Personal branding: authenticity counts

April 22, 2018 - 09:00

What do you want people to say about you?

Viet Nam News

By An Phương

HCM CITY – What would you like people to say about you?

Fun, dynamic, and positive are some of the characteristics that I’d like people to notice by just glancing at my social media accounts.

I’m a huge advocate when it comes to personal branding. Though we usually associate branding with companies and products such as Apple and Samsung Galaxy S9, anything can be a brand. Even as individuals, each of us has a personal brand.

One of my friends, Nam Tô, 26, made an interesting observation that not everyone consciously cultivates his or her brand.

“Since high school, I’ve been aware of leaving a good impression on people who look me up online,” he said. “However, I wasn’t 100 per cent serious with it until college when I missed out on some job opportunities as a marketing specialist and salesperson.”

“I wasn’t qualified because of my spamming habit,” he explained.

This got me thinking that a powerful and visible personal brand offers benefits in many aspects of our life.

In fact, it might now be a requirement for anyone looking for a great job, or wanting to take their career to the next level or get noticed by their target audience and become an influencer. And it might be needed to simply meet new, quality friends.

From my research, it is important to note that not everyone who has a strong personal brand will become an influencer.

Instead, a successful influencer results from being able to deliver a distinctive brand that appeals to a mass audience on the internet.

“I have a friend who is a popular beauty influencer. Of course, she is very particular about building a positive image. The difference between us, however, is that we maximise our personal branding in different ways,” Nam said.

Today, the question is no longer about having a personal brand but choosing to cultivate the brand to its fullest potential.

To begin with, we need to define personal branding. According to an article on, personal branding is “about knowing who you are, what you stand for, and then finding ways to make that visible”.

As such, personal branding is not entirely about establishing a ‘perfect’ social identity but about using social tools to promote what we stand for in real life.

“I used to think that it was good enough to just dress nicely in photos or show off that I have a great life and well-rounded education,” Trâm Anh, 23, said.

“However, I’ve come to learn that our virtual persona is only a part of who we are. It’s necessary to identify our unique skills, strengths and talents in order to be strategic about our branding online,” she added.

The three of us agreed that consistency between our online and offline images is the key to maintaining a positive personal brand.

John Nguyễn, managing director of Rt Solutions, a local advertising agency, believes that choosing the right social media outlet to project our brand is important, especially if we have specific resources and target audiences in mind.

“Facebook is ideal to connect with mass audiences, and Instagram is appropriate for those who want to tell their stories via images, while YouTube might be the perfect tool for those comfortable with getting their face out there and displaying their vibrant personalities via the screen,” he said.

Nguyễn also stressed the importance of LinkedIn because, unlike other social media, it is specifically designed for businesses and professionals to showcase their job experience and expertise.

“LinkedIn and Facebook are the two platforms that I check or ‘stalk’ when someone applies to my firm!” he said.

In addition to defining ourselves and building an online presence that reflects our brand and expertise on appropriate platforms, being proactive is another crucial element in branding.

“Regular updates on social media help increase interactions between us and our target audience. This is particularly necessary for people who want to become influencers, or for influencers who are seeking further opportunities to get on board with brands’ PR campaigns,” Nam said.

Influencer marketing has become more common in Việt Nam, though it has been around for years in other countries, Nguyễn said.

Sponsored content, in fact, has created another stream of income for many people, especially young people who are aware of the value of personal branding.

I have no harsh feelings towards sponsored content uploaded by influencers. However, I believe it is only fair to viewers when influencers are selected for their content and only endorse products or messages that they truly swear by.

I adore people with a strong personal brand, and I’m actually trying to use what I have to create a positive digital footprint.

During the process of developing my own personal brand, I have discovered more about myself and enhanced my self-esteem. And most importantly, I now realise that authenticity rules.  – VNS