Branding Yourself Versus Branding Your Company
Branding yourself is a much talked about subject online. So is branding a business. Now, trying to learn about either of those things is fraught with danger. The reason for this; people talk about “branding” as though it’s a single process that is done the same whether you’re talking about individual branding or company branding.
In reality, branding yourself and branding your company are two different things and have to be approached differently.
A lot of great advice comes from both sides. You have people who’ve mastered self-branding (I’m not among them) and people who brand as a company.
However, you can’t just apply the advice from an individual to a business and vice versa. So here are my thoughts on the two, with the aim of helping you avoid creating a company marketing campaign that kids mock relentlessly for years to come.
On Branding Yourself
I’ve written before about the whole “You are your brand,” meme that floats around in online business circles. I think it’s really stupid to treat yourself like a commodity and try and compartmentalise your life. It’ll lead to some weird hedonic treadmill where you mess up your personality because you treat your quirks as analytics.
Before you know it, you’ll be some Instagram model psychologically and you’ll stroke random stray cats “for the likes.”
Oh, and it’s just bad business unless you’re in the guru business, which I don’t recommend.
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That said, there are a lot of social platforms where some form of branding yourself is required. These platforms can be useful:
- Medium (I think)
On these platforms, you don’t really have a choice about whether you’re branding yourself versus branding a business. You have to have a personal account.
Now, some of you will say, “but you can make a fake…” and I’ll stop you there. The tide’s swimming in one direction only on that front.
So how do you behave on these platforms where you’re branding yourself? Two key things:
- Act like a professional
- Be a human being
There are a ton of people who are self-styled “online branding yourself gurus” who fail at both of these things.
They’ll say, “you are your own brand” and then they’ll go and get banned from social media platforms because they just can’t keep their mouth shut.
(Memo: Nobody cares about your politics anyway.)
To clarify: act like a professional means respond appropriately, don’t cause friction and softly push towards your desired funnel.
Be a human being means don’t seem like the dumb people on your Facebook who sell MLM. If you’re constantly selling, you aren’t acting like a normal human being.
That’s game over.
On Branding Your Business
I mentioned way above about companies who brand as though they’re people. It’s stupid. Nobody thinks “Hey, this web design company used a Pepe the frog meme, better tell my rich uncle how his building firm should hire them!”
I could rant about the subject, but I won’t. That sort of thing is a novelty and might get (useless) social shares, but it doesn’t work for gaining any business.
If you’re running a company page, then you should treat it like you would any other exposure generating property for your funnels.
If you are a web designer and you have a personal Twitter account then feel free to act like a human being, talk about your local sports team and all that sort of human stuff.
On the other hand, if you have a business website and you’re using your blog to say “Go Local Sports Team!” and you’re not sponsoring them or something, you’re being stupid. Your business pages should push people to buying your stuff and not do anything else.
Branding your business isn’t an activity so much as it’s the natural result of doing a good job and letting your customer base build you a reputation.
More General Tips
If you are a one-man band or small business, then I recommend you do both of the above. Have a company account and a personal account for each platform and share in one direction:
Share your company stuff on your personal page.
Do not do it the other way around. I know people who’ve been put in charge of marketing multi-million pound companies who then turn perfectly good social media properties into their personal playgrounds. One started using an Instagram with 20,000 targeted followers to start sharing pictures of her lunch and stuff – acting like a teenage girl.
That tragedy of “branding” a business will cost that company many thousands of pounds.
The reason it only goes one way is that people who are interested in you will probably be interested in your work but it’s far less likely that people interested in your work will be interested in you outside of that.
Most properties have the option to have a byline where you can link to personal accounts and that’s literally all you need to do. In the rare case someone becomes your mega-fan through your company’s Twitter page, they’ll find you. For instance, if you write for a blog, then your Author box can have a link to your Twitter or Instagram or whatever. If people really like you, that’s all they’ll need. Don’t be some weird guy who turns an article about cyber-security into an excuse to show pictures of his beach holiday snaps or whatever.
I hope this has made sense. In short;
- Personal stuff online = human but still professional.
- Business stuff online = Totally professional, focused on funnels and conversions
- If you’re going to link the two, be a) contextual and b) share business with personal, not other way around
The major mistakes you need to avoid:
- With personal stuff, the danger is coming across as some weird entrepreneur-self-help constant-business person
- With business stuff, it’s coming across as professionally uncalibrated
Writing this out makes it seem really logical and pedantic, but it’s mostly a case of common sense.