Whether it’s in entrepreneurship or entertainment, the right personal image can pave the way to a successful career. Well-crafted personal branding helps nurture trust and showcases each of us as individual professionals in our field. But it’s a different beast from promoting your business.
Personal branding is all about just that – personality. If you’re promoting a business your core messages are all about reliability, consistency and the ability to deliver on time. The personal branding game is more about building a following that responds to your particular worldview.
Get it right and it opens up a world of new business. Building followers who believe in you gives you a market you can leverage. Offering a perspective that is attractive, different and enticing builds you a market that may not have previously existed. It’s a personal connection that bests any advert, promotion, or corporate offering.
International model Berite Labelle has used personal branding to transition from the catwalk to the silver screen. The 28-year-old is currently working on her own film production about two powerful historical figures: Mary Wollstonecraft and Cleopatra. The short film will star her in both roles.
Keenly aware of the importance of controlling her own narrative, Berite has used her backstory and goals to show her audience exactly who she is. “Every time I blog, post on social media, or upload a video, I communicate my values and beliefs,” she says. “Personal branding is about presenting different aspects of my personality and sharing my life experiences, no matter how painful.”
Berite is not afraid to share her unique story, which began with the dream of one day working in the entertainment industry. “I was born in the small Eastern European country of Tiraspol, Moldova. My dad was Chadian and my mum Moldovan-Russian. They separated when I was six and I ended up following my UN-official father around the globe. This was difficult as I only spoke Russian and had to blend into different cultures,” she says.
“When I was 14, my dad passed away and things became even more complicated. I was pretty much left to my own devices. After falling in with some bad company at 17, I realized that I had to take ownership of my life. I had to write my own narrative,” she continues.
To develop a personal brand, one does not need to broadcast their message to the entire world. It is enough that it reaches the right people. The more targeted the approach, the better one is able to create messages that engage a specific audience.
“Regardless of who your target audience is, it’s important that your message elicits an emotional connection. Showing your target audience who you are can make you magnetic and attract plenty of opportunities,” Berite says.
“I have been open about my life and its challenges,” she continues. “There was a time when I had to pull myself out of a dark hole. I started studying and working as an intern for the Swiss brand Bucherer 1888. It soon became apparent that if I knew how to sell diamonds and precious stones with Bucherer, I could learn to sell my own talents.”
Berite put herself out there, approaching people within the modeling industry. She soon started walking runways at such renowned events as Le Bal des Créateurs in Geneva. “It’s incredible how positive the response was. People start to know your name, and sometimes you don’t even have any idea how that’s happened.”
A large online following can reinforce a personal brand. It can also help create a public persona by spreading specific messages. According to Berite, the best way to establish an online presence is by providing readers with value, be it information or advice.
“People that follow your personal brand want to learn from you. I always try to share personal information that is relevant to my audience. For example, sharing a story that could stop your audience from making the same mistakes you’ve made,” Berite says.
“I also share my successes, as I feel that people can also learn from those. For example, during the 2019 World Championship of Performing Arts in Long Beach, California, I won first place as a model in multiple categories,” she says. “This meant the world to me as the winning prize was a partial scholarship for an acting program at the New York Film Academy in LA.”
Who you know matters. Interacting with others in your industry can go a long way to building your personal brand. And maintaining good relationships with influencers and industry experts can open doors that would have otherwise remained closed.
“Whenever possible, I always try to get to know people within the entertainment industry. I also try to respond to social media posts, even from my competitors,” Berite says. “If your personal brand is strong enough, you shouldn’t have to worry about being overshadowed bybetter-known figures.”
After writing a script for her own film production, Berite used her networking skills to get in touch with Bayou Bennett and Daniel Lir, the filmmakers from Dream Team Directors.She is now looking forward to starring in the film and turning her modeling career in a new direction.
Show Others The Way
While becoming an industry authority does not happen in a matter of days, building expertise is important to developing a personal brand. “Be sure that you continue learning about your specific industry as this will build your reputation and get you professional recognition. When you become an expert, clients will come to you,” Berite advises.
“Acting can be a stressful industry that requires emotional intelligence and a deep knowledge of one’s self,” Berite narrates. “No matter how difficult my life became, I never gave up. When I had to stop filming during the pandemic, I continued to work on my skills. I took lessons with acting and accent coaches, participated in Zoom events, and kept in touch with my mentors through VIP IGNITE.”
For Berite, personal branding is about expressing her real self and sharing both her strengths and weaknesses. “Nobody is perfect. In fact, often it’s our imperfections that help us create emotional connections,” she says. “Building personal branding on pretenses is never going to work because people will eventually find out that you aren’t being authentic.”
Personal branding can also change over time. Berite started out as a model and as her life evolved, her career also changed direction. “Modeling has given me the confidence to share my world with others through acting,” she says. “As long as you remain transparent about who you are, reinventing yourself shouldn’t be an issue.”