The Secret Sauce to Being Perceived Like a Celebrity
Did you know that 64% of Americans are more likely to buy from you if you have an established personal brand? How about the fact that 60% of people see testimonials as the most important factor in who they buy from?
In one of my latest episodes, I got even more insight into how necessary personal branding is when it comes to increasing credibility, sales, and profit. To be successful in business, you need to tend to your reputation carefully.
Maybe you already embrace this — or maybe it makes you feel a little uneasy. Personal branding isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but the fact is, we live in a celebrity-driven culture. Though many of us don’t like to admit it, we play that game in the world of business. People identify and assign value to us based on our image, and what they decide about us can make or break us.
The way we carry ourselves, what we wear, who we know, which stories we tell, and what opinions we share make up our public image. We’re all familiar with this in our personal lives — the impression we make on others determines who we date, marry, become friends with, and more.
Chances are you’re putting thought into your personal brand when it comes to your personal life, but what about your professional life? Who you are outside of the company you work for sets the stage for opportunities to network, get financial backing, and form strategic alliances.
The merging of personal and professional is a big component of personal branding and is all the more important if you’re an entrepreneur behind a mission-driven company you’re personally passionate about it.
So what exactly is a personal brand? We can look to Jeff Bezos for an accurate description. He said, “Our personal brand is what people say about us when we’re not in the room.” It’s the “vibe” you give off online and in person. It’s how you package your skills, experience, and personality to tell a story about who you are.
Celebrities and their teams are masters at cultivating an image that brings them notoriety, influence, magnetism, and wealth. Stick with me to learn what their secret sauce is and how you can start taking control of your brand.
Personal Branding — The Celebrity’s Secret Sauce
If you’re a mission-driven entrepreneur, you probably value authenticity more than most, and you might be turned off by the idea of a personal brand. After all, you chose a life of purpose and substance over just going along with the status quo.
But if you want to make an impact, you have to play the game that everyone else is playing. That game is largely driven by image.
Think of personal branding as a trojan horse of attention. We live in an attention economy, and people who are most visible — such as celebrities — have capitalized on this economy.
Celebrities and the publicists behind them know exactly how to create a personal brand identity that works for them. They carefully craft their public image with the awareness that everything they do has a ripple effect and consider how their words, presentation, and actions all impact how they’re perceived.
Nothing is done without that awareness.
Celebs like Tom Hanks identify what makes them unique and do everything they can to enhance it. You probably know him to be a relatable, nice, down-to-earth type of guy who does the right thing in his movies and in life. He’s an everyman, evoking romanticized images of suburban life and family values. As a result, he’s enjoyed a stable, consistent career that places him at the top of the Hollywood hierarchy.
It’s not only movie stars who are masters at branding — just look at Oprah Winfrey. How would you describe her, and why? Many people think of her as courageous, inspirational, empowering, and wise.
Everything she does — from her show to the people she interviews to what she reveals about her life — supports that image. Oprah talks candidly about taboo subjects such as childhood trauma and teenage pregnancy, earning her the reputation for being authentic and progressive.
It’s because of Oprah that other people with difficult histories got the courage to open up about their own challenges. Oprah shows that personal branding doesn’t have to mean selling out — it can be a force for good.
But branding isn’t just for celebrities. It’s fast-becoming an everyday necessity for anyone who wants to succeed in any industry.
Your Personal Brand Tells Your Story
Not only is personal branding becoming more and more commonplace, but it’s also already happening — either by default or by choice.
If you’re an entrepreneur, thought leader, speaker, or anything else in which you are your product, you have a personal brand, whether you care to admit it or not. Your brand is how you’re perceived. Creating the perception with intention is your own choice.
Whether you intentionally craft your brand or not, it’s there in your social media posts and entire online presence. The discussions you get into, the opinions you share, the pictures you post and those taken of you, and more all create an image. What does yours look like?
Maybe you always post inspiring memes and positive quotes while tending to be agreeable online. You stay out of conflict, avoid negativity, and focus on hope rather than pessimism. Pictures of you might display you standing in a field of flowers, doing yoga, or hanging out with your best friends. You’re giving off an image of wisdom and compassion, which is perfect if you’re building a coaching or healing brand.
