appreciates the opportunity to impact others positively.

“The ability to have scale that goes beyond a one-to-one interaction is something that I find fascinating and exciting,” Pallen says.

However, personal branding is not always smooth sailing. One of the biggest challenges Pallen has seen is people jumping too quickly into brand promotion without a solid foundation or compelling position. Pallen says one of the biggest mistakes he’s seen people make is being too keen to sell something.

“If you take a house to market that doesn’t have a roof, you only get a fraction of the value that you really deserve,” Pallen says.

Because a personal brand matters, Pallen emphasizes taking the time to build it. You need to be consistent across all your platforms to maintain trust with potential clients. Pallen encourages becoming a specialist at something to be on people’s radars.

In addition to a specialty, Pallen notes that people with strong personal brands almost always have two things — consistency and self-awareness. They have consistency between how they communicate online and how they show up in real life. They know what areas they’re strong in and what makes them memorable. Combining consistency and awareness is one secret to building confidence in your work and yourself, and this translates as part of your personal brand.

In the modern digital world, we exist online more than ever, so creating a space that’s easy to navigate and consistent across all platforms draws more people to your brand and reinforces your unique and individual approach to what you can offer.

Strategies for building a personal brand

While building a personal brand will look slightly different for each individual, you can follow some general strategies immediately to resonate with your audience.

Conduct a brand audit

An expert like Pallen can help you identify what is essential to your brand and what may not be. People can request a brand audit when they have already taken steps to build their business on their own but need input from someone outside of their business.

“My job as a brand strategist is to hold up a mirror and say, ‘Hey, here’s what I see,’” Pallen says. “Here’s what I hear. Here’s how I might sum this up in a few sentences.”

Pallen describes a brand audit as taking an overstuffed purse and dumping out all the items to identify what is important and what needs to go. He says that this process can be difficult to do alone since we are all close to our things, so he often looks to others for ideas, strategy, and perspective on what’s working and what isn’t.

Create consistently and confidently

Your online and in-person presence should be the same. Being confident in your abilities, self-aware of what you’re good at, and able to convey those characteristics through visuals and words helps build trust with potential clients.

You may be tempted to put your brand on specific social media platforms because everyone else is using them, but Pallen says to focus on the platforms you enjoy. Otherwise, you may not post or show up sustainably.

“What platforms are your team excited about?” Pallen says. “What are the platforms where your audience shows up? What social media platforms do you open when you’re in line at the grocery store?”

By providing yourself and your team with the platforms that best showcase the talents and abilities of your business, you will feel confident in the work you’re publishing and be able to follow through on publishing consistently.


Pallen says that while much of his job involves talking, his real job is listening. If you truly know your audience, you will also understand their pain points — listening is the source of good content creation.

While you want to be excited about your brand and talk about it, asking for feedback and listening to what your audience says is necessary to build a loyal client base. Being in tune with what potential clients are saying gives your brand an edge because you’re building it on relevance and needs-based awareness rather than on fads.

Focus on goals and what makes your business memorable

Asking yourself about your primary business goals is one of the most important questions to consider when building your personal brand.

“Branding isn’t just about making something look pretty,” Pallen says. “It’s really a means of identifying and manifesting your business goals.”

Your business goals are your brand’s priority because they shape day-to-day decision-making. They help you measure success, what is working, and what is not working.

Pallen says you should also consider what is memorable about you and the experience of being who you are. Think about what you’re good at and what keeps you top of mind for others. Take inventory of these aspects and bring the results to life in your online brand.

3 steps to creating a strong personal brand

Pallen helps each client, regardless of industry or experience, by following the same three steps: Positioning, building, and promoting.


The first step in creating a personal brand is to set it up strategically from the start. Position your brand for success by asking questions like, “What is something I love to do paired with something others need and are willing to spend money on?” Or, “How do I communicate my brand in a sentence or two?” Or, “Which brands inspire me in our industry, and which don’t?”

Pallen emphasizes that positioning primarily comes from confidence in your abilities and strong self-awareness of who you are and where you excel. Your position helps you identify what you can successfully and sustainably create for your brand.


Once you understand your brand’s position, build something to show for it, including brand identity, fonts, colors, imagery, and a website — what Pallen calls “the building blocks that represent you on the Internet.” And when it comes to considering and constructing these elements, Pallen’s approach is simple: Take the time to do it right.

“Do not rush,” Pallen says. “Do it thoughtfully and sustainably, so the brand identity you build is something that lasts for decades.”

Pallen works with many people who are trying to build a personal brand and is excited to give them great DIY tools for design superpower, such as the free Adobe Express logo maker, where you answer four simple questions to create a proof of concept logo. Having your logo done makes your brand feel official, and Pallen says it gives you “permission to make this idea you’ve had actually come true.”

Thanks to Adobe Express and AI capabilities, everyone can be more creative than ever and gather inspiration to bring their brand to life. What your brand “builds” is what your customers will find when searching online and can determine the amount of engagement your brand receives, so take things at a smart speed and ask for feedback as you go.


The final step in the personal branding process is promotion, which could include content strategy, social media, SEO, and even traditional methods such as online advertisements, radio, or TV.

“We’ve worked really hard to position and build the house,” Pallen says. “Now we stick a For Sale sign out front of that house and take it to market.”

The promoting step means your brand is complete, and you can share it with the world. By consistently and confidently creating, your brand will basically promote itself, but you should also create your own social media content calendar to schedule what you’ll post and when. You can also think through marketing strategies that make sense for you and your brand.

Win the day (and new clients) with your personal brand

A personal brand is a lot of work, but it’s what it takes to personally and professionally pursue your passions. Because your personal brand is how you present yourself and your business to the world, take the time to figure out who you are and what you offer. Craft quality assets that represent you (and your work) well. And — perhaps most of all — nurture your personal brand with attention to detail and the special sauce of authenticity. When your good ideas and your true personality shine through your brand, what you’re all about becomes crystal clear.

Build your personal brand with Adobe Express

While your personal brand should be your own, you don’t have to create everything about it on your own. Adobe Express has the templates and tools you need to leave a lasting impression on future clients and industry peers. With everything from creating a unique logo to resizing images to editing videos for social posts, Adobe Express helps you stay on brand and on top of your promotion plan. Discover all you can do today with the Adobe Express suite of tools.

Try Adobe Express today