A darling new client brought me a recent challenge.
He wants to personally brand himself in order to stand out in a crowded space. The personal brand is clever, catchy and strong. All good things.
However, from where I sit, things are clear: the personal brand he’s shooting for – what it stands for, what it’s supposed to represent — is not parallel to what his business does. More importantly, it’s not going to help in the process of where he wants his business to grow.
This struggle isn’t unique to entrepreneurs. On the big stage, it plays out by companies like Burger King.
In blind taste tests, Burger King’s burgers win on taste every time. That’s people saying “you’re really great at what you do!”. Yet, they keep trying to add a layer of personal branding on – most famously with The King.
The King got attention (maybe not the most positive attention, but attention no less). Yet it did nothing for sales, loyalty, or consumer preference.
This “personal” brand agent didn’t support where Burger King wanted to take their business. A big, expensive attention-getting attempt that got eyeballs, but didn’t pay off.
You might reason that my client should just drop the schtick, right? Well, that’s difficult to do when you’re eager to (and need to) stand out in a highly competitive industry.
Together, we’re working on developing the personal brand into something that can work for him as a figurehead, and something that he can transition out of over time. Kind of like a reverse Richard Branson.
This adjusted personal brand helps him build a base of clients (and sales), and we’ll work to position it as a complement to his business and it’s ever-evolving goals.
Here are two ways to prepare a personal brand that will fit with your business brand:
- Make sure the personal brand values are parallel to and an amplification of the business brand.
If the business values transparency, the personal brand can just take this a little bit further – a “tell all” approach to content strategy, or a “caught being honest” weekly column may work well.
- Follow a few brand mentors who do a great job billing themselves as a “2.0″ human being – showcasing their ‘super power’ in their personal brand… and highlighting that same ‘super power’ in their company.
Watch how they shine their spotlight on like-minded individuals in their company (and beyond). They’re building their personal and company brands by the company they keep and talk about.
For example, Toms (the shoe company) does a great job highlighting the volunteer work of every employee, a key driver for founder Blake Mycoskie.