Somewhere at the beginning of a business, an entrepreneur needs to make a critical marketing decision: should they build the business around themselves or should they create something completely separate?
Selling yourself vs. your business is a decision that every entrepreneur wrestles with. Your personal brand is built around you — the person. Your business will be branded with your name, your social media presence, your videos, etc. A business brand is an identity you create specifically for the business, separate from yourself, meaning a new name, tagline, etc.
Sometimes it can be difficult to even separate the two, which can leave your company in a marketing gray area. Branding — which is the core identity associated with your company — is a crucial part of growing your business, so it’s important to understand what choice works best for you.
Like any other decision, there are pros and cons to personal vs. business branding. Here’s a quick look at both options.
In this day and age, anyone has the capability of creating a strong personal brand. Social media and easy-to-use website tools have made it simple to create an identity around yourself.
A strong example of a personal brand? Dave Ramsey.
The charismatic, “most trusted voice in money” has created an entire company around his name, selling books, programs and products donning his face and advice. You probably didn’t know the name of Ramsey’s company is actually Lampo Group, Inc, which oversees six divisions geared toward financial education. While that is an extreme example, it’s important to understand just how powerful personal branding can be.
A pro to personal branding is flexibility. As your business grows, so will your products, presumably. A personal brand is built around an individual, therefore not tied to one product or service. With a business brand, it can be hard to shift away from an initial product.
Another benefit to personal branding goes back to the age-old sales adage: people buy from people. If a customer feels they can get to know you and trust you, they’ll be much more likely to buy from your company. Consistently posting on social media, making videos and producing information will help your customers feel a connection with you, the brand.
A con to personal branding is that the company is tied only to you. If you were injured or ran into a public relations issue, your business will undoubtedly take a hit. To take the above example, if Dave Ramsey wasn’t in the constant limelight for whatever reason, his business would probably lose sales. His name and presence is the most important part of the business.
On the other, building a business brand takes much more work than a personal brand. The reason being you’ll have to create something completely from scratch. But if done right, your company’s name will carry a lot of weight when people hear it.
Take Chewy, for example, a company that sells pet products online. Chewy brands itself as the “Company of Animals,” and that spills into every facet of their company. If you receive the wrong product, Chewy will send out the right one for free and ask that you donate the wrong product to a local animal shelter. The company will go even as far as sending personalized items, like a painting of your dog. On Twitter during Valentine’s Day, Chewy posted cards with pictures of animals and whimsical taglines.
Chewy clearly took the business branding approach, and has attempted to endear itself to all pet owners.
That’s one of the benefits of a company brand: you can position yourself however you want from the get-go. Since this brand is created from thin air, it can go any direction you want. Another benefit is that it forces you to think through your business plans: the name, ideal customers, products, what you’ll be known for, etc. After all, branding goes beyond just the name and tagline — it’s incorporated into everything you do.
The con of a business brand is it puts you in a somewhat of a box. If you decide to change the direction of the company, you may have to completely recreate your brand and identity.
What’s right for you?
So, what’s the right choice for you? The answer is it depends.
You can find a happy medium between the two. After you create a business brand, you can use your voice to establish a personal brand around a topic — a strategy also known as thought leadership. Or you can heavily lean into one of the two aforementioned brand strategies if they feel right.
Whatever you decide to do, it’s important to be consistent. The only way branding works is if it shows in every arm of your business, from your Facebook posts all the way to your customer service.