Image: @talkingvs

These days anyone who's, well, anyone has a personal brand. Right? If you don't, but you want to, or you're not quite sure where to start, pay attention. 

Carlii Lyon is a former international personal publicist of Miranda Kerr and founder of 
Carlii Lyon Public Relations. She's represented pioneers in the world of wellness, New York Timesbestselling authors, inventors, musicians, and even a British foot reader. Today she helps everyday individuals and small business owners, create, shape and manage their own personal brands. 

We asked her to give us the 411 on personal branding – what it actually means to build a personal brand, why it's important, and how to get started. 


Building a personal brand is not about what you do, it is about who you are. People invest in people. People want to genuinely connect with other people. There is a real power in using your story to build your network and expand your influence. 

In the digital era we live in, putting yourself out there has never been so easy. We are all exposed whether we like it or not, and the individuals who get this – and act upon it – are the ones who thrive. 

The only real rule [for building your personal brand] is never follow any rules – unless of course, they are contractual. Your personal brand is as unique as you are. When you copy someone else you are not building a brand, you are simply going through the motions and your chances of cutting through the noise are slim.

The first step to building an authentic personal brand is making peace with the idea that you will face criticism and rejection. Kayla Itsines admitted in an interview that when she first started building her personal brand on social media, her friends questioned her and didn't understand why she was doing it. Today she has almost 10 million followers and runs a multi-million dollar fitness empire. 

Once you accept not everyone is going to like or agree with your personal brand, you are ready. 

- Be honest with yourself about who you are and what you stand for in life 
- Work out your target audience and who you want to reach 
- Assess your current profile image and social media taglines to see if they reflect the first two steps 

Building a personal brand requires a mindset shift. The biggest mistake I see is people hiding behind big words and corporate jargon. Simple, real and honest language is always going to be more impactful than a description that looks like it has come word-for-word from the Webster's business dictionary. 

We can get caught up worrying about what 'everyone' will think, but when I work one-on-one with my clients we often work out that 'everyone' consists of less than a handful of people. No-one cares as much about you as you do about yourself. 

While self-promotion was once seen as self-indulgent, now it is imperative. We all have a story and a purpose, and by holding yourself back, who knows how many people are missing out on the message you are here to share. You are your greatest asset. 

Everyone you see on social media who has built a loyal following and developed influence started with one follower. There are no shortcuts – it takes time and persistence. 

The average Australian adult spends almost two hours a day on social media, so it is safe to say most of us have at least an hour each week to dedicate to building our personal brand. Consistency is more important than frequency and it is not about the size of your audience – it is about the quality. 

As for preserving privacy, this is a personal decision. Just like you show certain parts of yourself to certain people – your best friend probably knows much more about you than your work colleagues – the same rule applies to social media. Some personal brands are built on raw honesty and access, others are all about beauty and fantasy. 

[If you've made mistakes in the past] I would suggest being honest and sharing the journey of change with your followers. Let them in on the fact you are aware you made mistakes and then reinforce the 'new you' as much as possible. Pretending the past doesn't exist is like trying to hide the sun with your hands. 

All the successful individuals I have worked with are normal everyday people who had the courage to put themselves out there. What is startling is how it is usually the really successful ones that don't see themselves as being any more special or important than anyone else. 

I have also learned we all have a little voice inside our head that feeds our fears and insecurity, irrespective of our success. The truly successful among us have learned to act in spite of this.

Follow Carlii

Interviewed by Emma Startup

Read this interview in Issue #18

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