A brand refers to a name, design, symbol, slogan, and other features that are used to identify a business. It’s how you know a laptop is a Macbook if you see an apple silhouette, or how the colors blue, red, yellow, and green in that particular order will remind you of Google.
This practice used to be limited to companies, but thanks to the internet and our growing fascination with our social media presence, there has been a steady rise of branding on a personal level in recent years.
In The Brand Gap, Marty Neumeier says that building a successful corporate brand requires answering three questions:
- Who are you?
- What do you do?
- Why does it matter?
These questions are also applicable for building a personal brand, but it’s still important to know the difference between the two.
Difference between personal brand and corporate brand
A corporate or company brand involves multiple factors, including visual identity, company culture, customer perception, market dominance, and purpose. All these factors require consistency across the board in order to make a corporate brand recognizable, establish their place in the market, gain the trust of their customers, and generally make the company and its products more appealing to their target market. Behind every strong branding is a carefully thought out strategy and the commitment of each employee to uphold the brand.
On the other hand, a personal brand focuses on how an individual presents themselves and their work. Personal branding involves the individual’s online presence and professional reputation. Though far more flexible than a corporate brand, it also benefits from a conscious effort to elevate one’s reputation by influencing public perception of the individual.
Personal Brand vs Corporate Brand
Ever wonder why the onboarding process when you first join a company often involves introducing their mission and vision statements? This is to help employees get on board with the company values so everyone in the business is working towards the same goals.
When working for a company, you are expected to become a brand advocate. This includes upholding values within and outside of work premises – that’s why there are people who get fired when they’re caught going against these values even when they’re off the clock. It’s bad for business!
But employees don’t have to lose their whole identity to their employer. Employees can still maintain their own personal brand, as long as it doesn’t contradict company values. Essentially referring to one’s reputation, your personal brand exists whether it’s something you intentionally try to shape or not.
What is your skillset? What do you do best? What do you stand for? How can you be an asset to a company? What are your relationships with your co-workers and clients like? Consider how your peers and other people in the industry perceive you as your personal brand.
Individuals can carry their personal branding over when they start a business, but they can also create a separate company brand. Doing the latter is a great way to take the spotlight off the owner and to focus instead on products and services. A strong company brand would offer more opportunities for success with scalability, the ability to expand, and meet higher market demands.
Why it’s important to have a personal brand?
While personal brands are historically more common in professions like law and entertainment, other professionals are now able to build their personal brand through their online and offline presence. Some sites like LinkedIn even allow connections to endorse their colleague’s skills. This will help build your credibility, typically with professional colleagues and potential employers, before they even meet you.
This is an ongoing effort that will benefit you when you start looking for new job opportunities, as future potential employers will check your online presence. Presenting the best version of yourself online and at work can help with career advancement. Additionally, identifying your personal brand can also give you more confidence in your work and work ethics.
Some tips for an effective personal brand
Determining your personal brand requires truthfulness – don’t pretend to be someone you’re not just because it would look good on your resume. Use the unique combination of your personality, interests, skills, and experience to help you stand out from the competition.
- First impressions are important. You don’t have to be a designer to keep your professional information organized and free of spelling and grammatical errors. Use a good quality photo of yourself with sufficient lighting.
- Showcase your personality. Getting the work done is important, but everyone prefers to work with people with good personalities.
- Double-check your social media accounts and delete posts that might be misunderstood, stir controversy, or generally have a negative vibe. Otherwise, make sure your personal accounts are in private.
- A personal brand still needs to have some level of consistency, but not necessarily in terms of color palettes and other visual aspects. This requires being truthful and coherent across the board; you can’t claim to be strongly against tobacco, then turn out to be working for a cigarette company. Though it’s unlikely that anyone will do an in depth audit of your online presence, just one small catch can make you come off as dishonest or flaky.
- Focus only on one or two platforms where your account is public. Depending on the industry you’re in, a LinkedIn profile and a Facebook account is generally enough.
- Check yourself at work. Be mindful of how you treat coworkers and how you conduct yourself in the workplace.
While corporate brands are carefully curated and require a whole team to do research, brainstorming, and executing, all you need to start building your personal brand is you. Stop putting so much pressure on it and start bringing out your authentic and best self!
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