What’s the difference between a personal brand and a business brand?
Seems like it would be pretty straightforward, doesn’t it?
A personal brand is about you. A business brand is, well, based on a business.
But what happens when you are your business? Whether you are a business of one or the face of a multi-million dollar corporation, how do you distinguish between the two? Which do you need… or do you need both?
I recently shared my frustrations about fine-tuning my own brand with Career Coach – and aligned partner – Jim Dodgen.
Even though much of my business is helping business owners uncover their story to build a solid brand strategy, the process of branding is something that is difficult to do from the inside.
So I’ve been like the cobbler who has no shoes.
Jim’s response to me was expansive in its simplicity: “Maybe you need to redefine your personal brand.” And it was right on target.
When you are your business your business brand is an extension of you. Of your strengths as they relate to your business and, more importantly, what they mean to your customers. So when your personal brand shifts, your business brand suddenly seems off-kilter.
Your Personal Brand
As Jim describes it, a personal brand is attached to you. It goes where you go.
Your personal brand is a combination of five elements: 1) your core strengths, 2) your work style, 3) your articulated passion, 4) your personal mission statement (12 words or less that informs the work you do) and, 5) your value propositions (what people can hire you to do). I use three assessments: the Strengths Finder 2.0, the MBTI and your “story” (our passion comes from our story) to help clients get clear about who they are at the core and the passion(s) that drive what compels them to do excellent work.
But your “Personal Brand” doesn’t just have value at work. You take “it” with you no matter the venue – to family events and projects, in volunteering, in pursuing a hobby or a sport. Wherever life takes you, your strengths, style and passions are always there revealing your core, most important contribution.
One of the things that sets Jim apart is how he uses these assessments – and interprets and aligns them with your passion – to help you develop your personal brand.
One strength that rose to the top in my StrengthsFinder assessment was the quality of “Connectedness”.
People with this trait see the links between all things. “Connectedness” people instinctually understand how things, people and events are connected and impact one another. Like immediately zooming in on those things that have the potential to head south quickly at a wedding (when the photographer is taking too long with the wedding couple). Or talking the landscaper’s ear off about how to make some extra income with a portfolio site for all of the amazing nature pictures he takes.
Your Business Brand
A business brand is attached to a business entity.
More than just a name for your company, a business brand is an identity built around the business. A persona created to help inform what you want customers to think about your business and the experience clients can expect from you – and everyone who works there.
The benefit with this is that the brand is fixed on the business. It is your company that the client hires… which can decrease the expectation of having your personal attention 24/7. It also makes it easier to step away and sell, should the time come.
But what happens when it is just you? Or just you and a small staff?
This is where the lines between the two blur. But the basics still hold true:
- A personal brand is about you.
- A business brand is about your business.
The difference is that when you are your business, branding your business starts with you. Because the business brand will always be a reflection of you and what you are known for.
But it is just a slice of you.
We all have many strengths and facets of our personality.
Not all of them relate to our business. The trick is to pull out those attributes that translate into benefits for your customers.
One of my clients was starting a business completely unrelated to anything she’d ever done before. But the #1 thing that she had always been known for is being reliable. Whether it’s being at a friend’s side through a family crisis or reaching out to her professional network to help find answers to a client’s question, she’s there. She does everything within her power to help. Reliability is a trait that will be true to her wherever she goes… so we established it as a core tenet and attribute of the new business.
You may have a passion for numbers. Be the epitome of punctuality. Or be more of a free spirit.
Build that into your business brand.
So how does “Connectedness” translate to my business? As a marketing consultant and strategist, my focus is obviously on marketing. But I’ve always intuitively approached it within the context of the business and the owner/key staff. After all, a marketing message or tactic may be perfect for the audience. But if it is at odds with anything happening in the business or the owner’s own personality and passion, how effective would that message be?
Do You Need Both a Personal Brand and a Business Brand?
The short answer is yes.
Everyone could benefit from having a clear understanding of their own brand… the way that they want to be perceived in the world that can transfer with them from job-to-job and from corporate life to business owner.
Is a Personal Brand necessary to establish a solid brand for your business?
To figure that out, I’d recommend sitting down with your business coach, marketing professional, or whoever you would consider your “board”… those people you rely on for advice and counsel regarding your business.
People who can be objective about you and your business.
The closer you are to the face of your business – whether you are “it” (meaning the primary contact with customers), or you’re Richard Branson and “who” you are is as much a reflection on your multi-million dollar company as the actions of the company itself – the more you need to understand your own, personal brand.
If you open up a dog grooming business, hire several groomers and don’t identify yourself as the owner to customers, then the business brand stands on its own. However if you are the groomer – are clearly the person in charge and interacting with customers all day – then the brand is all about you.
I used to go to this dog groomer who looked like he stepped off an 80’s heavy metal album cover (if memory serves, he was in a metal band in his previous life). Unlike the sleek storefront I go to now, lined with organic dog food and frilly bows and collars, the location was in an industrial park and was very low-key… clean, nice… but “no muss, no fuss.” It worked for him. And he was always booked.
As for myself, I’ve begun the process of redefining my personal brand. I’m expecting it will help clarify some things in my business and am looking forward to getting my business brand back into focus!
Jacqui Genow is the founder and principal of J. Genow Marketing. She works with clients in building Marketing Roadmaps, fine-tuning their brand message and coaching them in how to improve their marketing. As a business Marketing Strategist, her focus goes beyond marketing to understanding the connection between marketing decisions made today and how they can positively impact a client’s business in the future. Contact Jacqui to find out how improving your marketing can improve your business.