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Personal Brands vs. Corporate Brands

Submitted by on November 2, 2009 – 8:57 pmNo Comment

Question: From a branding standpoint, what is the best practice when it comes to differentiating between an individual’s personal brand and their business’ brand? Where is the line between the two, particularly for small businesses? – Alora Chistiakoff

My Response: Employers have always expected certain individuals to bring their own personal “brand” to work – A newspaper columnist brings readers, a salesperson brings a rolodex, an executive brings credibility and a network of trusted talent and so on. So where is the line between the work you do on your own – say running a marketing blog, and the work that you do for a company – say running their marketing team.

Here is my advice For employees: I would say that it is in your best interest to build your own personal brand that follows you. This may be as simple as just a LinkedIn profile that allows you to keep a public, findable resume up to date – it may be answering questions and engaging with the LinkedIn audience – it could be blogging about your own expertise. Doing so will deliver value to your current employer or it may help you get hired by your next one.

Here is my advice for companies: Encourage your employees to build their own brands. Here is why: “Reputation” is substantial source of value for a company. And unlike intellectual property it can’t be patented and it can’t be “owned” in perpetuity. It’s earned through relationships. If you hire a marketing specialist – it is an asset if they have a record as a trusted blogger. If you hire a recruiter, it is an asset if they are a trusted personality on recruiting sites. I can’t really think of one area where bringing a strong personal brand to the table is not an asset. I do think you need to take some measures to protect yourself: (1) clear guidelines around the use of social media so that these rock star employees know what is expected of them and (2) clear measures of job performance so that you can feel comfortable that their attention to their personal brand isn’t coming at the expense of their job. If every employee is a rock star in your company, you should be so lucky.

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