Personal branding guru William Arruda probably wasn’t sure what was in store for his future career when he completed a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. Now, he’s developed a unique personal branding program (1-2-3 Success!), launched a personal branding assessment (360Reach), an online personal branding ID calculator, authored multiple books, and travels the world to talk about developing a successful career through personal branding.

William Arruda

What first sparked his interest in this field? Arruda refers to a 1997 article in Fast Company magazine written by Tom Peters and titled “The Brand Called You.” Up until that point, the term ‘personal branding’ wasn’t a widely discussed topic, and Arruda himself was working in corporate branding. He found the introduction of personal branding to be “kind of an intersection between my branding expertise and my passion for helping people succeed.” Other similarities he noted between these two fields:

Brands are based on authenticity, you need to understand what separates you form your competitors, you need to be focusing that brand on your target audience, the people who buy your products… And you need to be making decisions about yourself so you can focus your branding efforts.

Arruda says that “business is truly a human endeavor,” and that employees on social media have the opportunity to amplify their company’s message – or otherwise – detract from their overall brand image. And for companies that offer only online services, the personal brands of these employees are that much more important to developing a community, connection, and communication.

A lot of people think social media is about broadcasting, but it’s really mostly about listening… With your community, you need to know who they are, it’s all about giving… There’s a big opportunity to those who listen.

William Arruda Speaking

Frankly, Arruda thinks that many companies are only engaging in social media because they think that they have to. They throw time, money, and people at building these efforts for a half-hearted success, when really – “the companies that are most successful integrate social media into the fabric of their companies.” The intention should be to understand your customers and a desire to communicate with them, not out of a sense of obligation. This is especially important in startups, where “you have a lot more freedom, a bigger opportunity to make your mark.”

People are fascinated with data, and Arruda says that you can see how powerful numbers can be with the rise of infographics.

Everything these days is being communicated in terms of infographics… Availability and ease, when it comes to data, are critical.

However, the ‘next step’ to infographics are making these interactive, according to Arruda. He compares the static data on these graphics with Web 1.0 websites that offered no community, no discussion, and basically acted as an online brochure. Even though he says that the visual way infographics communicate data is fascinating, they’re lacking that opportunity to interact.

So if you can create an infographic that allows people to get to the data they’re interested in, and even respond to that data, that’s when you’re really taking it to the next level.

Ditch Dare Do Graphic

[Check out his own infographic that Arruda created for his new book, Ditch. Dare. Do.]

The key to utilizing social media is sharing ideas, developing insights into product development, and engaging your community on a deep level, says Arruda. The biggest mistake he sees companies make when publishing their data goes back to his idea that “they put it out there, but they don’t necessarily put it out there in a way that gets people excited by it.” Listening, once again, is the most important aspect here, “it’s really letting the community decide what kind of data they want to see.”

A picture is truly worth a thousand words, Arruda says in summary of our discussion. Be sure to check out the personal branding expert’s official website and his Personal Branding Hub, where you can access all of his services. Follow him on Twitter (@williamarruda) and share this article with your own followers.

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