Discover more from America 2.0 (by Gary Sheng)
5 Super Practical Personal Branding Principles
No nonsense advice from someone who has helped dozens of innovators level up the way they come across to the world.
As someone who's spent the past few years helping dozens of friends and colleagues build their personal brands, I've learned a thing or two about what makes a brand resonate with others.
It's my belief that every leader and innovator striving for a better future should have a strong personal brand in order to make the biggest impact possible.
In this blog post, I'll share the top 5 most practically useful principles of branding I've honed from my experience in building social media accounts with hundreds of thousands of followers across tech, politics, culture, and more.
1. Craft your social media bio sections intentionally ✍️
With limited character counts (Twitter, for instance, only gives you 160 characters), it's crucial to carefully craft your bio to reflect the persona you want to convey. Make sure to include career experiences that align with your goals and personal narrative.
Let’s analyze my Twitter bio:
I included “The Web3 Barber” because it’s a nickname I was gifted that I love explaining. (In case you’re curious, it points to how—similar to a celebrity barber—I know a wide diversity of influential people and I make them look good!)
I wrote “Regen building + proliferating foundational tech to LEVEL UP AMERICA” to convey that I care about regenerating the world, that I build tech, that I market/hype up tech, and that I care about building a better future for America.
I have worked at / co-founded more orgs than I can fit in this bio, but I included Gitcoin because it’s a project I care deeply about and my biggest commitment right now; I included Google because it shows I have a technical background; and I included Forbes 30 Under 30 because it catches the eye and confers credibility.
I wrote USA + Montenegro as my location because I’m currently splitting time between USA and Montenegro.
I included my Substack as the one link in my bio because I want to direct people to my Substack (because it’s where my deepest and most timely thinking lives).
2. Upload a profile picture you want to be associated with your name 📸
Whether you're using an NFT or a traditional photo, your profile picture (and cover photo) should represent you well. Aim for a well-lit, high-resolution image that communicates something intentional about you.
I like this picture on my Twitter because it communicates:
I am a happy guy.
I am American.
I am (relatively) young.
I care about nature.
I am willing to put a real picture as my profile picture (not an NFT).
To give another example, John Paller doesn’t use his real face as his Twitter profile picture, but it works for him because this image is associated with ETHDenver, which he cofounded.
3. Create one-liners that people will actually identify you as 📛
Accept the fact that most people won't remember much about you. To make a lasting impression, craft a succinct, memorable one-liner that captures your essence.
For example, some one-liners from my friend circle include:
Camara: "future city visionary lady"
Raz: "Guild.xyz CEO"
Sam: "Florida crypto advocacy guy"
John: “Ethereum lawyer who specializes in helping DAOs”
Harry: “super quick website and branding wizard”
Marcus: “visionary superconnector working to close the black wealth gap”
Johnny: “guy making solarpunk culture cool and accessible”
One way to make a one-liner stick is to literally put it in your social media name, like my friend John did by calling himself “The ETH Lawyer”:
You may be known by multiple one-liners depending on the kind of person who is trying to remember you.
For example, for some people, I am “that guy who knows everyone and is building in web3 x impact.” For others, I am “the America 2.0 blog guy.” For others, all they need to know is that I am the “ex-Google Forbes 30 Under 30 guy.”
None of these one-liners fully captures who I am, but again, people have very simple ways of remembering people.
How people remember you is one of the most honest reflections of your “brand.”
4. Figure out what channels of content you want to be most present in 🐦
Choose the platforms that best align with your life goals and target audience. For instance, I invest heavily in my Twitter presence because it's where many web3, AI, VC, political, community, and intellectual Millennial and Gen Z individuals can be found.
I personally don’t invest in Instagram, but you might invest heavily in your Instagram presence if you are trying to build relationships with people in the sports and entertainment industry.
5. Figure out what kind of content you want to be creating 📝
Identify the content formats you enjoy creating and feel most natural with. This may take trial and error, but it's worth it to find the types of content that suit your style and resonate with your audience.
For me, I love writing and my brain will not let me NOT write. If I don’t write, I feel pain! On the other hand, while I really appreciate video based content, it’s not as fun for me to create, in part because I find it painful to look and sound good on camera and edit footage.
I have more tips to share on how to interface with the world as an impact leader, but if you follow these top 5 principles, you'll be well on your way to establishing a personal brand that's engaging, memorable, and impactful.
Let me know if this post was helpful. Your likes and comments help me gauge if I should write more on personal branding.