When you are doing business online, it’s quite difficult to decide whether to brand yourself or to have a corporate brand.
The single line answer I would give you is – “Both are important, it’s all about leveraging the right thing at the right time”.
I don’t have a one-size-fits-all answer for this as everyone and their goals are different.
Let me present you some arguments, to unwind you from this dilemma.
Personal branding gained its popularity because it’s based on the notion – ““People buy people, not products,”
Marketing is all about trust.
People buy from someone whom they trust and connect with at an emotional level. It’s all hardwired in their brain from an evolutionary standpoint.
In the online world, personal branding is by far the most effective way to build rapport and trust with your audience – especially with the rise in video and visual marketing.
If you are a trainer, coach, consultant, freelancer or an agency owner, personal branding is very crucial for you. Because in these businesses, people need to know who you are and what value you can deliver them before throwing money at you.
You can’t simply expect people to open up their wallets by seeing your new flashy logo.
Personal branding is crucial if your ongoing client value-delivery is directly/closely dependant on you as a person.
Personal branding may not suit you if you are an introvert with little/no people skills.
Because your success here depends upon how well you communicate online with your audience.
It also requires you to be transparent and authentic. You also need to be a strong fellow and not take those keyboard warriors and troll-makers personally. If you are ultra-paranoid about this, you may give it a second thought.
However, with personal branding, the business becomes so empty without you.
That’s where company branding comes into play.
You see Apple as a brand, continued to grow even after Steve Jobs passed away.
Added to that, like that of a company brand, you can’t sell off your personal brand in the future!
So, eventually, you may need to start a company leveraging your personal brand.
I recommend people to build a company brand after having a good personal brand. Because, when you have a solid personal brand, you can easily attract right team members, partners, and investors to your company.
Without a good personal brand, people find it hard to trust and buy into you especially if you don’t have a prior business experience.
On the contrary, if you are into SaaS business model, you need to focus on building a company brand. Because, in SaaS business models it’s not uncommon to see the companies being acquired.
In this case, if you have your personal brand closely attached to your product, it may be harder to sell your business at a higher multiple.
Flipping SaaS businesses has become one of the hottest trends in the tech space. This may partly explain the reason, why you most likely don’t remember the names of the people behind successful SaaS products like Trello, Slack, Zapier, etc.
However, still personal branding boosts the effectiveness of your company brand – as it attaches a human emotion to it.
On the other hand, if we talk about agencies, there are 7-8 figure agencies successfully run by people, by just being operators – with zero personal branding.
With company branding, it’s harder to pivot or rebrand. It’s harder to change your field of interest. You’ll be stuck with it.
While under a personal brand you hardly need to rebrand yourself. As a person, you can be open to any number of opportunities.
If you are in training, freelancing, and agency models under only a company brand, you’ll be missing out on the huge advantages that personal branding offers when it comes to client attraction.
If you are a creator, trainer, or consultant, I would recommend you go with personal branding in the beginning. You can eventually think of going with a business brand.
Once you have a solid personal brand, it’s ridiculously easy to build company brand(s) – with some managerial skills.
On the other hand, if you are in a business where the ongoing value-delivery is not people-centric (for example a SaaS business); you can skip personal branding.
If it’s not clear to you as of now, find an interest and start building your personal brand today.
Down the lane, you need to position your personal brand and company’s brand in such a way that they feed each other.
If your company goes bankrupt tomorrow, you don’t have to start all way from scratch if you have personal branding – and vice versa.