Personal Branding 2.0: Up-Level Yourself [9 examples]

personal branding

Personal branding is about finding out who you are and craft your career around the true you. It’s also about constantly improving your brand.

The difference between having a stunning personal brand, and having a standard personal reputation, is a clearly defined strategy to elevate your brand image.

Have a look at these 9 celebrity women, and learn what they did to up-level themselves to a 2.0 position.

Do you want to know the personal branding secrets of these women?

personal brandingMichelle Obama was frequently known as an “angry black woman“, but did some serious rebranding when moving into the White House.

Now she’s the First Mom, caring not only about her own but for all American families, and act as a role model for healthy eating.

personal brandingJK Rowling was an un-employed single mother living on welfare when she wrote the first Harry Potter book.

Her name was then simply Joanne Rowling, but anticipating that the target audience of young boys might not want to read a book written by a woman, her publishers demanded that she use two initials, rather than her full name.

personal brandingOprah Winfrey was born into poverty to a single teenage mother, but she won an oratory contest, which secured her a full scholarship to Tennessee State University, where she studied communication. Her first job as a teenager was working at a local grocery store, but she landed a job in radio while still in high school.

The rest is history: she has been ranked the richest African-American of the 20th century,the greatest black philanthropist in American history,and was for a time the world’s only black billionaire.

personal brandingAngelina Jolie made her screen debut as a child, and was named Hollywood’s highest-paid actress by Forbes in 2009 and 2011.

As a mum of six, she now promotes humanitarian causes, and is noted for her work with refugees as a Special Envoy and Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

personal brandingMartha Stewart, domestic godess in her own empire, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, was found guilty of conspiracy, obstruction of an agency proceeding, and making false statements to federal investigators, and was sentenced to serve a five-month term in a federal prison.

As expected, while in confinement, she didn’t fell into despair. Instead she took a job and became an informal liaison between the administration and her fellow inmates. People Magazine wrote: “with the drive that would make her a billionaire, Stewart took her lemon of a sentence and made lemonade. Heck, she made a lemon soufflé.

personal brandingVictoria Beckham topped the worst dressed lists in 2006, when Gucci took her on. The unconfirmed story says their act stemmed out of pure self-preservation since Mrs Beckham had begun to be the threath that could destroy their brand: she was seen and associated with their clothes, and what Victoria wore was instantly rejected by Gucci’s regular customers.

Gucci concluded they couldn’t stop Victoria’s obsession with their clothes (she paid for them herself) so they decided to try to change her from within. They sponsored her outfits and gave her a complete make-over. They even supported her own fashion brand, and made her into the fashionista she’s considered today.

personal brandingMadonna started out as an A-student and as a member of the cheerleading squad in high school, she later dropped out of college and relocated to New York City. She worked as a waitress at Dunkin’ Donuts and with modern dance troupes.

Today she is known for continuously reinventing both her music and image, and is recognized as the best-selling female recording artist of all time by Guinness World Records.

personal brandingMarissa Mayer went from numerous key positions at Google to CEO of Yahoo! The same day Yahoo! announced her hiring, Mayer revealed that she was pregnant.

When the baby was born, she went on a historically short maternity leave of two weeks.

She claims her priorities now are “God, family and Yahoo -in that order”, and says “the baby is easy”. (Wonder if the person who actually spends time with him and listen to his cries is of the same opinion?)

personal brandingMarilyn Monroe began working in the Radioplane Munitions Factory, mainly spraying airplane parts with fire retardant and inspecting parachutes.

She was noticed by a photographer who was sent to the site to shoot morale-boosting photographs of young women helping the war effort. He encouraged her to apply to a modeling agency, and it was her successful modeling career that brought her to the movies, made her bleech her hair and change her name.

Are you up-scaling your personal brand? What’s your personal branding secrets? Please tell in the comment box below, or tweet me @CoSkills.


About the author

Anna Rydne is an award winning and highly skilled communications specialist with +13 years of experience in the field of internal and external communication, PR and marketing. What distinguishes her from others in her field of expertise is that she treats communication as entertainment. It's simple to explain why: if it isn't funny or relevant enough, people switch channel. Anna has a special interest in personal branding and she believes the road to success is trying. Based in Stockholm, Sweden, she's determined to uncover the secrets of how successful people and companies communicate. She tweets about all things comms, social media and marketing @CoSkills and writes for once a month. She holds a bachelor's degree in psychology. Contact her at

One Response to Personal Branding 2.0: Up-Level Yourself [9 examples]

  1. Shawna P says:

    Anna, I really think I need your help with kicking it up a notch! Check out my website at
    I LOVE what you do and am always encouraged by your posts. Great advice and great wisdom in a carefree breezy package that motivates!
    As my grade school teacher used to say , “You’re the bees knees” Ha!

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