In this digital age, having a personal brand is just as important as having an impressive resume in order to grow in your career. Whether you have been thinking about starting your own blog or elevating your socials Emmanuel Probst, the Director of Advertising Effectiveness & Optimization at Kantar and active IVY member, has some great advice on how you can tell your story in his new book Brand Hacks. Our Director of Programming, Phil Chan, sat down with Emmanuel to speak more in detail about his book and what advice he has for someone who is just starting to build their own personal brand.

Emmanuel Probst (Director of Advertising Effectiveness & Optimization at Kantar)

What are the biggest mistakes people make with how they present themselves to the world – both online and in person?

Thank you, Phil. Having a clear and concise opening statement is crucial, whether you are introducing yourself online or in-person. In branding, simplicity and clarity are key. You should be able to articulate:

  • Who you are?
  • How you can help (me the listener/reader)?
  • What differentiates you?

What are some tips for how people can instantly improve positive engagement with their own personal brand?  

Too many people/brands/public figures (it’s all the same) obsess about being ‘the best’ at what they do. The unfortunate truth is that you will always find someone who is slightly better than you, even if only by 1%.  

Stop trying to be the best and focus on what makes you different instead.    

You touch on authenticity in your book. What are the key elements for a brand, either a personal brand or a large industry luxury brand, in terms of connecting with their audience authentically?

To be authentic means to be true to yourself and to speak with one voice, whether the brand is you or a luxury manufacturer that sells millions of handbags.

Prior to posting or saying anything, you should use your brand filter: are these words true to who I am and what I stand for? Do these images/words reflect my true personality? Am I surrounding myself with people whom I share the same values?

Vulnerability and authenticity go hand-in-hand when connecting with people in real life. What role does vulnerability play in personal branding? What does “vulnerability” look like for a larger corporate brand?

Vulnerability is a positive component of your personal brand because it makes you relatable. If you are scared to jump on stage or even introduce yourself to a stranger, chances are that many (if not most) people in the room feel the same way. People like people like themselves. Embracing your vulnerability makes you more attractive.

A large corporate brand should be authentic but not vulnerable. Nike hiring Colin Kaepernick is authentic: it emphasizes the personality of the brand, even if (or especially as) it sparked a debate.

Dolce & Gabbana’s ad showing Asian models eating pizza with chopsticks was extremely damaging for the brand. It shows the campaign had not been put through the brand filter. Vulnerability is for humans, not processes.

What is the power of stories when selling our personal brand?

The story is what creates the emotional connection between you and others. How you got where you are today and what you aspire to for the future is what makes you interesting. Your degrees and job titles are just a list of functional attributes. And as discussed before, there will always be someone who went to a better university or has a fancier title.

Can you elaborate on the social media influencer culture? What are some of the positive things about social media influence and what can we learn from their successes to help tell our own stories better? What are some of the negative aspects of influencer culture?

Social media has made all of us, artists, curators, and collectors. As such, social media and particularly Instagram makes the arts accessible to a much wider audience than the elite of gallery-goers. Social media influence helps people discover things they would not have sought out otherwise. The Museum of Neon Art in Glendale, CA is busier than ever. One could argue it is because the museum turned into an Instagram backdrop. Possibly, but these visitors would never have even known about neon art if it wasn’t for Instagram.

What do you predict are some future trends as to how we can best reach new audiences and customers with our increasing reliance on the internet and social media?

The future is about creating immersive experiences that awaken multiple senses. For example, painter Gerhard Richter exhibits at The Shed two immersive art installations that combine live music performers and moving picture work.

What will increasingly matter is creativity and the arts because it cannot be replaced by Artificial Intelligence.

Social media platforms will continue to come and go. Social media is only a vessel for an idea.

Read more about effective branding in Emmanuel’s new book Brand Hacks to write a unique story that’ll help you reach your goals!