You gotta glow up before you blow up.

On Drake’s latest album More Life, the opening line to his “Glow” – featuring Kanye West – says: “Watch our for me, I’m bound to glow”.

What does it mean to glow? What’s the glow up mission people keep talking about and aspiring for? What’s it got to do with personal branding?

The Urban Dictionary defines a glow up as an incredible transformation. Going from a kind of rock bottom position, straight to the top (of your game) – to a point of disbelief.

Quintessentially, to glow is to improve an aspect of oneself tremendously. We usually see the most astounding glow ups on social media, regarding: physical appearance (e.g. weight loss), achieving career goals, improving social capital, a better taste in overall style, and sometimes even a change in maturity and behaviour.

The glow up period is not instant; it spans over a number of years (typically five to 10 years). It’s most effective when someone’s financial status improves as well. This is because ‘the glow’ isn’t cheap. A lot of money, time and energy might need to be spent to invest in whatever is needed to take you to the next level.

Glow ups are easiest to see with our favourite celebrities. When we chart their journeys from ‘zero to hero’ (or so-called ‘not to hot’) we often see total transformations that inspire memes like the following:

Even our most-loved local celebs have had major glow ups. They’ve had to be patient on rocky, road-to-fame rides that only get a whole lot smoother with more money and social media following.

Sometimes the glow up is inspired by a rough patch: break-ups, loss, trauma, a need to turn your life around, wanting to prove doubters (or the ‘haters’) wrong etc. It isn’t an entirely bad thing for the initial go-to-glow to come from a source of pain, rejection or even fear. As long as throughout the journey you can reorient your purpose and pursuit. Prioritise and refocus your growth and glow to you and your own well being.

Now when we think of the link between glow ups and personal branding, it becomes more of a personalised project. It usually follows a very deliberate decision to transform oneself for the better. To glow up in terms of a personal brand means showing up, and showing out. Pay attention to set and particular ways you can present yourself much better to the waiting, watching world.

In order to glow, you have to know yourself better first. A lot of work needs to go into understanding your strengths and weaknesses. Learn where to draw your personal limits. These are limits that will help you shape the distance and depth of your brand as the time goes by.

Ask yourself the following fundamental questions:

Who are you becoming or wanting to become? What do you like and dislike? What are you most good at? What do you want to make out of your journey? How much growth do you see between your starting point and where you could end up? What will it take for you to be the most confident, comfortable, capable, competent, and content with who and where you are in life?

The glow up process needs patience. You shouldn’t compare your glow to the next person’s. That’s because glow ups and personal branding projects are extremely individual. They are unique stories for each person. You want to aim for growth and glow simultaneously. Don’t let one to happen without the other.

Grow up, Show up, Glow up, then get ready to Blow up!

Feature Image sourced from:


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