Lessons in Personal Branding from Chelsea Handler

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If you’re starting out building your personal brand and career, there are lots of lessons in personal branding you can pick up from the E! Network’s Chelsea Handler.

Whether you agree or disagree with the specifics of her more than slightly edgy brand–I think of Chelsea Handler as a younger, raunchier, glitzier Joan Rivers–she’s been building a solid economic foundation for her future.

Chelsea Handler’s branding 101 success

A lot of success is due to hard work and consistent brand execution. The obvious success elements of her brand include:

  • Consistent presence. Although she is constantly touring throughout the United States on weekends, her program airs Monday-Thursday evenings at 11:00 PM (in most markets). No matter what the season or the weather, there’s always a fresh show, four days a week.
  • Consistent image. Chelsea Handler’s message pushes the limits of taste by references to her own sex life plus commentary on “sex news of the day,” i.e., politicians caught in compromising positions, actors and actresses making out and breaking up, etc. There’s also commentary and examples of outrageous moments from recent reality shows, brief interviews with stars with new movies (or books), and a lot of self-deprecating humor and teasing her staff.
  • Shaking things up. In order to keep the show fresh, although based in Hollywood, CA, her program often takes the show on the road, broadcasting from Australia, for example. This provides numerous topics for pre- and post-event promotions and show content.
  • Synergy. But, Chelsea Handler is more than a successful syndicated cable network hostess and successful touring comedienne. She has created a powerful synergy between her program and her nationwide tours; she’s also a successful author. She’s written 3 books, and, there are usually 2 books at a time listed in various locations on the New York Times bestseller list. So, her TV program promotes her books, her books promote her program, and both support her touring.

Building personal relationships

The synergy is quite powerful; her program promotes her frequent book signings, which also take place at her comedy shows.

Chelsea Handler’s book signings put her in personal contact with her fans–providing an opportunity to exchange pleasantries and learn their names while signing their newly-purchased books.

Chelsea’s synergy extends to her strong use of social media. In addition, she’s launched a new E! Network show, After Lately.

But, wait, there’s more!

The aspect of Chelsea Handler’s brand that most fascinates me, however, is her equity-building for the future.

Although currently at the top of her game, an attractive woman traveling around the country, playing to sold-out arenas and comedy clubs, there inevitably will come a day when she won’t want to get in another chartered airplane for a cross-country flight.

And, that’s precisely where most branded experts go wrong

To me, the “big takeaway” from looking at Chelsea Handler’s brand has been the steps she’s taken to build a brand with her in the center, but one that allows her to delegate to others.

This, of course, frees her from the necessity of doing everything herself…allowing her to leverage the time and talents of her staff. She’s created an ensemble, a recognized brand that can grow over time, while providing her the time to write more books or create new programs.

Chelsea Handler has mastered the lesson of becoming a branded entrepreneur, rather than a self-employed professional with a recognizable brand–but nothing to sell but their own time!

The benefits of becoming a branded entrepreneur may not be as obvious or as necessary today, but the advantages will become increasingly obvious in the years to come.

Already, the Comedians of Chelsea Lately’s schedule is growing, fueled by the exposure and familiarity of their appearances on the Chelsea Lately Show, and the new After Lately show filling up.

What’s your equivalent of the Comedians of Chelsea Lately?

How are you leveraging your personal brand by creating future sources of income by training others and learning to delegate so you can profit while indulging your passions, nurturing your family, or just reading (and writing) by the pool?

First-time authors, writing their first book to build their personal brand, have to be especially vigilant and creative, looking for ways to build a personal brand that has an element of leveraging that can earn money without their personal, continuous, hands-presence and involvement.

Authors are usually on their own; few literary agents or book coaches can provide the business acumen and long-term strategic guidance, and college and university courses often focus on the tools of writing, not how to profit from writing.

What steps have you taken to multiply your current income and insure your future income–or are you content to always be a one-man band? Share your impressions of Chelsea Handler’s personal branding lessons and questions, below, as comments.


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