Four Personal Branding Lessons from Steve Jobs and Apple

Steve Jobs turned Apple into a powerhouse of a brand. The iPod and iPhone are iconic and emblematic of technological innovation, while Apple’s apple logo is simple, effective, and instantly recognizable. But Jobs wasn’t just a genius at corporate branding: he knew how to build a personal brand, too. Picture a man dressed in jeans and a black turtleneck, and it’s more than likely that you’re picturing Steve Jobs.

Steve Jobs’s brand-building work can be your brand-building textbook. The strategies that he used to make Apple successful are the same ones that you can use when you’re building your personal brand. Here are four personal branding lessons that you can learn from Steve Jobs’s work at Apple.

1. Commit to a Strong, Cohesive Aesthetic

When the first iPod launched in 2001, part of its appeal lay in the design. Before the iPod,

Mp3 players were clunky and unintuitive; the iPod, by contrast, was user-friendly and looked sleek and modern. The first iPod became instantly iconic, and it continues to influence the look and feel of Apple products. Now everybody knows what an iPhone or a MacBook looks like, and to many, they’ve set the standard.

Jobs developed a cohesive aesthetic identity that made his products stand out from all of the other consumer electronics out there. He also developed a unique visual identity for himself: his jeans and turtleneck uniform conveyed the message that he was interested in simple, effective approaches.

When you’re building your personal brand, be mindful of aesthetic, and ask yourself how you can create images that people will remember — and instantly associate with you.

2. Do Good Work

A strong aesthetic will make people pay attention. But to get them to keep paying attention, you need to do good work that meets — or exceeds — their expectations. Think of it this way: Apple users trust their Apple products. And to ensure that trust, Apple needs to continue producing good products. This is the core of personal branding: it’s not enough to develop a brand that seems sleek and attractive on the surface. That inviting surface is only there to get people interested in the real product: the experience and quality that you can offer.

So put your best work out there — and show potential employers and team members that you do good work and can bring value to their organizations. Use platforms like Github, YouTube, Medium, and DeviantArt to show off your best work — and to demonstrate that you’ve got the substance to back up your style.

3. Be Ahead of Trends

Ten years ago, nobody had a tablet computer. Today, they’re ubiquitous — and the iPad is the most well-recognized of them all. It was also one of the first to be widely available to consumers. Jobs was never afraid to have his company invest in technology that was ahead of current trends — and he was an expert at orchestrating high-profile launch events whenever a new product was ready, so that each innovation made a huge splash. And that’s why the Apple brand is synonymous with innovation.

You can make innovation part of your personal brand by staying on top of trends in your industry, and by using social media to engage with people about those trends. Everybody wants a team member who is ready to innovate, so you can build your brand by demonstrating that you are that person.

4. Be Interesting, Be Diverse

Steve Jobs wasn’t just a tech guru: he was a renaissance man. He studied literature and the arts at Berkeley, and he brought that expertise to bear on his work at Apple. And Apple isn’t just a tech company anymore: they’re a music company and a media company, with diverse interests and capabilities.

While your personal brand needs to be cohesive, it doesn’t need to be boring. Use your social media platforms as venues for showing off your diverse interests. They’re what make you unique and they can show that you’re a creative thinker — a creative thinker who might just be the next Steve Jobs.