How Your Personal Brand and Business Brand Go Hand In Hand
Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a mid-level manager or a busy freelancer, your personal brand can have an impact on your business brand. The way you’re perceived, both online and off, should be aligned with the values and voice of your business. Companies are recognising that the boundaries between the two are weakening, and are increasingly responding by putting guidelines into place that dictate how their employees should act on social media. There’s a limit to how much control they can exert on this behaviour, of course, but the message is clear: who you are reflects on your company, whether you own it or work for it. Here’s how.
Managers and employees
Most companies have a corporate brand or set of values that help to define them, and that brand is often a valuable recruitment tool. It follows, therefore, that managers and employees are expected to reflect this brand when representing the business and beyond. At the very least, the way in which employees communicate and present themselves in-person and online should not clash with the business’ values. While everybody’s entitled to a private life, staff must be aware of how their actions can reflect on the business’ brand, and how a misalignment can reflect on them.
But it’s not just about adhering to your employer’s business brand as an employee; a refined personal brand can also open doors for you. During the recruitment process, a candidate’s personal brand can indicate to an employer whether they could be a good cultural fit for the business. Recruiters and executives alike will research candidates online, carefully review their LinkedIn profile and contact their mutual connections to assess suitability for the company – all before even scheduling a face to face interview. Consequently, it’s important to have a strong personal brand that articulates who you are and why you’re a valuable asset.
Entrepreneurs and business owners
In a competitive marketplace, having a strong brand can help you stand out from the rest. The founder of Dollar Shave Club made his company famous when he used his improv comedy skills to shoot a quirky video that went viral. GoPro, a company that makes cameras for active sports, was founded by a young man with a love for adventure sports and a willingness to take his products out into the surf with him. In both cases, the personal brand of the founder created a compelling narrative and infused character into the brand of the business. People connect with narratives about people: if you’re perceived as a good person, or an innovator, or someone with genuine passion, that reputation will carry through into your business.
Freelancers and consultants
There’s perhaps no group with a greater need to stand out from the crowd than freelancers and individual consultants. You don’t have a staff of people or, often, a visual brand to back you up, but you still need to be visible. Many freelancers also carry on business under their own name, rather than a business name, making the connection between self and business even stronger.
To stand out, think positive actions. It’s not enough to avoid business faux pas; as a freelancer, you’re in a unique position to build your brand with positive contributions. Consider writing and publishing content within your area of expertise to showcase your talents. Many reputable blogs and websites will accept guest content and gain you an audience. Speaking at events is another great way to build brand recognition, and you can’t neglect online networking and events. All these techniques will help to establish you as an expert in your field, and reinforce your brand in doing so.
Authenticity is key
Your career and personality collide in your brand, whether you’re a freelancer or a middle manager in a large company. If you project a persona within your brand that doesn’t accord with your real personality, you’ll find that it’s impossible to sustain. People have a keen ear for inauthenticity, and any hint of it risks the trust relationship that you’re working so hard to build.
Spend some time thinking about what your personal brand is to get clarity on what you have to offer. What are your passions? What special talents do you have to offer, and why are you the person to ask? What values do you seek to live your life by, and what world view do your personal and moral views add up to? How do you differ from your peers, and what unique traits make you stand out? These aren’t easy questions by any means, but they will provide you with a framework with which to structure an authentic and consistent brand.
This article was written by Tanya Ashworth-Keppel on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB. The following sources were used to compile this article: Inc, Fortune and Forbes.