DEVELOP A SAYING
Jim Cramer cemented his brand on CNBC's Mad Money with his "Boo ya's!" Other favorites: "You're fired!," and "It's a good thing." Cindy Adams ends her gossip columns with "Only in New York, kids, only in New York." Who cares if she didn't invent it? She made it her own.
WRITE A BOOK
Or pay someone else to write one for you. The goal is to have your work become part of the popular lexicon, like The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. Failing that, just put out something that plays off people's insecurities or gives them a new formula to make money. Then trot around the speaking circuit promoting it.
HONE A DISTINCTIVE LOOK
Steve Jobs has his black turtleneck; The Donald, his comb-over. It doesn't have to be the same outfit every day, but do cultivate a memorable look. Anna Wintour may keep women chasing the latest fad as editor of Vogue, but she hasn't changed her hairstyle in years.
GET A CAUSE
Preferably one that lends itself to a rock concert. A savvy personal brand is also linked to pressing issues of the day. Al Gore's star rose after he became the face of global warming. Angelina Jolie gets better press for her work with refugees than she did for dotting her body with tatoos.
Sage of Omaha (Warren Buffett). Good. Chainsaw Al (as in Sunbeam's Al Dunlap). Not so good. If you can't get your own nickname, build your brand by giving nicknames to others. New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd has a litany of pet names for politicos.
LINK UP WITH BETTER BRANDS
They don't have to be your friends. You just need to be in the same general sphere, and then market the association. Get to the same parties; compliment them on their latest book. Invite them to post on your site. Arianna Huffington has this down to a science.
MIMIC A POPULAR BRAND
Model yourself as a variation on someone who's already made it. A green Martha Stewart (designer Danny Seo); China's Donald Trump (Shui On Group's Vincent Lo, among others). Tyra Banks was just a supermodel on TV until someone dubbed her "the next Oprah."