Branding fascinates me because its definition has changed drastically over the years. In the past, brands like Dove, Hershey, Chanel and Dior were recognizable because of the name and the reputation around it. However, for most of these brands, the face and personality was often irrelevant. I don’t ever remember hearing much about Mr. Dove or Ms. Hershey.
That being said, business has completely transformed and now it’s all about the personal brand of the founder, owner or even the employees that make up an organization. A strong brand reputation is still absolutely necessary, but we have evolved to care more about the person behind the brand rather than the brand itself.
For example, look at Chip and Joanna Gaines. We love Magnolia because they created it. We bought into their personal brand before we ever bought into their business.
What Is A Personal Brand?
I realize this is a term used loosely in our current business culture, but if you can understand it and execute it, the reputation of your company will grow exponentially. In short, personal branding is allowing the world a glimpse into who you are outside of your company. Although this wasn’t always a priority, the world of social media has allowed people access to the personal details of one’s life.
Your personal brand is also your secret weapon that can be used to set you apart from your competition. Gary Vaynerchuck, one of the most successful marketers in the world, says, “Your personal brand is your reputation. And your reputation is the foundation of your career.” Essentially, by building a personal brand, you are insuring your company with who you are. You may be thinking that’s a lot of pressure. You’re right. However, if you are bold enough to show people who you are, you’ve already gained more trust than your competitor.
Why Is It Important?
It’s not a secret that cultivating your personal brand has become more important than ever, but why? What has changed in the last decade to make this such a necessity? I’m glad you asked. In our current climate consumers want to buy from people they trust. Once upon a time, in a world without social media, it was much easier to hide what was happening behind closed doors. If Mr. Dove or Ms. Hershey was mistreating employees or acting like a diva in the office, it was highly unlikely the world would ever know about it. We lived in a world that required us to trust the representation of the brand, not the people behind it.
However, we’ve now come to know a world where that’s next to impossible. We are constantly hearing about scandals, poor treatment of employees and shady business practices, making us skeptical of every business we interact with. That being said, if the company is associated with a trustworthy person with a reputation built on integrity, honesty and passion for their cause, it’s much more likely consumers will get behind it. For example, Jessica Alba created The Honest Company because she wanted to create products that she felt were missing when it came to living an organic lifestyle. She’s told her story on multiple platforms, sharing her passion with the world and convincing consumers that she has their best interest at heart. Because of this, if consumers are forced to make a decision between Honest products and another organic (possibly even cheaper) line on amazon, majority will choose the product represented by a founder who cares.
Personal branding isn’t just important for companies. According to a 2018 CareerBuilder survey, 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process, and 43% of employers use social media to check on current employees. Which also means that the founder isn’t the only face when it comes to the reputation of the company. Now, employers want to ensure that the person they are hiring can not only do the job well, but can also represent the company in a positive way. Having the right skillset isn’t enough anymore.
When it comes to building your personal brand, it’s important to understand who you are, establish credibility and be consistent. Whether you are the face of your own company, an employee moving up the ranks or a freelancer trying to prove your value, establishing your personal brand and sharing it with the world will be a game changer. Although it may seem intimidating, I challenge you to alter your perspective. Your success is directly linked to who you are and the values you hold close to you. I can’t think of a more empowering way to grow your business.