Personal Brands: Five People Who Made It Big

By Mash Bonigala

Personal Brands: Five People Who Made It Big By Branding Themselves and Everything They Touch

Many celebrities now are focusing on building their personal brand and creating an image that fans and colleagues can trust. However, this was not always the style. The following five people were branding themselves and their companies long before brand was a verb.

1. Oprah Winfrey

The Oprah brand is one of empathy, compassion, and caring. However, this brand wasn’t built so much through ad campaigns and billboards as it has been through sheer honesty. Oprah Winfrey has been open about her struggles and shown women the tools that she has used to overcome them. This is a position of extreme sincerity that is both commendable and very easy for women to identify with, leading millions to watch her show, subscribe to her magazine, and identify with any cause she promotes.

2. Martha Stewart

Martha Stewart’s personal brand has been strong enough to stay with her through numerous scandals and personal missteps. Regardless of the figurehead’s personal behavior, the Martha Stewart brand is one of gracious living, attention to details, and dedication to home and hearth. In an era when many women work, the Martha Stewart brand has an attraction that is impossible to deny. She re-introduced traditional housewifery at a time when women were ripe for the message.

3. Hugh Hefner

This name may look out of place in a list of businesspeople, but make no mistake: the Playboy brand based on Hefner is and always has been the selling point of the magazine and products. Few magazines have bestselling books, apparel, and other lifestyle items associated with them, so this company’s merchandising success is evidence of the power of Hugh Hefner’s brand. The Playboy image of a gentleman with a love of the female form was carefully crafted and continues to be powerful decades after its inception.

4. Mary Kay Ash

Mary Kay Ash has made multi-level marketing a respectable job by allowing millions of Pink Ladies worSpellBrandide to feel empowered. The combination of traditional femininity and attention to appearance with business and achievement is an image that resonates with modern women who feel caught between two conflicting worlds. Mary Kay Ash and her personal brand gave women permission to be ladies and businesspeople, a message that many women were eager to accept.

4. Steve Jobs

This iconic CEO resurrected Apple from a dying obsolete machine to a cult classic. This is due not just to the machines, but to the man. Unapologetically quirky and savvy to the preferences of closet nerds everywhere, Apple as led by Steve Jobs became not a second best brand, but a preferred one that is worth any drawback. This keeps people lining up for the next innovation from this niche brand.

As you can see, a person can effectively be a brand, representing a company and inspiring others to buy into it as well. These five people found great success, often building businesses from the ground up with little more than their personal integrity. This is a branding message that everyone can learn from.