MP chatted with Chris Danton, Chief of Ideas and Co-founder, and Kirsten Ludwig, Founder at IN GOOD CO, about what makes a solid personal brand. Danton is an award-winning creative director and strategist who has led multimillion-dollar viral campaigns and brand experiences at some of the most high-profile events in the country. Before co-founding IN GOOD CO, she rose through the ranks of one of the largest experiential agencies in the country. Danton heads leadership roles growing and managing teams that deliver award-winning work, including Google, Nike, Pinterest, Psycho Bunny, Mars Group, Uniqlo, Mun2, and Amass.
Kirsten Ludwig is a creative and lifestyle marketer with over twenty years of experience. Ludwig has emerged as a thought leader within the evolving agency and brand landscape. She has served on the Conscious Capitalism and Opportunity Fund board, spoken at various conferences, and hosted panels regarding women in leadership, contemporary creative culture, and the future of giving a damn. Clients include Google, Nike, Serra, Mars, Vote Together, Belcampo, and Keds — plus a range of exciting new brands through IGC FUTURES, a venture-oriented initiative.
What is a personal brand, and how does it evolve?
A personal brand is developed every day, whether actively or passively.
It encompasses everything from companies you’ve worked with and your social media presence to how you interact with others.
These push your personal brand to evolve constantly based on your actions and work.
Developing a Personal Brand
Why should someone consider developing a personal brand, and why do personal brands matter?
Employees and founders are developing a personal brand every day, actively or passively.
For employees, these are the companies they have worked with, what their resume looks like, their social media, how they interact with others, etc.
Employees having their brand brings a new awareness and personal ownership and adds a layer of creativity to the workplace.
Ultimately we’ve seen some amazing brands born out of personal brands.
For founders, personal brands offer a more intimate perspective than the corporate presence of their brand. It allows them to be more vocal about their values (though brands should be doing this too) and share their thought leadership more regularly.
It adds a human side to a brand that can cut through when consumers are craving more transparency and authenticity from brands.
How can someone begin to develop a personal brand from the ground up, and what steps should be taken from the beginning?
By identifying what they love and where they feel the most empowered.
Identify what gets them excited to get out of bed in the morning, the projects that allow their creativity to shine, and the parts of the business that push you out of your comfort zone and keep you inspired.
How can someone develop their personal brand’s story, what should be included in the story, and why should they take the time to do so?
While developing your personal brand, you will be driven toward projects and work that align with your values and goals.
Here at IN GOOD CO, we believe in working with brands that “do good.”
We are always moving forward with the narratives we subscribe to by working with companies that align with our values and goals.
What steps should be taken to include mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional components into one’s personal brand, and why are these important?
IN GOOD CO is big on mental health.
Coming out of the pandemic, it’s become more apparent that the status quo of ‘push through’ is an outdated approach.
We all put therapy on our calendars, prioritize it and hold each other accountable for going—no ‘I feel guilty’ cancellations.
We’re excited to see more businesses and leaders talking openly about how important this is.
It’s not to say business doesn’t get done.
This is critical too.
But overcoming hurdles is much easier when you treat mental health as important and are transparent about it.
Having a personal mission like this can expand your thought leadership to different areas beyond what you might do daily for work.
Is it possible to create a personal brand that’s too niche?
Niche is great for a personal brand.
Just take a look at the proliferation of Substack.
By having a deep and narrow focus, you attack like-minded followers and provide a lot of value. It’s not to say that generalists can’t survive, but you must be aware that segments of your audience might not be interested in what you’re saying all the time, which makes it harder to grow a loyal following.
How can someone tell if it is time to rebrand, and how should rebranding be approached?
Are you not getting the consistent type of attention you want?
Not getting invited to the conferences or panels you want to be a part of?
Has it been a good decade since you’ve had a new headshot?
Have you changed roles in a major way or developed niche expertise?
Frankly, just ready for a new view?
All good clues.
There’s no ‘right’ time.
Rebranding is always an undertaking, but a personal brand workshop is the best way to start.
What’s your purpose statement for this new chapter?
The five-year vision you are manifesting?
Core values that will drive your decisions?
High-level messaging that articulates where you stand?
Your visual identity from a headshot to a font that gives off the vibe you want.
Audit, collect, create and transform.
Personal Brands for Entrepreneurs
How can entrepreneurs develop a meaningful personal brand while putting almost all their time and attention into their businesses?
Build off what you’re doing with a personal perspective. Deskside view. BTS of the thinking or process that it took to work on a particular project or product.
Become the human face behind your brand.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
Employees, a personal brand can be an asset to your company; the question is how to utilize/empower them. There's talk of the “corporate influencer”—individuals who work for big and small companies with a platform centered around work, and it’s an exciting topic.
Identifying Corporate Influencers
If you’re doing your due diligence with corporate culture and have an active and ongoing way of sharing personal triumphs or shout-outs, this should happen organically.
Empowering Corporate Influencers
If there’s active they have ideas, start with what they are hoping to influence and discuss versus forcing the brand’s perspective. Follow the same rules that are best practices for any influencer engagement
Don’t Take Advantage of Corporate Influencers
If this becomes part of their role, compensate them. Don’t end up on the wrong side of influence—we’ve seen it so many times, and it’s not pretty and very avoidable.
Responses provided by Chris Danton, Chief of Ideas and Co-founder, and Kirsten Ludwig, Founder at IN GOOD CO.