The difference between business brand and personal brand
So, this is a common question I get asked about business brands versus personal brands.
And the conversation comes up more for people who are in small business or freelancers or sole traders. Whether to invest in creating a brand around a business name and the business persona, or whether to invest in promoting yourself.
Now, the schools of thought have changed over the years and certainly when I started my business in 2009, it felt that you needed a business name to be taken seriously. So the business had a name and the brand and the logo.
Personally I didn’t have a website for the first few years, but I was told those were the things you needed to start. And so a lot of people did do that and spent time and effort and energy creating a brand.
Well, the challenging thing is then how do you talk about yourself under that brand as the business owner? And how do you talk about the business is it is it we do this and we do that as “we” Lovelly Communications?
The speaking about the business as a “we” was probably more with a growth mindset of I am going to grow the business and I’m going to have more people in the business. Well then yes, of course, it would be a way and maybe you talk about yourself in third person, “Our director does x, y and z”.
However, the challenging part of it is that you can go one of two ways. You can either end up separating yourself and talking about yourself in third person so much that you’re not really able to identify yourself with the business. The other situation that happens often is that people infuse so much of themselves and get so entwined as a person with the business that the business almost ends up overtaking who they are. And they feel so intrinsically linked to the business that if they ever did want to sell it, close it or leave it, there’s a challenge in that separation. They’re so involved and so tied to the business, personally, that that’s a lot of the brand equity in their name and persona and the brand strength lies with that person. That becomes a real risk.
So let’s look at a case study of this and a way that I feel it’s been done really well. And that is Sir Richard Branson and his Virgin group.
Sir Richard Branson - The ultimate personal brand
So Richard Branson is certainly my #1 example when it comes to personal brand. If you ask most people to describe Richard Branson, they’re going to come up with the same few words. He is engaging, he is outgoing, he is an entertainer and his brands are fun. And that’s because Richard Branson himself is all of those things.
But you know, also Virgin, the company has taken on those elements without having Richard be there all the time and always be so involved. So, yes, he turns up on a plane every so often, or he goes up to the, you know, originally Virgin Records or Virgin Mobile and rocks up to do some PR. But he isn’t necessarily involved day to day and those brands run on their own. They run independently of him.
He is still Richard Branson, and they have their own brand. He is the founder and they sit separately. So he infused Virgin with his personal brand without overshadowing it or overtaking it and needing to be so intrinsically linked to it. He can still be himself, he can still live his own life and pursue his own interests, including writing books and doing speaking engagements and things like that without the brand of Virgin being necessarily impacted.
Back to the question! Personal or Business?
Building a brand is both a time and a monetary investment and you need to decide, where do you want to put your money?
Where do you want to put that time?
What do you want to invest in?
Ultimately, the thing that’s going to be continuing and everlasting in your life is your brand. It’s you!
So working on that foundation, spending the time and the energy, the effort to get back to and reconnect to who you are, and to present your unique self, that’s going to help you to have better connections. And ultimately, when people are working with you, it’s because of you.
It’s not because of flashy business names and a great branding color scheme. Yes that might attract them initially, but it’s you and the strengths and the skills that you bring that have grown your business and will continue to.
So infusing your brand with those elements of yourself, pulling out what you want that brand to stand for, and building that up so that it can stand on its own. Pick the characteristics, the strengths that you possess and make those the branding guidelines of your business. Educate and encourage your staff to take that on, but you get to remain unique with your life experiences as well as those combinations of traits. They are independent of one another, yet aligned!
Really, the time and energy investment is on you and making sure that your brand is strong, your brand is clear and your brand is consistent.. It’s ensuring that when you are engaging with people, they feel connected. They feel connected to you. They want to work with you.
So, the long answer to a short question is, you do need to work on your personal brand. I feel that is where the strength lies. And know that from doing this foundational personal development work on yourself, it will become clearer how to communicate your business brand.