Make it your business to establish your Brand

Branding is an advertising and marketing strategy that requires self-discovery, effective and consistent messaging, and differentiating either yourself or business products/services from the competition. In this article, we will highlight the difference between personal branding and business branding and provides tips on both.
Brand Marketing
Brand Marketing

A personal brand involves the process of marketing yourself and your career. The process requires answering these questions:

  1. Who are you?
  2. Who do you want to be?
  3. How do others perceive you?
  4. What do you want to achieve?

Identifying your personal brand will add value to your life by helping you find focus and achieve your career goals.

A business brand could be a name, symbol, or design that differentiates your product or service from other products or services and your promise to prospective customers. Establishing a business brand requires asking important questions about your business. For example:

  1. What problem does your product or service solve?
  2. What kind of company do you want to have?
  3. What promise will you make to your end users?
  4. What is your company’s vision?

For both personal and business brands, you need to craft your brand’s story and develop consistent messaging across a variety of social media platforms to engage your target audience.

Key differences between Personal Branding and Business Branding

+ A personal brand markets yourself and your career as a brand. + A business brand markets a business product or service.
+ Developing a personal brand can provide career focus and help you get a job. + A business brand will attract customers, investors, employees, etc.
+ A personal brand does not require a mission statement or tagline. + A business brand requires a mantra. It’s the lean version of a mission statement that’s easy to remember. For example:
* Nike: “Authentic athletic performance;”
* Mary Kay: “Enriching women’s lives;” and
* eBay: “Democratize ecommerce
+ A personal brand will help you identify your colleagues, network, and potential employers. + A business brand will help you differentiate your products and services from the competition for your target customers.
+ A personal brand does not always require a dedicated Web site. + A business brand requires a business dedicated Web site.


Key similarities between Personal Branding and Business Branding

1. Both brands require the process of self-discovery – creating an identity that will serve you.
2. Crafting a story and developing consistent and efficient messaging are required of both brands. Effectively communicate your story to targeted customers regarding why they should choose you over the competition.
3. Both brands require strategic participation in social media platforms. Social media enables individuals and businesses to create awareness of their brand at a low cost. Plus, it humanizes a business.
4. Identifying your strengths and weaknesses and what makes you unique in relation to the competition are required of both brands.
5. Both brands will likely evolve over time—either as your personal vision changes or your business and knowledge of the industry changes.
6. Both brands require positioning — creating a perception about your brand to show others how you differ from the competition.


Tips for Establishing Your Personal Brand

  1. LinkedIn is a popular no-to-low-cost online marketing platform commonly used for developing your personal brand. Create a LinkedIn account and develop your profile to be close to 100 Include your education, work experience, volunteer experience, interests, etc.

Personal Branding_Linkedin_imageHere you can enhance your personal brand by asking colleagues or former clients to write recommendations for you, build your network, and attract potential employers. You can build your brand quickly by producing content about what you know to establish yourself as an expert. LinkedIn is also used extensively by job recruiters.

Create a story around your personal brand to use in social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, or on a blog. Make sure your story is consistent across all the platforms you choose. You don’t have to participate in all the social media platforms, just the ones that resonate with you. You will also need to tailor your messaging to the platform you choose.

  1. To define your personal brand, ask yourself these important questions: What can you do? Given your skill set, what problem(s) do other people have that you can help them with? Where do you stand in regard to your products and services? What will your work life look like if your personal brand is successful?
  2. Create an elevator speech to present yourself on a moment’s notice and make a lasting impression. This 60-second speech tells people who you are, what kind of problems you help solve, why you do it, and what makes you different.
  3. In creating your personal brand, focus on things you are passionate about and enjoy doing the most. Think of the old adage, “Make your work your play and your play your work.”
  4. Make a realistic plan. Follow it, iterate it, and be persistent until you achieve your career goals.


Tips for Establishing Your Business Brand

  1. Create a logo that communicates your brand and use it consistently in all promotional materials—in print, online, and on products.

    How to Strengthen Your Brand and Website Reputation
    How to Strengthen Your Brand and Website Reputation
  2. Create a memorable tagline that sets you apart from competitors. The tagline should address your brand promise to your customers. Make sure your messaging on your packaging, Web site, and tagline are unified. Here are a few examples:
    a. Nike’sJust Do It” –
    b. Target’sExpect More Pay Less,” and
    c. Amazon’sEarth’s Most Customer-centric Company.”
  1. Create a compelling story for your product or service. Make sure your story is consistent across all social media platforms and on your Web site. A business brand combines your company’s mission and your personal story.
  2. Create a business Web site, a necessary communication platform for your business brand.
    • Your Web site should have an attractive design, interesting content that will benefit customers, and convey a strong sense of professionalism. Minimize personal details on your Web site.
    • Select a customized Web site rather than using a template to show your target
      audience how you stand out among your competitors.
    • Make sure to tell your audience what makes your product or service unique, which will help your potential customers remember you and your business.
    • If you are selling products, establishing a business e-commerce Web site will benefit you in many ways.
    • Make sure your Web site is mobile friendly since the majority of people access the Internet through mobile devices. Otherwise, you could lose a fair number of prospective customers.
  1. Build social media Web pages for your business. Choose the most effective social media platforms to present your brand and engage your audience, e.g., Twitter, a LinkedIn company page, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. Select the platforms that will present your business in a positive way.
  2. Install plug-in(s) on your Web site that allow visitors to print, e-mail, or share content from your Web site via social media platforms.
  3. Create a brand strategy for your product or service. How will you communicate with your target audience? When, where, how often, and in what way?
  4. Tell your target audience how your product or services will be a good Return on Investment for them. Communicate the benefits of working with you and what it’s like to work with you.
  5. Collect e-mail addresses so you can communicate periodically with customers. Send updates and useful information that will remind them of your product or service to avoid the adage: “Out of sight, out of business.”
  6. Ask your satisfied customers to share their experience with your product or service via written testimonials or videos. Post them on your Web site to help build both a strong brand and trust among prospective customers.
  7. You can’t do too much market research. Find out the needs and habits of your potential customers. Picture yourself in their shoes and try to understand how they think so you can effectively communicate with them.
  8. Make sure your brand adds value to your product or service and your costs are in line with the value your clients perceive about your product or service.

In the past, only companies with large budgets could establish a strong brand, but nowadays it’s not always the case. Today, companies with large networks relative to their business size can build a strong brand. The increase in automated customer services, especially among large companies is frequently a source of frustration among customers. Consequently, customers today place a higher value on personalized service, and small businesses can excel in this way.

Along with personalized service, small businesses can strengthen their brand messages through social media marketing much quicker and at a significantly lower cost. A few examples are Uber, Snapchat, and Kickstarter. Positive word-of-mouth is also an excellent way to increase your brand awareness. But to maximize your chance of success in branding, you have to combine word-of-mouth with word-of-mouse. Leverage your Web site and social media network strategically to boost awareness of your brand, whether it’s a personal or a business brand. We hope you find this information helpful. If you do, please share it with others. Thanks!


Phong T. Nguyen

BA from St. Olaf College
MBA from University of St. Thomas
SEO from "the School of Hard Knocks."