Building and Marketing your Personal and Business Brand with Vanessa Li, Content Creator and Founder of Ness (Part 2)

Vanessa Li is a content creator, creative director, consultant and founder at ness, with a following of 99k across Instagram and TikTok. Alongside her personal endeavours, Vanessa is also currently a Comm/Law student at USYD and works at a law firm called Gilbert and Tobin.

Find Vanessa on Instagram and TikTok (@vanessaa_li) and her website (

In part 2, we ask Vanessa for advice on how to build a brand and social media presence for our businesses, as this is often crucial to success but something we struggle with. We also talk about why it’s important to have a distinct personal brand and how to build and showcase your personal brand to stand out in recruiting, at work and beyond. 

When working on our businesses, marketing and reaching potential customers is one of the main roadblocks. What are the basics of social media marketing and branding for someone just starting out?

Vanessa emphasises that strong brands often have a distinct voice and character. “I think the most successful businesses is when the brand has a character, they become a kind of person.” This includes being consistent with colours, imagery and logo whereby strong brands are recognisable even when you forget the name. She also highlights the importance of nailing social media, where for many B2C businesses, “social media really is the make or break of the business.”

How do you grow a new account from a zero following?

Vanessa draws on her recent viral video on Tik Tok that has reached over 1 million views as an example for how this helped her launch her business. She emphasises the importance of leveraging trends to produce viral content which can boost your growth and sales dramatically overnight.

Moving on from business brands, how do you think about your personal brand?

“I definitely think my personal brand is being authentic I definitely think that’s something that I really value in myself.”

Do you carry this personal brand of authenticity in other parts of your life outside of social media?

“I actually had a really big struggle between if I should disclose to potential corporate employer employers that I have this side hustle that I’ve been doing or if it’s cringe. I realised it’s so important to be authentic when you’re presenting yourself and your personal brand even in a corporate setting. There are so many unique things that make you, you and it would be a shame to hide that from my future employer or from people around you”

I (Sydney) currently have a different ‘brand’ I project in different scenarios. How can we work out who our authentic self is?

This section of the podcast is in a case study structure where Vanessa helps us reflect on our personality traits and core values to create our personal brand. “I think the core of your personal brand is the personality traits and the values that you embody. I think those traits and those values can transcend any context so I don’t think that there needs to be a hard line between your personal self vs your professional self.”

When building my brand, I struggle with who I am vs who I want to be. Can you build your personal brand based on who you want to be?

I think it’s completely fine to build your brand off who you want to be because you will become that brand. I think that mindset is extremely important any scenario.”

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