You most likely belong to either one of these categories:
- You want your face and identity to be associated with your brand (or at least are comfortable with it)
- You don't want to be associated with your brand and prefer to remain behind the scenes.
I belong to the second category. I'm the type that sets every social media profile to 'private', and naturally that extends to how I behave in my own business.
It's important that you decide how you want to present your brand in the first few years. If you belong in the first category, then personal branding might be the route for you. If you're in the second category like me, it's likely that you will go for business branding. In fact, that's what I'm using for Narrativity Consultants.
No type of branding is better than the other. Both has its own pros and cons. What you choose is entirely up to you, your circumstances, and personal preferences.
As for the work involved, all principles on branding that we've discussed so far apply to both types. Branding is still branding, regardless of the face of the brand.
Today we'll just look briefly at both types as well as their pros and cons.
Nowadays, you don't need to be featured in talk shows or magazines to have a large following. Personal branding is within anybody's reach, as long as they're committed to building that large following.
It requires you to consistently share details of your life. Everything you do online (where people can see) becomes part of your personal branding. When you share something, you use the pronoun 'I'.
And it's crucial that you are comfortable in front of the camera. You have to be the subject matter of the photos, because that is what (or who) people connect best to.
- Once you have a large, loyal following, your products will almost always sell well because you've gained their trust.
- It has a quicker start compared to business branding because people instinctively connect to other people better.
- The work involved to keep up the branding fits more naturally in your day because it's about you.
- Any attacks from ill-wishers will be personal and malicious.
- You can only start selling products based on personal branding after you have a substantial following.
- The pressure to keep up appearances or be 'perfect' online can be overwhelming.
This type of branding requires you to establish a whole separate entity, complete with a new look and personality. You transact using the name of the business, rather than your own. You're using the pronoun 'we'.
Because no person is associated with the brand, you'll be relying on the visual identity, e.g. logo and illustrations, more heavily to get noticed. It's important that the visual identity is developed well from the very beginning because it can't be changed that easily.
- You'll be able to start selling products early because it's expected for businesses to have products.
- It's easier to scale the business because you can delegate tasks to other people.
- When something goes wrong, people will be less inclined to blame you personally.
- You have to work harder to gain customers' trust because it takes more for them to trust a 'faceless' personality.
- The work involved requires more intention and planning compared to personal branding.
- How well your product sells depends on how accurate your market research is, unlike personal branding which has its own market it could tap into.
Whatever type you choose to start with, you will NOT be stuck with it for life. A lot of people begin with personal branding, but the business brands they build end up being equally as good a few years down the road. Other people begin with business branding, but consequently become well-known personally after much success.
The purpose of choosing in the first place is to consolidate your resources into one thing, so that you can do it very well. The key to success is focus, not multitasking.
That doesn't mean you have to stick to one type of branding, through thick and thin. We can take steps to minimize or neutralize the cons for both personal and business branding, no matter which one you choose. That's why I said that no type is better than the other.
We'll discuss those steps in the next email. Keep an eye out for it!