Unraveling the Personal Branding Evolution: Why Authenticity Remains Paramount

As we navigate the ever-changing landscape of personal branding and the rise of AI, the importance of authenticity, consistency, and engagement endures. In the article, I discuss the history of personal branding, its evolution with technology, and the impact of AI on our approach to personal branding. The key takeaway? Emphasizing your unique qualities, emotional intelligence, and human touch will help you stand out and foster meaningful connections.

Heather Pridemore

4/26/20233 min read

There is no shortage of articles, videos, and podcasts explaining how to build a personal brand. The most recent I read was an article in Harvard Business Review by Jill Avery and Rachel Greenwald titled, A New Approach to Building Your Personal Brand: How to communicate your value to the world; and an article by Nahia Orduña titled, How to Build Your Personal Brand at Work.

Both articles share a common focus on defining a personal brand:

1) Understand your uniqueness, values, and skills - reflect on your background, experiences, and expertise to create a personal brand that aligns with who you are.

2) Expand your network, gain new perspectives, and collaborate on projects or initiatives that align with your authentic self.

3) Create and share content relevant to your personal brand to showcase your expertise, engage with others in your field, and establish yourself as a thought leader.

4) Personal brands evolve over time as you grow and develop. Stay open to feedback and continuously learn and refine your personal brand.

In many of these articles the phrase "personal brand" gets repeated at least a dozen times - I recommend replacing personal brand with "authentic self" because when we consider the intention of a personal brand for most people, myself included, it's not about being a social media influencer (which is why I cringe whenever I think about personal branding) but about ensuring that the way we represent ourselves in the world is intentional, consistent, and genuine.

The concept of personal branding has been around for a long time. Significant shifts began with the emergence of blogs, then the launch of social media platforms, which led to influencer marketing, the popularity of podcasts, and the rise of video content. The principal component that endures throughout the technology evolution is the importance of authenticity, consistency, and engagement. Blogs became a platform for people to share their expertise, voice opinions, and share their stories. Social media platforms created an opportunity for people to share their lives and skills, network, and build connections. The shift toward audio, video, and visual content established the importance of curation and personal storytelling.

As we look to the future, AI will undoubtedly impact the development of personal branding. Some potential considerations for the intersection of AI on personal branding and authenticity:

1) AI is already helping to analyze personal brands, identify strengths and weaknesses, and recommend improvements. Expect this capability to expeditiously evolve and likely become common practice.

2) Content creation will be generated via AI that is tailored to an individual's personal brand - this could include blog posts, social media updates, and potentially video content. AI can already mimic many prolific personalities - what's to say we can't train it to represent ourselves and generate content that is still authentic while creating more efficiency and consistency in maintaining our online presence?

3) Machine learning will enable deeper personalization, facilitate better collaboration, and lead to better social media management, and engagement optimization.

As AI becomes more integrated into our daily lives and continues to evolve how we approach personal branding, the importance of authenticity will remain crucial. We're already seeing the rise in the importance of "soft skills" in the workplace, which I believe is a strong indicator of a shift toward the importance of what makes us human. And as technology continues to evolve, the human element will increase in value. It is my belief that as more things become "generated" people will prioritize human touch, trust, credibility, networking, collaboration, and emotional connection.

Building a personal brand is all about being who you are in an intentional and consistent way. It will become more significant as AI continues to shape the world. Emphasizing your unique qualities, emotional intelligence, and human touch will help you stand out, build trust, and foster meaningful connections by showcasing your true self, values, and passions.