Have you ever been confused over whether you should brand your business or brand yourself? Have you ever wondered if you should go by your company’s name or by your personal name? How do you separate the two… or if you don’t separate the two, how do you merge who you are with what your business is about?
Which branding is for you?
You don’t need to pick between one or the other, because the answer is almost always a combination of personal branding plus corporate branding. You are the person who created your brand, and then your brand also has its own personality. Even if you have “just” a product, who is going to talk better about that product than you? Who could possibly be more passionate about your business and your brand than you?
Why did I say “almost” always? If you’re a coach or writer, for example, you would usually want to brand yourself, but if you were opening an IT company you would want to brand the company. So, the “personal plus corporate” approach doesn’t work always either.
This is not a hard-and-fast rule — you don’t always have to brand yourself, and for every Steve Jobs there is another successful tech executive that we’ve barely heard of because they weren’t interested in personal branding. Every strategy works at one point or another, but the real question is: what strategies will work for you and your company?
From my personal experience, it’s easier to get off the ground when the CEO or owner is the face of a brand. The first few years of a startup often require networking and personal relationships, and when media opportunities arise it can be helpful for potential customers to connect a face to the brand.
But if being the face of your company simply doesn’t work for your personality, you can make the choice to be in the background and just run the operational side of your business. In that case, the visual designs and content for your business will become increasingly important as they will be the primary way customers find your offerings.
The key is connection.
What resonates with your potential buyers? What would they like to see? Is your company business to consumer (B2C) or business to business (B2B)?
Most B2C businesses speak to one person and are community-focused, friendly and personal, while B2B companies usually speak in plural and as a company’s voice and not a person’s voice.
However, there are pros and cons for both decisions. On one hand a personal brand may give you the status of an expert in your field, and you could scale that way, but on the other hand a corporate brand might help more with building trust with your audience and could look more professional.
Personal branding for products versus services
There are a number of things to consider before deciding how to proceed, but the main consideration is: what is your offering?
If you are offering services, you will most likely need to go by your personal brand but still have a company’s name in case you decide to scale your business and start hiring. In the beginning, you will attend networking events, position yourself as an expert, act as a person that people want to connect with, and build relationships as yourself to develop a personal brand.
Then as your company grows, you may find yourself stepping back and focusing on branding your company instead – particularly if you’re no longer the only person working directly with your customers.
If you are offering products, it’s less important that you maintain a personal brand because the packaging designs and visual identity for your product will be the main factors that attract new customers. When someone sees your product on a shelf or in the image of a Facebook ad, they will make a subconscious decision of whether they are attracted to it within the first few seconds based on the design elements they see.
But even if your company sells products, you may decide that being the face of the company will work best with your unique preferences and target market. For example, many fashion and jewelry designers (Donatella Versace, Kendra Scott, etc.) choose to be the face of their product companies.
Ready to learn more about your brand and take your branding to the next level – whether you decide to develop a personal brand, a corporate brand, or both?
I created a value-packed resource that will help you attract your target customers and scale your business through branding! Click here to learn more.