16 Entrepreneurs Share Their Personal Branding Idols

What public figure is your personal branding idol, and what about their branding strategy inspires you the most?

These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. YEC has also launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

1. Richard Branson

Richard Branson is one of my personal branding icons. From Virgin Records to Virgin Atlantic, he’s built a strong brand and following through interesting storytelling, innovative initiatives, and world-class design. – Arry Yu, StormX

2. Marcus Lemonis

The more I watch him, the more Marcus Lemonis has climbed my list of favorite entrepreneurs and branding experts. His branding strategy always involves the people who have started the business and staying true to the original concept the business was founded on. The best part about the way he approaches the reshaping/rebranding of the businesses he invests in is how he cares about his partners along with how he wants both employee and employer to be in a win/win situation. Just because he’s a highly successful entrepreneur, it doesn’t mean he’s abandoned his humility. In fact, his humility and honesty are his most valuable assets. As a business owner, seeing someone with that kind of business portfolio and net worth treating other people with such respect is very inspiring. – Jared Ross Weitz, United Capital Source Inc.

3. Cody Wilson

This is going to be a controversial pick, but Cody Wilson is one of the people I see as a branding genius. He’s the founder of Defense Distributed, a nonprofit organization centered around firearm production and distribution. They’re so controversial because of their products centered around 3D-printing guns, which has placed them at the forefront of the American gun control debate. Wilson has managed to turn a concept as terrifying as creating unlicensed garage guns into a sleek and modern business serving as a reflection of the IoT paradigm. He’s successfully sold his company as a bulwark for the second amendment and weathered some of the most intense press scrutiny unscathed. His brand is an example of how to be controversial and successful. – Bryce Welker, Crush The PM Exam

4. Elon Musk

Elon Musk is on top of his game when it comes to branding. He strategically posts about current events on Twitter, sharing both the good and the bad, and still manages to keep an unbiased opinion. He stays true to his own beliefs and consistently puts out the same message across everything that he does. His entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to change the world through tech inspire me and so many others across the world. – Samuel Thimothy, OneIMS – Integrated Marketing Solutions

5. Barbara Corcoran

Barbara Corcoran sold her business in 2001 and hasn’t had a specific business venture since. Yet, somehow, she has been able to stay relevant by building her personal brand. From Shark Tank to Dancing with the Stars, she finds ways to make herself stay relevant. Rather than building a new business, she monetizes her brand with media engagements and inbound business investment opportunities. – Fan Bi, Menswear Reviewed

6. Darren Rowse

I admire the community that Darren Rowse has managed to create around his ProBlogger brand. His website is full of great advice for bloggers and his Facebook group is very active with writers helping each other out. He’s been able to successfully turn his brand into a fully engaged community which is hard to do. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

7. Tony Hsieh

I love how Tony has leveraged his personal beliefs to build his company’s reputation. He is known as the architect who builds strong company cultures that deliver great customer experiences. I believe that in the long term the companies that operate with honesty and transparency will be those that flourish. He has created both a personal and company brand that is often referenced as the quintessential customer-centric model. Customers want to do business with him and his company is a sought-after place to work.  – Brian Greenberg, Life Insurance Quotes

8. Marie Forleo

Marie has done an incredible job branding herself, her most notable program “B-School” and her overall business. Every external brand touch point is consistent. The topics and advice she discusses on MarieTV resonate with just about any entrepreneur. The real deal, Marie is one of the few marketing experts that has been able to reach millions and teach thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs how to plan, launch and grow successful businesses. – Kristin Kimberly Marquet, Creative Development Agency, LLC

9. Neil Patel

Neil Patel has created a great personal brand for himself. He has a well-optimized website, strong social media presence, a podcast and most recently has shifted over to video. I like that his brand is about experimenting with different marketing techniques and he then spills his secrets as to what worked for him and what didn’t work so well. Learning from him has saved me time and money by implementing processes right the first time. – Jared Atchison, WPForms

10. Gary Vaynerchuk

I’ve actually had the opportunity to meet Gary at his office in Hudson Yards. The eeriest thing was the conversation felt oddly normal because I had watched literally every video available on his YouTube well before ever meeting him. It was like we had been having the conversation every week for years. I start with that because of what he has helped me most with — authenticity. He is the exact same person you see plastered on social when you see him in person, very thankful and genuine. He has also helped me to learn to give without the expectation of anything in return. Those two things have helped me learn to be a better version of myself. – Frank B. Mengert, ebenefit Marketplace (ebm)

11. Grant Cardone 

Grant Cardone’s content is always on. From social to podcasts to events and everything in between, he really is an inspiration. Love him or hate him, he has mastered his own authenticity and has been able to create a massive following and move his audience to action. In a climate of conformity, he has securely gone against conventional wisdom on delivery and public relations, and this mastery of content has secured him solid conversion rates for his products, books, and brand. – Matthew Capala, Alphametic

12. Gabby Bernstein

Gabby Bernstein is my personal branding idol because she has uplifting content that is authentic and real. She is consistent with her videos, email newsletter, and social media presence. I have followed her for about six years, and she has always adapted to whatever the new virtual platforms are and she has dominated them. Her brand is consistent and clean yet has allowed her space to grow, mature and change as a woman and teacher in ways that are easily communicated with her audience. – Ally Lozano, Ally Lozano LLC

13. Tony Robbins

Tony Robbins has built an empire helping others become the best versions of themselves. He’s an inspiring teacher and mentor to those who may not otherwise have a good role model or mentor in their lives. Tony’s communication skills are phenomenal. He’s able to talk to a room of people but connect to people individually. He can relate to a lot of different people which I think is one of the main reasons people like to listen to him speak and take his advice to heart. – Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights

14. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

With around 12.8 million followers on Twitter, Dwayne’s messages tend to speak mostly of hard work, love and making the most of one’s life. I feel his overall appreciation for life that shines through his posts works brilliantly in building a brand based on his core beliefs. His posts come with an element of charisma and intimacy. It appears that he’s tailored his page to suit the needs of his fans, often highlighting people with whom he has memorable encounters. This has more than the desired effect in breathing life into his brand because the appreciation he showers on others is always well-received. The inspirational stories he shares help build the emotional connection. Besides, his consistency, with around three to five tweets every day, tells his fans that he’s always around. – Derek Robinson, Top Notch Dezigns

15. Sara Blakely

Sarah Blakely has always been a personal idol, both when it comes to her business acumen and her personal branding. Even though she is now a billionaire, she frequently discusses her humble beginnings, discussing how she gave everything she had into starting Spanx. These stories are not glamorous, and are incongruent with her current status, yet she keeps telling them. This consistent message of determination against the odds positions her as a relatable leader and makes her an immediate inspiration for young entrepreneurs. As a woman, she knew the potential for her product, and she used her personal experience to find a consumer insight that changed the industry. Her personal branding is all about being herself and empowering others. – Kate Edwards, Heartbeat

16. Jay Shetty 

I have seen how Jay Shetty has built his brand around “Wisdom Goes Viral” from the get-go and there are so many motivational people who are similar to who he is and does what he does. To stand out among his peers, he created video content that touched people’s feelings. I’ve watched him grow his brand from the ground up and I can see how he has generated such a loyal fanbase through his small snacks of wisdom. Everyone can use a little wisdom now and then, even though it may feel like common sense. He has touched people in ways that are making the world a better place, a single individual at a time. He provides a great model and platform for me to then build my brand with my domain expertise. I haven’t been as successful as he has, but I know what is possible as well. – Sweta Patel, Silicon Valley Startup Marketing

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