One of the big questions anyone in business tussles with is this: Should my brand be personal – about me – or should it be about my company?
What is a brand? It includes the look and feel of your company’s image, as portrayed through your website, social media and more. And it’s more than just what your company offers. It’s what your clients can expect from you and how that sets you apart from your competitors. Your brand is “derived from who you are, who you want to be and who people perceive you to be,” said John Williams, president and founder of LogoYes.com, in an article in Entrepreneur.com.
It’s about why you matter – as a person and as a company – your vision, purpose and mission. How you choose to portray that depends on a number of factors. Here are some points to ponder.
When to choose a personal brand for your business
One of the key advantages to having a personal brand is that people come to associate you with your business. People do business with people they know, like and trust, and it’s much easier to accomplish all three when the brand is associated with the face of a real person. That means your name is your business name, or is part of it, and your image is used in all aspects of your business – website, social media profiles and so on.
You may want to choose a personal brand if:
- You are the only person in your company. You do a lot of in-person networking and people know you as an individual first.
- Your goods and services are strongly connected to who you are as a person – say, an artist, a designer or writer.
- You offer highly personal (and personalized) services. A personal brand would be good for a hair stylist, life coach, body worker or personal trainer, for example.
When to choose a company brand for your business
Corporate-type brands work very well for some businesses (think Coca-Cola, Apple and Google) and it could work for yours, too. Here are some points to consider when choosing a company brand.
- There is no one person associated with the business. Maybe it’s family-owned and –operated, has a hired CEO or is governed by a Board of Directors. All these conditions could make it difficult to choose one “face” of the company.
- One of your major goals up front is to build the business to the point where you can sell it and make a tidy profit.
- You have many different types of dissimilar businesses. One mines iron ore, for example, another manufactures candy and a third is a pet motel.
Either type – personal or company brand – can and should be used to build awareness of your business, and to build the relationships that are so important to its success. Whichever one suits your purposes the best, your goal is to achieve the same things:
- Create a great reputation within your industry and your customer base.
- Be authentic in everything you do and say.
- Establish and maintain your perceived value.
- Be consistent.
There are two parts to being consistent. Outwardly, it’s what your customers and prospects see. It’s how your website looks, the colors you use, the images you choose, what you release through your social media channels and other communications, the way you operate your business and deal with your customers and employees, and more.
But what your customers and prospects see as your brand is the reflection of your internal consistency — the dream, vision, purpose and mission of your company…what you had in mind when you first created your company. This is the heart of everything you do, even as you adjust and correct, reinvent or recreate your business.
Always keep in mind: What is the greater good you wish to accomplish? What gift do you bring to the world?
Now that you’ve seen some of the basic distinctions between a personal and corporate brand, what type of brand do you think is best for your business? I’d love to hear your thoughts!