On the other hand, you might be an author or cultural critic known for being witty, blunt, rebellious, and always up for a debate. You enjoy jumping into online conversations and sharing your opinion. Maybe you post about politics, public figures, and the news, and while you’ve ruffled a few feathers, people like you because you’re dynamic and interesting.
We all judge a book by its cover, and we do most of it subconsciously without even realizing it. It’s why most of us buy the expensive brand over the cheap brand. On some level, we all know the power of public image and presentation. We know that first impressions matter and that how we come across people determines how they will treat us.
Being aware of the impression you’re already giving off is the first step towards taking control of it. The next step is taking ownership of it. And that’s way more fun!
Be Your Own PR Agent
Circling back to celebrities, let’s look at how we can learn from them and even mimic them to excel in our own personal branding.
Choose the celebrities you want to imitate and take cues from their brand to build your own. First, decide on the image you want to project and make sure it is consistent across all channels and that it comes across in your written and verbal communications.
Before you go into a meeting, imagine putting your “personal brand cap” on. How do you want people to see you at events? What impression do you want to leave during meetings?
Are you the creative maverick who’s on top of all trends and has the perfect solutions to client conundrums? Are you the ambassador, the peacemaker who can be trusted to be calm under pressure?
How does that person speak, think, act, dress, and connect to others? Remember, your brand should feel natural. You’re just enhancing what’s already there, but you should still curate how you present yourself.
Next, act like your own PR agent, and clean up any unsavory or “controversial” aspects of your digital presence.
Google yourself and look for anything that could repel potential clients, employers, or collaborators.
Drunken spring break photos where you’re knocking back jello shots should be set to settings that only your friends can see. Review old posts in which you debated about politics, social issues, or anything else that might be offensive and either delete or change the settings as well.
From now on, think before you post. You’ll thank yourself later.
Use Photography and Identity Alchemy to Create Your Personal Brand
Remember the old saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words?” You can convey so much in an image.
A photography session that reflects who you are and is aligned with your goals can have an incredible impact. One shoot can result in dozens of photos you can use in social media marketing, book jacket covers, press releases, digital marketing, and more.
Any photography session can be helpful for your branding strategy, but when you approach the shoot as a creative process that reflects your Identity Alchemy, it’s so much more.
Identity Alchemy is the process of creating a brand in which who you are on the inside aligns with the story you’re telling the world on the outside.” It creates authenticity, and that’s what people resonate with.
The process consists of three steps: deconstructing the self, curating a new version of the self, and then stepping into who that is.
When I say “new version of the self,” I mean who you are once you’ve let go of limiting beliefs and unsavory aspects of your personality that you no longer want to carry. In the process of self-discovery, we often uproot old beliefs and perceptions that were placed on us by others or that simply no longer have a place in our lives.
Through the process of transformation, we can get closer to our life purpose and reason for being on the planet. As we unravel masks we created to keep us safe, we step more fully into our true, authentic selves.
When it comes to branding, Identity Alchemy means that you’re crafting an image that reflects the outcome of this process — the new version of you.
If you’re a visionary leader, creative, or entrepreneur, aligning your brand with your authentic self is incredibly important. People love authenticity — it’s what keeps them going back to you. You build trust when the story you’re telling the world aligns with who you are on the inside. If you aren’t in this alignment, people can feel it.
My Style of Personal Branding Photography
A photography session using props and other symbols that reflect who you are is a fantastic way to delight in the experience of reinvention. How much fun could you have embodying the new you and turning fantasy into reality through the creative process?
Of course, the shoots aren’t just transformational for you — they’re incredibly effective business tools. I use a style called “Elevated Realism,” which has an aspirational yet relatable feel. Your audience sees the image and aspires to be you or be guided by you, but also feels like they can relate to you as an authentic human.
“Curated Candid” is a way that I direct a shoot so that we can intentionally create captured moments that feel real and authentic. If you look through my portfolio, you’ll see what I mean. Don’t forget to check out what I’ve done for clients like personal development guru Lewis Howes, A-list actress Jessica Alba, music sensation Benny Benassi, and many more.
My awareness of inner alchemy helps me give a voice to your authentic self. With a keen understanding of what message images, props, lighting, color, and more will convey, I ask the right questions and craft the best strategy for your brand.
When approached in this way, photography becomes even more than an art form — it becomes pure magic.
It’s time the world sees who you really are — book a session today!