Should I build a personal brand for my business? Or should I build a business brand? These questions might have you tossing and turning at night.
In this article, we’re going to step back, take a deep breath, and look objectively at both options so you can chose the best brand type for the business you’re building.
Let’s start with basic definitions …
What is a personal brand?
A personal brand is built around you — your personality, your lifestyle, and your interests.
It usually means you brand your business with your name. There are positives and negatives to this, and we’ll review them in this post.
What is a business brand?
A business brand is built around an identity you create for your business.
It usually means you need to craft a name for your business that’s independent of your personal name. Again, there are pros and cons, and we’ll cover each below.
Either way, you’ll want to know your brand personality. Take my fast, free brand personality quiz.
When does creating a personal brand work well?
It’s easier than ever to build a personal brand, especially with the tools we have available to us online. Between personal websites and social media accounts, it may be easier to create a personal brand than a business brand.
But there are a few reasons you might want to avoid this, so read on.
Personal brand pros
Personal brands are flexible. Personal brands typically use the business owner’s name to brand the business, website, and offerings (whether they’re products or services). This means if your focus changes and you begin offering something different from what you offered to start, you can adapt your offerings without needing to change the name of your business.
Personal brands are ideal if you want to develop a speaking career. It’s hard work to associate your name with your area of expertise (see below), but once you’ve done the work, you’ll be seen as someone who others want to hear from.
Personal brands are perfect for “one-person industries.” If you’re an artist, author, professional speaker, or coach, a strong personal brand will boost your business and attract new, interested prospects.
Personal brand cons
Your company name won’t state what you do: you have to associate your personal name with what you offer. This can be done with a strong tagline that you use consistently in everything you do. You can also associate what you offer with your personal name by writing blog posts, doing interviews, creating social media posts, and booking speaking engagements around your area of expertise. You’ll need to do this until people associate your name with what you want to become known for.
It’s hard to sell a personally-branded business. I know, I know: when you’re just starting out, who’s thinking about selling? But if you suspect there’s even a remote possibility this may happen in the future, you should reconsider creating a personal brand, and build a business brand instead. Read on for more about this.
When is building a business brand the best solution?
Business brands take more upfront work to create, because rather than use the name you were born with, you need to create one from thin air.
This means crafting meaningful words, and it’s hard work. But it might just be worth the effort.
Business brand pros
Creating a business brand forces you to think through your plans for your business. When it’s time to come up with a business name, you will need to think about who your ideal customer is, what you’ll offer, and what your business will be known for. Going through this process will help you create a vision for where you want to take your business that goes way beyond your business name and tagline.
Business brands allow you to position your business from hello. There are no limits on the words you use, so find a few that express what your business offers. Complement them with a tagline that builds excitement. And watch as your ideal customer grasps what you offer as soon as they hear your business name.
Business brands are easier to sell. Most businesses have a life cycle. When you’re ready to sell your business — because your interests have changed; you want to relocate; you’re ready to retire — it will be easier to sell it to someone else if you’ve built something that’s not associated with a personal name. Let’s face it: if the business is named after a person and that person is no longer there, it’s not worth as much. But if you’ve developed a recognizable brand, that’s an asset people will pay for.
Business brand cons
It’s hard work to build a business brand. You have to create a brand name at a time when you may still be trying to decide what your business will offer, and who your ideal customer will be.
Business brands aren’t as flexible if your interests change. If you decide to change course and offer something completely different, you may need to start a second business if it doesn’t relate to your business name. You can usually come up with a name that describes the general field your products and services will fall into, and then you can get more specific with your tagline, which is easy to change. But if you change your field of interest completely, your name may not work anymore.
Is there a happy medium between a personal brand and a business brand?
I believe there is a happy medium, and it’s easier to pull off now than ever before.
We can build our business brand and — simultaneously — work to establish our personal authority around a topic.
How? You create a business brand and then reach out to other business owners to help you spread the word about what you offer.
You write guest posts, appear in interviews, speak, and personally spread the word about your business brand.
As you answer questions and convey information, your personal authority grows along with the awareness of your business brand.
If you can’t decide between a personal or business brand, this approach may be the most flexible of all!
It can help your business triumph online because it’s a perfect blend of authority, personality, and engagement.
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More branding resources from my website
There’s a LOT more where this came from! If you’re working on branding your business, explore these free resources:
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on October 9, 2019 and has been updated with the most recent guidance.