Salamon Rules of Personal Branding: Rule # 6 – Establishing Credibility

Without credibility, creating a brand becomes very difficult.  You earn credibility by proving you are qualified to as many people as possible and showing that you are consistent and trustworthy.  There are several ways of accomplishing this, especially as it relates to Personal Branding.  For example, a professional bodybuilder is more likely to be trusted and followed for muscle building advice than someone who is a middle-aged overweight school teacher.  People want to have proof that you’re worth investing in.  For the bodybuilder, you can see direct evidence that this person’s advice works.  While the school teacher may have great advice, people would be taking a risk by following their advice.

When trying to demonstrate credibility, you can do it in 3 general ways.  This is discussed in my Dessert Theory post, but very applicable for establishing your brand’s credibility.

-Tell: If you can avoid having to validate your credibility by telling someone, you should.  But there are effective ways of establishing your credibility through explanation.  For one, you should learn what SPIN Selling is.  In short, by asking relevant questions and being truly interested in figuring out core issues, you can present yourself very authoritatively.  For example, the bodybuilder could present an audience a series of questions to find out their core problems.  Once he understood the situation, he could explain that he once had those same issues and has overcome them.  This is how you build credibility through explanation.

-Demonstrate:  Demonstrations speak for themselves.  When you are demonstrating, you are showing examples of your expertise.  Showing client demonstrations or different people reaping the benefits of your services is a very strong mechanism for credibility building.

-Word-of-Mouth:  The last, but most powerful form of credibility building, is word-of-mouth.  When someone says you are the best thing since sliced bread, you are building your credibility in a much stronger fashion then if you yourself were telling that person.  But the secret to word-of-mouth is that the more authority the person who recommends you has,  the more authority is placed on you.  When the CEO of a company says you are a prized asset, that recommendation is much more powerful than the recommendation from someone less known.

It’s important to gauge your perceived credibility with an audience.  If you don’t calibrate correctly, you can lose them.  With credibility, people are more likely to buy into your brand and pay attention to you.  It starts with curiosity and your own pursuit of knowledge on your given subject.  Read voraciously, start writing, tell people what you do so you can start establishing your credibility!



6 thoughts on “Salamon Rules of Personal Branding: Rule # 6 – Establishing Credibility

  1. Great post, Adam. As usual! I think credibility is such a huge issue. One thing to also consider is the value/quality of the product, idea, or service – that will impact credibility in a huge way. Does your program work? If not, I don’t really care who says you’re the greatest thing since sliced bread.

    In personal branding, this is also really important. This is a subtext to your ideas, because the president of the company probably is not going to say you’re awesome unless you’ve demonstrated that you are.

    But, it’s important for people to realize that credibility begins with them. Do they have a good work ethic, innovative ideas, solidly written posts? This, to me, is the foundation of credibility.


  2. Yes, it is true – we start by telling people who we are and then people learn who we really are by watching our actions. So the savy professional will make sure their actions tie to their brand. Then all of the word of mouth ‘advertising’ you receive will be as-if you told people what to say. (Which in fact you did by being aware of your brand and how to live that brand.)

    “Say what you will do and do what you say.”


  3. Tiffany,

    Spot on. This is actually very inline with my previous “Rules” posts. Personal Branding includes your PR and your actual deliverables. Do both and your set.


    Very good points on following through. I definitely agree that you shouldn’t over promise and under deliver. In our digital age especially, your reputation spreads extremely fast. Make sure you’re leaving good impressions.


  4. I’m a bit skeptical on this ‘Personal Branding’ stuff. Sure, maybe it makes sense if you are a music celebrity like 50-cent, or a CEO, or an entrepreneur who is selling his idea to the venture capitalist.

    But what about regular working stiffs? Seriously, when you are just performing regular daily office work, and aren’t looking to be promoted or strike out on your own, does ‘personal branding’ make sense?


  5. Hi Scott,

    Thanks for participating in the conversation. There are a few reasons why Personal Branding makes a lot of sense for regular folks, especially during this day and age.

    First to recap, Personal Branding is branding yourself like a good company would brand themselves or their products. Innovate and improve the product while getting as many people as possible to know about you and what you offer.

    While at first glance, this may seem most appropriate for celebrities, but the application to us regulars is actually very important.

    Those reasons include the fact that global competition is becoming more fierce than ever. Yes, if you have a comfy job, you may be less worried about the market place, but the new employee has to stick out. There are thousands and thousands of marketers, salesmen, musicians, etc. Personal Branding helps those people improve their skills while helping get the word out that you offer the skills you do.

    Second is the fact that job stability isn’t what it used to be. While you may think you will have your job forever, technology is changing faster than ever and employers are showing less employee loyalty. My friend Scot Herrick who writes at was very skeptical of Personal Branding at first. I explained to him my definition of Personal Branding and how it made sense to “Apple” yourself. He recently was part of Washington Mutual’s layoffs, but I have full confidence that his blog and personal branding efforts will land him in the right place.

    Lastly, to address your comments, I’d like to ask you how 50 Cent became 50 Cent? How did the CEO get appointed CEO? It wasn’t an accident. They rose to where they are by consistently improving their product and by mass communicating what they were offering to their respective audiences. How they communicate that value proposition differs from the Fortune 500 Executive to 50 Cent, but the principles are the same and understanding those principles can help you get to the place you want to be.

    Even if you only want to continue your job and not move up or down, I’d highly suggest implementing some of these lessons so that you can at least mitigate some of the risk associated with being replaced, laid-off, or looked over.


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