For both businesses and individuals, a consistent online brand is essential for attracting the right audience and establishing expertise in their industries. Corporate brands and personal brands are often distinct, but when you are the face of your business, as many entrepreneurs are, you’ll have to decide how you want to integrate the two – or if you want to integrate them at all.
In order to get some perspective on the issue, a group of Young Entrepreneur Council members were asked the following question:
“Branding is an exercise most of us engage in, both in our businesses and in our personal lives. How does your personal brand intersect with your company brand online, if at all? If the two don’t intersect, why don’t they?”
Should You Mix Personal and Business Branding?
Here’s what YEC community members had to say:
1. Keep Them Separate
“I keep my personal brand separate from my company brand because of the fact that I operate more than one business and brand. It would get too confusing to audiences if I blended them all together. Also, not every audience member is interested in my personal or company brand.” ~ John Rampton, Calendar
2. Core Values Are the Only Intersection
“The only way my personal brand intersects with my company brand is through the core values. There is no other intersection; I’d like my personal brand to stay focused on my personal lifestyle and who I am as a person. At the end of the day, people don’t buy your product, they buy from the people they like. It is an emotional buy. When people know me, they are far more enticed to buy my services.” ~ Sweta Patel, Silicon Valley Startup Marketing
3. Personal and Professional Brands ‘Seed’ Each Other
“We believe strongly in the integrity of our businesses brand, it’s a reflection of us as people. For us, it all has to be related. There cannot be a separation between business brand and personal, the personal has seeded the brand and then as the business grows and hires, the brand “seeds” the personal brand of everyone it employs.” ~ Baruch Labunski, Rank Secure
4. A Personal Brand That Reflects Professional Expertise Drives Business
“A lot of my personal posts are related to the field of startups or tech, which has helped both myself and my business. When I have a tech company, many people remember this because it’s the topic of discussion that I’m continually bringing up in my personal social media pages. This has led to investments, sales and a plurality of other beneficial deals just from people connecting the dots.” ~ Andy Karuza, FenSens
5. Remember: Everything Can Potentially Become Public
“In theory, you and your business are separate entities, but in today’s interconnected world, it’s getting harder and harder to separate them. Everything you do, either as a person or a business, reflects on your reputation. That’s why I keep in mind (and remind my employees) that everything we say and do can potentially be public knowledge, so awareness and integrity are more important than ever.” ~ Kalin Kassabov, ProTexting
6. Brand from the Top Down
“It’s important to have your personal values carry over into the workplace. A workplace should have respect, honesty and commitment. A business with no values will not be able to keep up with a business with values especially if the leaders are not following them. Values work from the top down.” ~ Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS
7. Use Personal Social Media as an Extension of Company Accounts
“As the CEO and founder of my company, my personal and professional brands intersect regularly on social media. My personal accounts are primarily a behind-the-scenes look at projects my company is involved with. On both Facebook and Instagram, my personal accounts are an extension of our company accounts.” ~ Leila Lewis, Be Inspired PR
8. Put Your Personal Brand First
“Over the years, I made the mistake of focusing on building my company’s brand before mine. What I’ve learned after 20 years in the digital space is that you create companies, sell them, move to others, run multiple simultaneously. The only constant is you. Therefore, your personal brand should always come first, and be a unifying factor between your company brands.” ~ Marcela De Vivo, Brilliance
9. Maintain Integrity in Life and Business
“As the face of my business, I believe my personal integrity feeds into the brand integrity of the business. In my industry, I do my best to make my name, and my company name, synonymous with integrity and doing business the right way. This applies to the way we treat our clients, our vendors, our employees and our lending partners. When you’re known for your integrity, you’ll attract the like.” ~ Jared Weitz, United Capital Source Inc.
10. Your Personal Brand Supports Your Business
“I look at personal branding and thought leadership as a valuable marketing tool for my business. Besides, my business is such an integral part of my life, I can’t help but write and speak about topics relevant to our audience. I use my personal brand to express my own voice and as a way to build relationships and get to the point where they inevitably ask, “So what do you do?”” ~ Robby Berthume, Bull & Beard
11. Be Modest in Your Personal Brand, But Let Them Overlap
“In this day and age where competition is high, it’s probably a risk not to intersect your personal and business brand. These days, consumers want to know a bit more about your company, and that there’s an actual human being running it. It can be done in a modest fashion for those who might not be that comfortable doing so, and you should see some tangible benefits.” ~ Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance
12. Keep It Real in Both Your Personal and Professional Lives
“Sincerity, humility and authenticity are all keys to successful longevity. If you keep real with yourself throughout your journey, both as an individual and a business, you make your marketing efforts much easier. For example, as an industrial designer, much of my work entails product development. Translating that into content becomes an extension of my company’s branding and vice versa.” ~ Andrew Namminga, Andesign
13. Merge Personal and Professional to Boost Community Engagement
“I’ve had a company brand for the past 5 years, and 1.5 years ago, I launched a personal brand. All of my social media is now branded under my name, Jean Ginzburg. I, as the person, speak at events, appear on podcasts as a guest and write articles for publications. From the results I see, my community is more likely to engage with me because I am a person, versus engaging with a company.” ~ Jean Ginzburg, Ginball Digital Marketing
14. Create Content That Combines Your Personal and Professional Image
“For me, it’s important for my personal brand and business brand to intersect, and you can do this in several different ways. The best way I’ve found to do this is by becoming a contributor to content sites that you feel fit both your personal and professional image. You can then write pieces that intertwine the two, for example running a remote team and being a digital nomad.” ~ Brian David Crane, Caller Smart Inc.