Should I Focus On A Personal Brand Or A Business Brand?

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I was sitting in a meeting with a client. It was our first meeting and we were talking about building a brand. As a senior executive he had experience with conversations about brands and branding, but this time it was different. He didn’t know how or why it was different, but he struggled to maintain the normalcy of this conversation that he thought he had had so many times before.

What he didn’t know at the time, was that he wasn’t having that same conversation. This time it was different.

You see, his plan was to leave his company and further build a company he co-founded on the side. He knew he had to become the face of the company and that the company still needed its own identity so they could sell it in a few years. So why was this conversation so hard for him?

The conversation was so hard because he wasn’t having the same conversation as before—it truly was a different conversation. Let’s look at the differences between personal brands and business brands.

Personal Brands

A personal brand is built around a specific person—their personality, beliefs, lifestyle, and interests. It usually leads with a person’s name or persona. In the end, it is attached to someone.

Because personal brands are so individualized, they tend to be more fluid or flexible than company brands. If you change your focus or want to offer something different you can do so with relative ease.

Personal brands are ideal are professional speakers, solopreneurs (think artists, authors, or coaches), and those seeking to find a new job.

There are a few challenges to personal brands. Your name, at least to start, won’t be associated with what you do. So, you’ll need to craft a tagline or a WOW statement as I call it with my clients. This will help people get to know what you know. Another challenge you’ll face is scaling your business. As your business grows, you won’t have the time to do the things you did before. You’ll need to bring on help and most likely clients are going to want YOU, not someone else.

Business Brands

A business brand is built around an identity created for a business, organization, or entity. It usually leads with a separate name that is created specifically for the business.

A business brand forces you to think through the plans for your business. You’ll think through the target market, offerings, the future, and even a vision. It allows your market to get attached to something other than just a particular person. This means you can easily have a team, or if someone gets abducted by aliens (I don’t like the hit by a business analogy), your business brand isn’t as directly affected—it can go on. It means you can retire and possibly still have an income.

A business brand makes it easier to sell your business because the brand becomes the asset that people or other companies will pay for. Business brands tend to not be as flexible and more valuable than personal brands for this reason.

Which one is easier to create? Well, it depends. In my experience, building a personal brand involves a lot of self-reflection and that can be challenging for some. Building a business brand is about creating what doesn’t exist, so it can seem like there are more steps to be done. Oh, and by the way, “easy” isn’t how you make the decision. And, that’s the wrong question, it’s not always a which “one”.

This is the reason my client was having a hard time during our branding conversation. He was accustomed to business brand and product brand discussions while we needed to have a conversation about building a business brand while simultaneously building personal authority around expertise—which is a different conversation.