Elements of a Successful Personal Brand: Make an Impact and Provide Value (R.I.P. Nipsey Hussle)

So how do you create a meaningful impact and personal brand that will be everlasting? Live what you say, appreciate your uniqueness, and make your dream a reality. Nobody lived this more than the late Nipsey Hussle. It is still tough to think we lost Nipsey Hussle just a few months ago. Yes he was a rapper but that was just his primary profession, not his purpose, his mission was greater, and to those that listened to his music, we understood his message that was in every track. Although I didn’t know him personally, this is personal. You can never truly know a person, you can only form an educated opinion based on their actions and what they say, and actions are far louder than words. From what I saw, Nipsey was a man of action and application so it’s safe to say those that followed him online and his career had a pretty good idea of what the man was all about.

A personal brand that makes an impact stems from a genuine internal driver and connection to the audience that the brand is trying to reach. Not just the desire for monetary returns. And from his music, we can assume Nipsey was focused on uplifting his people through art and application. Some may think this is easier for artists than say a lawyer or real estate broker, but it’s not. It’s about having a message, a unique story, and making a real connection with your audience. Any business owner can do this, and it all starts with your message.

Motivational Message:

The Marathon, Victory Lap, and Mailbox Money are just to name a few of Nipsey’s mixtapes and albums and they pretty much sum up his message, stay motivated, constantly work toward your goal. Sadly that is not a message that many people under the age of 40 want to consume often nowadays. Nipsey was 33 when he left this world. I’m 34 at the time of writing this so we came up in the exact same era. Young men of our era grew up watching grinders make it out and very publicly I might add. Cube (short for Ice Cube), Dame Dash, Master P, Jay-Z are some of the most notable figures from similar backgrounds and environments from my generation like Nipsey could identify with. But we also had the likes of business figures Sean P. Diddy Combs, Michael Dell, Bill Gates, Daymond John and Steve Jobs to name just a few. What do all of these individuals, and many more have in common? The hustle. Fruits of labor. Do they have different backgrounds, hell yes. Did they make their fortunes in completely different industries and have completely different origin stories, once again, hell yes. And what they have in common, is exactly what Nipsey and his music epitomized – if you put in the work, thinking differently will pay off. It’s all about putting ten toes to the ground and making your dreams a reality. Every business owner has to do this in order to create a meaningful and even profitable brand. Don’t fall for the Instagram lifestyle where everyone is a superstar without putting in work. Ask people like Barbara Corcoran, Dewayne The Rock Johnson, Kevin Hart, or Ed Mylett, winning takes hard, but more importantly, consistent work.

A fellow brand expert, Matt Orlic described his 7 keys to a successful personal brand:

  1. Authenticity
  2. Package Consistency
  3. Your Story
  4. Expertise
  5. Visibility
  6. Value Proposition
  7. Connections

An authentic and consistent message are the two most important elements because the moment your audience even thinks that you are not living the message that you claim to embody, you will spend the rest of your career trying to convince them that you are legit.

Even social media rewards consistency, many of the social media experts have shared tips on how to build a following, like these tips. Consistently sharing an authentic and relatable message is one of few unanimous tactics they all agree on. Just be you, share your real story and do it in your own unique way, and your audience will connect with you.

Your Greatest Asset is Your Uniqueness:

The more diverse a company’s workforce and/or leadership group, then the more it benefits a company’s bottom line, racially Diverse Teams Outperform Non-diverse Teams by 35%. Take for instance when Artemis Real Estate brought in a group of entry level professionals from the Clear Company program, the real estate firm wounded up benefiting by the group’s unique perspective. They drew from their experiences and real world knowledge outside of the classroom but instead from being in the workforce frontline. Most people do not want to be defined by where they started in life, because where they started was not their choice, it was just the circumstances that they were born into. When given an opportunity or at least an equal playing field, more often not individuals will showcase why they deserve the opportunity. And then becoming leaders by example, such as Nipsey. He was completely honest about where he started but did not let that define where he wanted to go and what he accomplished. This message isn’t new, but it makes stronger impact when the messenger is from the same area and still does business in the same area where the people they are trying to reach reside. The idea is that they didn’t forget where they came from so those that they are trying to reach have greater respect for the message. Thus, people like Nipsey become leaders by example and help inspire a large portion of the future workforce talent pool. Those that will understand it is your hustle that determines your level of success, not what school you went to or what part of town you grew up in.

Become a Disruptor:

The most successful entrepreneurs are disruptors. Plain and simple. Some set out to do this to a specific industry or company. Some are far more famous than others, but nonetheless they either do business differently or have changed the way others do business. They saw an opportunity or just made one. In music, P. Diddy was a disruptor by being all in the videos, on stage with his artists, and just as in your face as the artists on his label. But he was just the producer, why is the producer getting the same if not more attention than their artists? Because he was pushing the brand of his label, and the more attention his label received, the more attention his artists would receive by default. Two other disruptors, not as commonly known as P. Diddy but very famous, and uber rich Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker, the co-founders of Napster. The first major peer-2-peer platform, they became disruptors to the music industry and changed every business model going forward. Was that their initial goal? Most likely not but they were very successful. Like P. Diddy and Branson, they were focused, maximized their talents by acquiring the best set of skills to continuously expand and accomplish their entrepreneurial goals. The impact that Fanning and Parker made helped to spark platforms like SoundCloud and Limewire, all of which changed the way consumers not only purchase music but the very way that the industry tracks sales performance. Nipsey was a disruptor in his own right. He was showing artists the importance of ownership, diversifying yourself early in your career, and living by your words.


The first time I heard a Nipsey Hussle track was when I was on a flight from New York coming back home to Chicago in 2016. The track was “A Hunnit a Show” ft. Rick Ross, I was managing musicians and we had just completed a few shows in NJ and NY. The song summed up that feeling from being on the road and putting your everything into each performance, each track, and every single meeting or phone call to get that opportunity. But even more important, Nipsey had summed up what it was like to put your heart, passion, and time into ANYTHING. All a musician is an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship isn’t an industry or a profession, its being a creative of any one, two, or a dozen professional fields that you can express your uniqueness, and get paid for it.  Being a branding and marketing entrepreneur every endeavor I undertook was centered on marketing. And just as Nipsey displayed as a musical entrepreneur, start with what you love then diversify. So there isn’t any difference between him and notable entrepreneurs like Richard Branson, Daymond John and Rihanna to name just a few.

I enjoy marketing, to be more precise, my passion is helping minority entrepreneurs and small business owners understand how to leverage marketing tools to help them achieve business goals. Marketing is the only business function where the purpose is to develop an audience and generate business for a company. All companies need to have a clear and defined marketing strategy in order to be successful. No matter if a company’s budget is large or small, as long as their marketing is spot on, they will have an identified audience and capitalized on their market. Small businesses need this the most. Especially those that are minority owned and in communities that are typically underserved. As I acquire knowledge, skills, and keep making opportunities, I know it’s my duty to share these intangibles with other ambitious minority business owners. I’ll help them build their brands that is my personal brand and my company’s purpose.

So the only other question is what’s your brand and its purpose?

Ehren Muhammad

EMPro, Ltd – Entrepreneurs Marketing & Promotions, Ltd
Branding – Digital Marketing – Graphic Design