Building a Personal Brand for Career Success: Tips from Industry Experts

Building a Personal Brand for Career Success: Tips from Industry Experts

People often attribute a certain level of prestige to a brand based on the profile of the leaders. This is true because people don’t only buy the products; they buy the people. They are influenced by the faces behind the brand in addition to the products; they want to be a part of your personal story.

Global and African/Nigerian personalities like Elon Musk, Mitchell Obama, Mark Zuckerberg, Wole Soyinka, Tony Elumelu, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie have become household names and have attracted awards and partnerships over time due to the quality of brands they have created for themselves.

A personal brand is, quite simply, a presence—either online or offline—that represents you, your values, and what you have to offer. Want to stand out in your field? Want to connect with people in your industry and discover relevant professional opportunities? Then, you need a personal brand.

A case study of Tony Elumelu

Tony Elumelu, a prominent Nigerian entrepreneur and philanthropist, stands out in personal branding through his unique approach and impactful presence in the business and entrepreneurship landscape. Here are some key factors that contribute to his standout personal brand:

Thought Leadership: Elumelu’s personal brand is built on thought leadership. He consistently shares his insights, experiences, and ideas through various channels, such as interviews, speeches, and articles. By positioning himself as a thought leader, he establishes credibility and authority in business, attracting attention and respect from aspiring entrepreneurs, investors, and industry professionals.

Social Impact: Elumelu’s personal brand encompasses a strong focus on social impact. He understands the importance of sustainable business practices and the role of entrepreneurs in driving economic growth and poverty alleviation. Through his personal brand, he highlights the significance of businesses contributing to society, inspiring others to embrace social entrepreneurship and make a difference in their communities.

Global Reach: Tony Elumelu’s personal brand extends beyond Nigeria and Africa, reaching a global audience. His influence and impact are felt on an international scale, positioning him as a prominent figure in the global business community. By engaging with global networks, attending high-profile events, and collaborating with international organisations, he expands his reach and solidifies his personal brand as a global leader.

Philanthropy and Mentorship: Elumelu’s personal brand is strongly associated with philanthropy and mentorship. He actively supports and mentors aspiring entrepreneurs, recognising the importance of nurturing talent and providing guidance to future business leaders. His commitment to giving back and empowering others amplifies his personal brand and showcases his dedication to building a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem.

A case study of Chimamanda Adichie

Chimamanda Adichie, a renowned Nigerian author and speaker, stands out in personal branding through her unique voice, compelling storytelling, and advocacy for gender equality and social justice. Here are some key aspects that contribute to her standout personal brand:

Authenticity and Unique Voice: Adichie’s personal brand is characterised by her authentic and distinctive voice. She fearlessly expresses her perspectives, experiences, and ideas through her writing, speeches, and interviews. Her powerful storytelling and ability to tackle complex themes with nuance and empathy have garnered international acclaim, establishing her as a literary icon and a prominent voice in contemporary literature.

Feminism and Gender Equality: Adichie’s personal brand is closely tied to her advocacy for feminism and gender equality. She has become a leading figure in the global feminist movement, challenging societal norms and championing women’s rights. Through her acclaimed TED Talk “We Should All Be Feminists” and her novel “Americanah,” she addresses gender inequality, stereotypes, and the experiences of women in a thought-provoking and relatable manner.

Cultural Representation and Identity: Adichie’s personal brand celebrates the richness and diversity of Nigerian and African culture. Her works often explore themes of identity, race, and cultural heritage, shedding light on the experiences of individuals navigating different cultural contexts. Through her storytelling, she amplifies marginalised voices and challenges stereotypes, fostering a greater understanding and appreciation of diverse cultures.

Intellectual Rigor and Critical Thinking: Adichie’s personal brand is marked by her intellectual rigour and commitment to critical thinking. She engages in meaningful discussions on a range of social and political issues, encouraging her audience to question societal norms and challenge prevailing narratives. Her thought-provoking insights and articulate arguments contribute to her personal brand as a leading intellectual and influencer.

By examining the personal brands of Tony Elumelu and Chimamanda Adichie, we can extract five valuable tips to help you build your own personal brand:

Define Your Unique Value Proposition: To stand out in a crowded professional landscape, identify your unique skills, expertise, and qualities that set you apart. Tony Elumelu’s personal brand as a business leader is characterised by his entrepreneurial success, philanthropy, and commitment to empowering African entrepreneurs. Similarly, Chimamanda Adichie’s personal brand as an author is distinguished by her thought-provoking storytelling and advocacy for feminism and social justice. Determine what makes you unique and align your personal brand around those qualities.

Be Authentic and Consistent: Authenticity is key to building a strong personal brand. Be true to yourself and let your values and passions shine through. Both Elumelu and Adichie stay true to their core beliefs and consistently communicate their messages through their work and public engagements. Consistency is equally important. Ensure that your personal brand is reflected consistently across your online presence, professional interactions, and personal projects.

Cultivate a Strong Online Presence: In today’s digital age, having a strong online presence is crucial for personal branding. Create and maintain a professional website or blog where you can showcase your expertise, achievements, and personal projects. Actively engage on relevant social media platforms to share valuable content, network with industry professionals, and amplify your brand’s reach. Both Elumelu and Adichie leverage online platforms to share their insights, engage with their audience, and strengthen their personal brands.

Build Relationships and Networks: Networking plays a vital role in personal branding. Foster genuine relationships with industry peers, thought leaders, and professionals in your field. Attend industry events, join professional associations, and engage in meaningful conversations. Tony Elumelu’s personal brand has been enhanced through his extensive network of business and political contacts, which has opened doors for collaboration and opportunities. Chimamanda Adichie’s personal brand benefits from her connections with fellow writers, intellectuals, and activists, allowing her to amplify her message and impact.

Continuously Learn and Grow: Personal branding is not a one-time effort but an ongoing process. Invest in continuous learning and professional development to expand your knowledge and skills. Stay updated on industry trends, advancements, and best practices. Both Elumelu and Adichie demonstrate a commitment to learning and growth. Elumelu continuously seeks opportunities to invest in and empower African entrepreneurs, while Adichie consistently challenges herself to explore new narratives and perspectives in her writing.


Building a personal brand requires intentional effort, authenticity, and a clear understanding of your professional identity. Remember, your personal brand is an ongoing investment in your career and building a personal brand takes time and consistency, so stay dedicated to the process and continuously refine and adapt your brand as you evolve professionally.

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