If you’re active in business, meeting others and posting on social media, then you have a personal brand.
You might not think you have a personal brand, but you do.
If you approach this strategically, you can maximise your personal brand and make it work alongside your business brand.
But you also need to understand to what extend your personal and business brands mix, and whether there are reasons to keep certain aspects of them separate.
Does a Personal Brand Matter?
If, in an idle moment, you Google yourself, what will you find?
The results of your search are what people will first find out about you. Are these online snippets simply random, fleeting glimpses of you, or are they digital breadcrumbs, drawing your audience closer to you?
This is the big difference between not having or having a strategy for your personal brand.
Reiterating the old adage that people do business with people does have value here: your personal brand puts flesh and bones on your content and gives your business a human face.
This applies at multiple stages.
If you apply for a job, then the company you’ve applied to are going to check out your social media activity as best practice.
If you schedule a business meeting, then the other party is going to check you out first.
Business reputation has always been a feature of due diligence, but now there’s information about you that’s only a couple of clicks away.
It makes sense then to try an exercise some degree of order over this information.
How Do You Build Your Personal Brand?
To a large extent, this is about communicating your mission and purpose to others.
This doesn’t have to turn you into some sort of guru. It’s not about pure ego. But it is about making your voice heard, and doing this in a way that is consistent.
Do you use LinkedIn? If so, how do you use it?
If you’re restricting yourself to a few likes, or pushing out standard sales and marketing blurb, then you’re missing a valuable opportunity.
Social media is social for a reason. It’s about people. Its overall focus is business, but it’s people-led.
So, consider your content. What can you post that will help shape other users’ perceptions of you? Don’t narrow your field so much that you only think in terms of your marketability.
Instead, consider a more holistic approach. How can your social media activity create an impression that intrigues, that makes people want to find out more?
Yes, you can talk about yourself on LinkedIn or through other social media channels, but what is it that you’re saying that others will relate to?
What you have to say needs to resonate with others. If you share a problem or issue that you know other people are experiencing, then this can come across as empathic.
But if you’re simply boasting about your fabulous lifestyle or your business success, or you’re complaining about something, then this will soon start to wear thin.
Frame your interests in the context of a wider audience, and what its pain points and issues are.
Show insight and demonstrate an openness to hear other opinions. Invite comments.
This sort of personal brand-based engagement works by creating a dialogue with your audience.
This is often easier said than done. Conveying your personality through posts, articles and comments can be tricky.
But if you build a rapport with your audience, then you can develop an online persona that reflects your particular take on the world.
This doesn’t mean you have to be a contrarian or a comedian, though a bit of both can help fix you in people’s minds.
But always be aware of your strategic objectives: you’re not building a personal brand just for your own entertainment or to pass the time. It’s a way of growing awareness in your enterprise.
Which brings us to the relationship between your personal brand and your business brand.
What Are Your Customers Looking For?
If your personal brand is all about spontaneity and sudden bursts of insight, this is fine, but people will want a certain amount of measured decision-making and structure from your business brand.
Dominic Cummings may well have put paid to the concept of being some sort of inspired but unconventional genius with questionable people-skills.
If your personal brand overshadows your business brand, this can have catastrophic consequences. The fall of Sir Philip Green’s reputation acted as a sort of pre-warning of the collapse of his retail empire.
If, however, the values your personal brand communicates translate well into a more formal brand setting, then mixing your personal and business brands can work.
The human face of a brand can give it added credibility and makes it relatable.
To Mix or Not to Mix?
How a personal and business brand intersect, or whether they should, will be particular to individual brands, and people.
If your personal brand reflects your professional expertise, then it can drive your business, and help you build trust with customers.
But if the only intersection is your core values, then there may be an argument to keep personal and business brands largely separate.
And the same platforms that can build your personal brand can also demolish it. We’re in an age where pretty much everything has the potential to go public. If your personal brand takes a tumble, will it drag everything else down along with it?
When Business Becomes Personal
A year of social distancing, remote working and economic uncertainty has left the ground feeling unsteady for a great many brands.
But conversely, the absence of face-to-face contact has heightened the value of engaging with others and maximising the potential of digital platforms to get meaningful messages across.
As we prepare for more uncertain times ahead, focusing on the personal might make more strategic sense in preparing the way for long-term recovery.
A Partisan Approach
Partisan is a Manchester-based brand consultancy. We devise brand strategies, designs and marketing to support the built environment, the local culture and the local economy.
For more information, please call us on 0161 860 7010, or email email@example.com