It’s hard to overestimate the importance of branding in the 21-century marketplace. In a world saturated by advertising, where everyone’s daily life is endless rushing around, it’s increasingly difficult to grab potential clients’ attention. Even if you manage to seize their attention, getting them to commit can be difficult because they lose your card, forget to call, don’t have time, and so on.
One of the most effective ways to combat this is through careful branding. Why is branding effective? Because branding is about human connection, something that we all naturally crave.
Business Branding: Humanizing Your Company
In a previous post, we defined branding as establishing a persona for your company. If your company was a person, its brand would be its personality. But why does your company need a personality to begin with?
Michael Stelzner, founder and CEO of Social Media Examiner, explains that “People don’t do business with companies. They do business with people they like. We have relationships based on trust and mutual connections. There’s just something about a connection with a human being that creates a level of endearment and customer loyalty beyond any relationship a company could ever reach.”
You can see this principle at play with people who follow businesses on social media. They literally treat these companies like their friends, choosing to follow them, engaging with posts, reposting content, and even sending them messages. It’s also reflected in your friend who exclusively uses Apple products or your aunt who only drinks Diet Coke. Over time they’ve developed a bond with the product, and that bond often begins with branding that resonates with the customer on a personal level.
If customers connect with your brand emotionally, they will return over and over. Keeping repeat customers requires fewer resources than recruiting new customers, and customers who truly believe in your brand will become brand advocates who will help spread your content, providing valuable, free testimonials that can, in turn, help further establish your brand.
What Is Personal Branding?
Business branding is pretty familiar to most of us. Even if we might not be able to explain branding, we recognize it when we see it in big companies like Disney or Google. But what about personal branding? And is personal branding important for you?
Personal branding is largely about controlling your online presence. Just like a company tries to protect their reputation by putting their best foot forward, individuals can use social media, networking sites, and personal websites to present their best selves.
If business branding is about creating a “personality” for your business, personal branding is about expressing who you are professionally. However, personal branding is more flexible than a resume in the sense that it can include your hobbies, interests, side projects, volunteer service, and a little about your personal relationships. (Tasteful family vacation shots and pics of you and your pals are fine, just keep things PG.)
Even if your personal brand is crafted to show the best you, what you choose to include or leave out says a lot about what you value and how you want to be seen. It can provide clues to your personality such as whether you get along with others, have a stable life, or are open to new experiences. These clues can give employers an impression of whether you’re more likely to fit with their company or fly the coop quickly.
Personal Branding: The New Portable Resume
If you think shaping your online presence doesn’t matter, think again. This past March Business News Daily ran an article about how employers use social media for screening job candidates. The article cites a 2018 CareerBuilder survey that claims 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process. Importantly, these employers are not just trying to eliminate candidates with problematic profiles, but they are also evaluating how well the candidate will fit with their company’s culture.
In fact, personal branding has become so important to the hiring process that 47% of employers surveyed said they will not hire a candidate they cannot find online. When asked why, 20% said they expect candidates to have online accounts. Many added that they don’t like to call candidates and invest time in interviews before they know something about them, and others said that no online presence makes it seem like a candidate might be hiding something.
Further, a personal brand is a sort of living resume, and it’s becoming increasingly important as the workforce changes. We’ve previously cited a 2019 Bureau of Labor Statistics survey that claims the average worker today stays at a job 4.4 years and will change careers 5-7 times during their working life. With the rise of freelancing, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, it’s safe to say the workforce will look very different in the near future. Having an established personal brand is an important component in networking and staying relevant in a rapidly-changing economy.
Should I Brand Myself Or My Company?
When it comes to branding, it’s not unusual for a company’s brand to be built around a famous founder or CEO. Great examples of this are Steve Jobs of Apple or Elon Musk of Tesla, but this happens with small mom-and-pop businesses, too. It raises an important question: if you’re a business owner, should you brand yourself or your business?
There’s not necessarily a right answer to that question. Both personal branding and business branding carry benefits and complications.
For instance, personal branding is more flexible. Gary Vaynerchuk built a career as a social media marketer, but his work life has taken many twists and turns since then. Writing for his website, he explains, “A lot of people I know started out as marketing gurus but now sell something completely random, like carrot juice for example. One of the things I like about [branding] your own name (like I do my social accounts) is that you can evolve with it.” While your job title and field might change, the values that have helped you become successful will be clear throughout your work history. In some ways, personal branding forces employers to look beyond things like job title to consider candidates more holistically.
On the other hand, selling a business is difficult when the brand identity is tied to someone other than the company’s owner. Businesses can be rebranded, of course, but often the brand is what makes the business successful and rebranding can push away customers who have already established a bond with the company’s original brand. Another disadvantage of personal branding is that often it doesn’t make clear what a company does.
However, it’s not always necessary to choose between personal branding or business branding. Some business owners choose to establish a brand for their company that is distinct from their personal brand. This is a great option for people with itchy feet who not only move from company to company, but enjoy jumping to new fields. If you’re the kind of person who has already started two or three different businesses, then likely having separate personal and business branding will be your best option so that your company can flourish even if you leave, and so that you can carry your reputation with you more easily.
Shaping Your Image To Shape Your Future
Although personal branding may feel unnatural for some people, it is an important part of having a successful career in the modern workplace. Thankfully, personal branding is more flexible than business branding, and there’s no one right way to do it. A great starting point for building a personal brand is to consider yourself, your values, and your strengths. Those characteristics should be reflected in your brand. Looking at examples of personal branding from other people in your industry can also help spark ideas for your own brand. Just remember to reflect authenticity and continuity across all of your digital platforms and you’ll have an established personal brand in no time!
Nothing establishes a brand quite like a custom, branded website. And that’s what you get from TracSoft’s web design services—a website tailored to your business’ unique needs. Mobile-ready and backed by TracSoft’s cybersecurity, your website will be designed to be functional, beautiful, and professional. Contact us today to get started expressing your brand.
Looking to learn more about building a successful online presence? Check out our recent blog posts Using Social Media For Successful Social Networking and How To Create A Winning Brand Style Guide to learn how to craft a successful, converting brand for your business.