Human branding Personal Brand Self branding

Personal Branding Series: Episode 21 | Dr. Deva Rangarajan | Associate Professor of Marketing, Ball State University and Personal Branding Researcher

In the 21st edition of Intraskope‘s Personal Branding Series, Dr, Deva addresses the nuances of personal branding and the role of trust in establishing domain expertise.

Prof. Deva is an Associate Professor of Marketing- Miller College of Business at Ball State University and the Director of the Center for Professional Selling. He also teaches at the Vlerick Business School (Belgium) and contributes research articles to key business and marketing journals.  I happened to read an interesting paper on personal branding written by Dr. Deva and his research partners and decided to get his views on the topic.
“Personal branding is a multi-step process that begins by becoming an expert in your field. Then understand your target audience. Then it is about creating messaging (sometimes co-creating with your stakeholders) that resonates with your current audience with an eye towards creating awareness with a broader audience”, says Dr.Deva.
Watch the YouTube video interview and read the complete interview below. Look up more such stories on my YouTube channel and on LinkedIn.


1. What according to you is personal branding?

Personal branding is the sum outcomes of all the activities that you engage in with the purpose of being a thought leader focused on helping your target audience.

2. Do you consider yourself a personal brand? If yes, how do you know it?

I am in the process of building one. I know this because I have more and more requests from my target audience who trust my expertise to help make them recommendations or even trust me with their business.

3. What does one do to go about building a personal brand?

This is a multi-step process that begins by becoming an expert in your field. Then understand your target audience. Then it is about creating messaging (sometimes co-creating with your stakeholders) that resonates with your current audience with an eye towards creating awareness with a broader audience. Using social media now helps in this.

4. What are the attributes of a personal brand? And what do people associate your brand with?

It is about trust, risk mitigation, expertise and customer focus. It is also about consistency of your messaging and relevance of your messages. From my dealing with audience, I have heard words like knowledgeable, helpful and responsive.

5. Based on your observations and learning who according to you is a personal brand? What characteristics do you admire about them?

Guy Kawasaki. His passion, honesty, his hard-working nature and relevance of his messaging.

6. What challenges did you face while building a personal brand? What techniques did you use?

Building expertise and earning trust are the biggest challenges for anyone – including me. It takes time, patience – you face constant pressure, and more important you need to keep pace with how technology is evolving to be relevant and use the right platforms to bring your message across. My techniques mostly involved discussing with my spouse who is an IMC professional and very knowledgeable.

7. During the process of building your own brand, what did you gain in the process? What did you lose?

I gained exposure to a broader audience through social media. Building your personal brand is also about making choices. I had to give up more of my pure academic research goals to be more relevant to my audience.

8. How can someone starting from scratch build a personal brand? What is the first step he or she must take?

Build your expertise, build your network, become digitally savvy, and never forget your audience and who else is doing the same thing as you are. Expertise is my first recommendation.

9. If you had the opportunity to change something about the way you built your personal brand, what would that be?

I was late into the personal branding game, maybe should have done it earlier. I feel that in my professional network, I am still a little ahead of my peers, so it is not all bad.

10. What is your recipe for personal branding success?

Conscientiousness, Diligence, Humility, Audience focus and Honesty.

11. Who according to you are personal brands whom others can follow and learn from?

Every professional i have interviewed in my web interview series-

12. With COVID19 and other crises what steps can personal brands take?

Now more than ever, your expertise that you can share with your audience to help them is critical and you must be personal brand agnostic and bring the content of smarter minds to your audience. In my web interview series – I do that by interviewing experts just like you are doing.

13. What’s your advice for youngsters (Gen Z and others) who want to consider their personal brands?

Be careful of what you post on social media. for the rest, all the things I mentioned above.

Liked this interview? Please do share your feedback and comments.

Keen to get ahead with your personal brand? Here are some resources:

Missed the earlier episodes? Read the interviews with Muqbil Ahmar, Tinu Cherian Abraham, Joseph Fernandez, Christina Daniels,Karthik Srinivasan,Gautam Ghosh, Alexander Michael Gittens, Mubeena Azeez, Itzik Amiel, Mangal D Karnad, Abhijit Bhaduri, Sandeep K Krishnan PhD, Scott Shirai, Sunil Robert, Latha Vijaybaskar PhD, Abha Maryada Banerjee, Dr. Amit Nagpal, Sukanti Ghosh, Amith Prabhu and Dave Carroll online and share your thoughts.

Keen to join this Series and share your thoughts on Personal Branding? Write to me at [email protected]

Please subscribe to my YouTube Channel and follow me on Medium.

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