In recent years, individual branding has grown–often big enough to compete with corporate branding trends. Many are at least as well known as the companies they represent. Think Neil Patel of Quick Sprout and Kissmetrics, or Robert Kiyosaki of Rich Dad, Poor Dad fame. Then there are Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, who are still synonymous with the companies they turned into global super corporations, even though one has retired to do philanthropic work, and the other died a few years ago.
They may all be very different people representing very different brands, but they’ve all created personal brands for themselves, and those personal brands have become interchangeable with the companies they created.
How Are Personal Brands Developed?
Personal brands are developed by establishing yourself as a go-to expert in your field, sharing your passion for your industry, idea and product, and being visible and approachable. Think of Pete Cashmore, the founder of Mashable. He’s a popular LinkedIn influencer, regularly appears in interviews, and is anything but the wallflower, mysterious founder.
These thought and industry leaders are visible, vocal, and, in spite of their high level of success, they’re approachable.
Why Personal Branding Matters
Personal branding matters because people still want to buy from someone they know and trust. Consumers are hardwired to be distrustful of the faceless corporation, but when someone shows up, shakes our hand, and tells us why their products rock (even in a digital environment), we’re inclined to believe them.
Building Your Personal Brand
It’s never too late to start building an effective personal brand. Even if you’ve been avoiding a public profile for years, you can start putting yourself out there today.
- Figure out what your area of expertise is. Chances are, if you’re like most business owners, it’s the same thing your company does.
- Start writing and posting blogs under your own name, and get involved in industry groups on social platforms like LinkedIn.
- While you’re at it, make sure your social platforms are fully completed, and include information about your achievements. You need to prove to people that you know what you are talking about if you want to become a thought leader.
- Offer advice to up-and-comers in your industry. If you are on top of your game they’re not going to be a threat, so when someone asks a question, answer it with valuable advice.
- If you can work up the courage to do public speaking at events and trade shows, this is another great way to showcase your expertise. If you can’t, case studies or webinars on your website are a good alternative.
- Never stop networking.
A Powerful Tool… and a Double-Edged Sword
While you’re planning and creating your personal brand, you should know that it’s one of the most important tools you can use. While it can be immensely helpful to introduce the world to the expert individual behind your corporate brand, it can also be detrimental.
No one will forget Chip Wilson, the founder of Lululemon, who was forced to step down as leader of the company thanks to comments that were taken as racist or sexist. Or, more recently, Donald Trump being fired from his own reality show for his comments.
When you create a personal brand and link it to your corporate one, you need to make sure that your image is above reproach, and that you always remember you’re representing your company. If you can do that, then this is certainly one of the corporate branding trends that you can use to great effect.