Branding is a word that comes up in conversation every day, but people don’t always know what it involves. When people make up a resume, they are representing their knowledge, talents, niche awareness, their worth to the company they’re approaching and a dozen other things. They are branding themselves. Each of us brands ourselves every day, whether we’re in business or not.
So… What is Personal Branding vs Business Branding? And can the be separated?
We recognise on the streets or in stores the lady who designs her yard with flowers and yard decorations each year to represent a different geometrical figure or a fantasy design. We recognise the guy whose fence is painted with scenes from Harry Potter movies. They now have a personal brand.
However, personal branding is different from business branding. When a man opens a small business selling, say, wallpaper he designed himself, he is branding himself. Customers will ask why they should buy his wallpaper instead of a big-box store’s wares. The big-box store has spent years branding itself. People know who they are. Another example would be the lady who sets up shop in her garden shed or garage selling Amway products. Multi-level marketing has been alive and well since business was begun.
It began with snake-oil salesmen from way back when, travelling the territories and selling someone else’s formulations. Amway has been around for quite a while and is very well branded. Here we run into the question of personal branding vs business branding and can you separate the two? The answer might shock you.
From a Business Viewpoint
The fellow with the wallpaper store has personally gone the rounds of church, the mall, the grocery store glad-handing everyone he sees in pursuit of customers. He has buttonholed people cutting their lawn, painting something or planting their gardens handing out flyers and coupons. He has bought a spot on the local radio station for further marketing and put ads in the local papers and even gone online to establish a presence there.
This man has pushed his business brand to the point that his customers see him as the business brand instead of a separate human being. The guy might have other talents and knowledge to make him a fascinating person, but all people see is his wallpaper. This man has created a monster that feeds on his other talents and knowledge.
From a Freelance Viewpoint
Let’s talk about multi-level marketing for a minute. The lady selling Amway must give her customers a little extra in order to keep them from ordering their products from another distributor. She might know a lot about herbal remedies, natural healing or organic cleaning methods. She could know something about the surfaces to be cleaned. She might have knowledge of organic gardening or natural yard maintenance methods. These bits of knowledge she passes on to her customers, bringing them back time and again when they have a question about natural or organic things. She has branded herself instead of Amway, because she is the expert.
How many times have you seen people on social media pushing health and wellness or diet formulations? Do you pay more attention to the one who tells you about exercises, cool new smoothie recipes or great ways to up-cycle your now-too-big clothing? These people are branding themselves instead of the company producing the health and wellness products. You trust them to know what they’re talking about, don’t you? This, too, could be seen as business branding, but the person doing the selling is a viable part of the equation.
From a Social Viewpoint
It is an unfortunate statement of our reality that every last thing we do ends up on social media. We can’t go out and have fun during happy hour, take up a new kind of dancing, frolic on the beach or learn a new skill like hang-gliding without it being put up on Facebook and Twitter ten seconds later. If it’s good clean fun, then it’s no problem. But if we do something in fun that makes other people wonder what we were thinking, then the brand we represent suffers.
We are told when we are hired at a company that the uniform stays in the store or office, that we can’t do anything after hours that is questionable, and, oh, by the way, your social media accounts are open to review by every single person in the world including Human Resources. So you better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I’m telling you why, Big Business is watching you everywhere. It’s gotten to the point that everyone behaves like Stepford wives on and off the clock. Yes, it’s paranoia, but it’s also one of the ways companies stay in business. It’s kinda hard to personally brand oneself when one is such a strict representative for the business brand for which s/he works.
All of us have many facets to our characters and personalities. Someone somewhere will need that knowledge at some time. Personally branding yourself separately from a company or brand will take you further than simply branding your business.
You will still be there when or if the business parts ways with you. Not to mention, the trust of your customers and your clientele rests with you, not the object you sell.
For that reason and to help you further, contact us for information and learn how we can help your Business Branding or Personal Branding.
Fancy a coffee to discuss your creative brief?