The O Factor: Personal Branding

Oprah_WinfreyNow more than ever, developing a strong personal brand is crucial to your success in many fields.

It will allow you to establish yourself, and your credibility as an industry expert, long before you meet with a new prospect or walk into a meeting.

Whether negative, positive, or neutral, your personal brand will create an impression of you to others. And to establish or reestablish your brand, using the ‘Queen of Talk’ for your model can help you develop a powerful image.

Oprah Winfrey is considered by many to be one of the most trusted people in America. Whether she is endorsing a product, conducting an interview, or requesting support for a charitable organization, the “Oprah Effect” ensures that people will listen and are more likely to respond.

But why is an endorsement from Oprah far more effective than one from any other personality or representative? It is because she has established such a strong Personal Brand based on knowledge, compassion, honesty, credibility, and transparency. You will never see Oprah on a magazine cover after suffering a drunken night of partying, nor will you see her pay for an interview or receive direct revenues from a product she endorses (of course, show advertisers may be swayed by favorable product mentions, but this is handled in the same way as any editorial or news media).

So how do you create your own ‘Oprah Effect’? In this time of immediate, and public, access to information, photos, videos, personal details, and relationships with others, it is absolutely crucial that you maintain your Personal Brand in every aspect of your life. No, this doesn’t mean that you need to be perfect, but it does mean you need to be honest and open. The resume details you upload to LinkedIn should accurately and honestly describe your professional status, the messaging you send on Twitter should be factual and valuable for your readers (not spammy or sales-y), and the photos/videos you publicly upload to Facebook should be the type you wouldn’t be embarrassed to show to a roomful of your colleagues (otherwise, change the settings to private or setup private categories – for more tips on how to do this, click here).

Your Personal Brand, if developed and utilized correctly, has the ability to position you for amazing opportunities you may not even know exist. However if not handled correctly, it can also close those doors for you before you’ve even had a chance.

Just yesterday, Oprah conducted a virtually unbelievable interview with Mackenzie Phillips, infamous for drug use and dishonesty, during which a shocking family secret was revealed. In any other format, this could very easily be dismissed as a lie or at least an exaggeration of the truth, however because people trust Oprah, and her research into guests, this was understood as the truth by her audience and the media at large. The power of a brand this strong cannot be easily undermined.

– Melissa Albano, Grapevine Consulting