If it seems like everyone and their mom has a personal brand these days, you’re not wrong—and it’s only going to keep growing in popularity.
In the coming years, “we’re going to see a mass increase of people thinking about and getting intentional about their brands,” said Jessica Zweig, CEO & Founder of personal branding agency SimplyBe.
Part of the reason building a strong personal brand is a growing trend is because it works. According to a study by Brand Builders Group, 74% of Americans are more likely to trust someone with an established personal brand, and 63% are more likely to buy from folks who focus on their brand. “Personal branding is not only going to be a mainstream concept, but a non-negotiable investment for leaders” Jessica says. “People are waking up to the fact that if you don’t own your narrative, someone else will write it for you.”
But personal branding is also gaining traction because it’s getting easier to do. “As AI tools for content creation become more readily available, and folks become more fluent at using these tools, we’ll definitely see an uptick in the quantity and improvement in the median quality of personal branding content,” said Candice Smith, founder of French Press PR.
“People are waking up to the fact that if you don’t own your narrative, someone else will write it for you.”
Given that, people are going to need to be even more strategic about their personal brands to stand out in an oversaturated market.
Polywork chatted with eight branding and marketing experts to get to the bottom of just that — their predictions for what will make successful personal brands in the coming year and beyond, and steps you can take now to prepare yours — helping you stay ahead in the years to come.
Personal brands will need to get more niche
“As the digital space becomes increasingly crowded, having a unique, niche personal brand is becoming more important than ever,” said Laia Quintana, head of marketing and sales at TeamUp, who has over a decade of marketing experience and regularly guides business owners on building their personal brands to attract more customers. “It’s no longer enough to just be known; you need to be known for something specific. This specificity helps entrepreneurs stand out among the competition and attract a more targeted audience.”
"It’s no longer enough to just be known; you need to be known for something specific. This specificity helps entrepreneurs stand out among the competition and attract a more targeted audience.”
Reilly Newman, a brand strategist with more than 15 years of experience, agreed that trying to appeal to the masses has never been a good idea, and will get increasingly less so in an oversaturated market. Instead, he said that anyone looking to build a personal brand with impact “should be focusing on their ‘1,000 true fans’, which will force them to truly hone in on what their brand represents and means to their following.”
“It’s so much more important to understand your target audience and their specific pain points or needs,” added Candice. “Understanding how to address those pain points is where you're going to find your niche and be able to truly connect with folks. That's going to be your value proposition as you’re building out your personal brand.”
When planning thought leadership content or pitching yourself to press, consider the topics that you can uniquely speak to—the more niche the better!
Make sure to consider how your expertise can bring value to your target audience in everything you put out to the world.
Authenticity and vulnerability will reign supreme
“Because of the rise of AI, authenticity is even more valuable,” said Kasey Jones, a growth strategist and LinkedIn top personal branding voice. “Tons of people are posting generic, cookie-cutter AI content, so it's even easier to stand out by sharing real stories with heart, personality, and a human-touch.”
There are lots of ways to bring more of yourself into your personal branding content.
For example, Danielle Z. Hughes of More Than Words Marketing shared, “I’m seeing a huge interest in sharing hobbies and passions outside of work. I help my clients to weave these hobbies into their stories to make them more memorable, more relatable, and show how they think.”
“No one cares about your highlight reel. Be a real person. That's what people want to see today—humanity and realness.”
Another option is to be vocal about the current events and social issues you care about. “If there’s something you want to take a stand and speak up about, I think now more than ever is the time to do so,” said Candice. “When folks are doing that, and they’re unafraid, they actually start to see some of the most engagement and growth.”
Or you can just be vulnerable about the ups and downs in life. “No one cares about your highlight reel,” said Jessica. “Be a real person. That's what people want to see today—humanity and realness.”
Don’t be afraid to show your whole self online, quirky side hustles, social justice issues you care about, and all.
“You can use AI to help you overcome some of the foundational creative blocks, but don't forget to infuse your humanity into your messaging. Your lived experiences and insights are what will truly help your personal brand stand out, not AI-generated content,” Candice advised.
Quality and consistency will be more important than quantity
“We are seeing a bit of a disturbing trend with AI in that it keeps folks from thinking critically—they’re producing content for the sake of producing content, which ultimately adds more noise,” Candice said.
Reilly agreed that “just producing more content will no longer get the job done.” Instead, thought leaders should focus on creating higher-quality content that provides real value for their specific audience. “Personal branding will go through a big adjustment as many brands will disappear into the white noise of an oversaturated market. Algorithms will continue to focus on better content, not just volume,” he said.
Jacob Burt of marketing and brand agency BURT. added that he thinks consistency will become more important than sheer quantity. “My advice to thought leaders would be to identify the format that they most enjoy creating in. It doesn’t matter if it’s written, video, or audio—all can work but you need to simplify the format for consistency.”
Instead of jumping on every platform to build your personal brand, think where you can show up with consistency.
Instead of feeling the need to post every day, choose a cadence that allows you to create high-quality content that adds value.
Community-building will be more valuable than broadcasting
“Personal branding is no longer a one way conversation where people are super fans. People want and need interaction and communication,” said Adebukola Ajao, founder of brand marketing agency For All Things Digital, who recommended looking for opportunities to seek suggestions, have conversations, and build real connections with folks who follow your personal brand.
Similarly, Jacob sees developing an owned audience becoming more important than simply growing followers on major social channels. Research and consulting firm Gartner backs this up, with a prediction that, by 2025, a perceived decay in the quality of social media sites will push 50% of consumers to significantly limit their use of major platforms.
“I’m excited to see the growth of a platform like Beehiiv helping people develop an owned audience. Newsletters are a great way to become algorithm proof,” he shared, adding that platforms like Discord, Slack, WhatsApp, Facebook Groups are other options for bringing followers together into a true community.
The future of personal branding is, well, personal
There’s no telling for sure what the future will bring. Our robot demise could be right around the corner.
"If you don’t have anything human to say, don’t say anything at all."
But, barring that, focusing on the personal aspect of personal branding—both by being unafraid to show off your true and whole self and by always considering the people you’re trying to connect with—should help you build a strong and lasting brand no matter what comes our way.
Or, as branding expert Scout Driscoll so succinctly put it: If you don’t have anything human to say, don’t say anything at all.