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Personal branding versus online reputation management

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by Jennifer Bridges  @JenBridgesRD

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Personal branding and online reputation management both deal with how people perceive you. However, personal branding and online reputation management are two separate things: The former involves defining yourself online and the latter deals with controlling the online conversation about you. 

Because personal branding and online reputation management have unique objectives and techniques, it’s important to make sure you are using the right strategy for your situation. A good first step is to learn the differences, as well as the similarities, between the two approaches.

Control of the process

One big difference between personal branding and online reputation is who controls each process. When it comes to personal branding, you control the image that you project to others when you create a website, craft your personal story, write articles, or share your views on social media.

In contrast, you can’t ever completely control your online reputation because it is owned by others. As such, you must constantly monitor your reputation and react to what other people are saying about you.


Both strategies aim to increase your authority in your area of expertise. Personal branding achieves this by making you more recognizable as a trusted resource. 

An example of someone whose personal brand exudes authority is Brian Moran. The landing page of his Small Business Edge website displays a blurb highlighting his decades of experience “helping small business owners and entrepreneurs run better businesses.” There are also prominent graphics of awards he has earned, as well as links to his blog and social media feeds. All these things together create an impression of credibility.

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Online reputation management does the same thing by highlighting the positive search results about you and diminishing the negative ones.

Online visibility

A main goal of personal branding is to make yourself more visible online. While building up your online presence as part of an online reputation management strategy can help you get noticed more, the main goal here is to suppress negative search results.


Personal branding and online reputation management both involve posting your own content, but personal branding focuses more on helping you stand out from your competition. This means it’s OK if your competitors’ websites appear alongside yours in the search results. 

Online reputation management, on the other hand, focuses more on owning the first page of your search results. The goal here isn’t to compare yourself to others, but to replace unflattering or untrue results with ones that portray you in a more accurate light.


A main goal of personal branding is getting the attention of your target audience—the people you want to buy from you, hire you, or network with you. This means that the content you create and the search terms you use are designed to appeal to this select group.

With online reputation management, the goal is to push negative items off the first page of your search results. This means the content you create needs appeal to search engines. And because search engines value results that best answer searchers’ questions, your target audience is really the people who are typing in the search terms that relate to you.

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When building a personal brand, it’s important to maintain consistency in your messaging across all platforms. Doing so helps you establish a certain image that people associate with your name.

A good way to cement your image in people’s minds is to use the same picture on every profile. An example of someone who does this is Amiee Beck, the founder of Media Wise Marketing. The About page of her company’s website, her Twitter profile, and her LinkedIn profile all feature the same picture.

If your goal is online reputation management, though, you’ll want to create as many different types of content as you can. Because search engines try to provide users with a wide variety of results, this strategy will ensure that your content rises to the top of the search results page.

Real-world results

While personal branding and online reputation management have different objectives, the two techniques are alike in one important way: They lead to real-world advantages, such as a competitive edge when it comes to applying for a job or a promotion, asking for a date, trying to make a sale, applying to college, or vying for a role as keynote speaker. 

For more information

Whether you are creating a personal brand or repairing your online reputation, you need to understand what steps to take to construct a positive online image. To help guide you, we offer the following articles: