Personal Branding Vs. Branding A Small Business

Branding Iron
The moment you decided on a name for your business, you started creating a brand for your company. Your brand — no matter what product of service your company offers — is crucial to your marketing. Every transaction your business makes affects your brand: if you provide good customer service, you’re building your brand just as much as if you take out an ad or give a speech. But there’s another kind of brand that you may be building, whether or not you’re aware of it. Just as people associate a brand with your business, they may also associate a brand with you.

Your Personal Brand

It’s not uncommon for a small business owner to do business under his or her own name. John Doe’s business, for instance, might be Doe Consulting. That approach guarantees an intertwined brand, and makes associating yourself with your industry relatively easy. Anything you can do to associate your name with your industry, from writing a blog to just chatting with friends about the topic, adds a little to your personal brand, bringing your company along for the ride. If you’re willing to put some work into crafting your personal brand, you can make yourself the go-to-guy or gal in a particular niche — and, as long as your business operates in that niche, you can build it up by association.

But is tying your personal brand to your company all that it’s cracked up to be? If you attach your name and your personal brand to your small business, you can create a brand relatively quickly — but it’s easy to wind up with your personal brand entangled with your business brand. While it may seem that you’re comfortable with that arrangement now, there may come a day when your business’ brand needs to stand on its own. Even something as simple as launching a new product can be complicated if both you and your business are known for a narrow niche.

Your Business’s Brand

On the surface, branding your business separately from yourself may seem more complicated. After all, you’re managing two brands at once. But the fact of the matter is that you can develop very different brands for both yourself and your company at the same time. That’s at least partly due to the variety of branding methods available to you. Some, like sending out a company newsletter, are more useful for creating a business identity. Others, like public speaking, lend themselves more towards building a personal brand.

On top of more traditional branding techniques, the web has created many opportunities: websites, social networking, blogging and more. And you aren’t limited to just one website or one account on a social network. If you need to set up online brands for more than just your business or yourself, you can do so.

Personal Brands and Business Brands

When it comes to developing your brand, you get to make the choice on how closely you want to connect your business brand to your personal brand. But whichever route you choose, it is important to build a solid brand for your business. The elements of your brand are crucial to the ways your existing customers recommend you and your future clients find you. As people become more and more reliant on the internet when searching for even the most local of services, like pizza or a plumber, your brand may become the only way they can find you.

Reader Comments

Nov. 10. 2009 6:35 PM
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I enjoyed your article and I found interesting the idea of combining the personal brand with the business brand. I always identified my personal brand with that of my company but your article definitely makes a curious distinction between the two.

Maybe it’s a matter of accumulating experience and personal growth when the two brands should not only stand on their own but also harmoniously intertwine; in other words - finding your own voice while promoting that of your business. It would be interesting to explore which comes first.


Nov. 17. 2009 9:05 PM
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I usually tell clients that the safest approach is to separate the personal brand from the business brand.

However, in the case of very limited resources, it might be advisable to combine both into one, so that promoting oneself also helps promote the business brand and vice-versa.


Dec. 3. 2009 12:03 AM
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If you’re planning on expanding into a larger company someday, a business brand is always the way to go. If however, like me, you’ve already decided to stay a 1-2 person business now and in the future, a personal brand is gives a better impression IMO.


Jun. 2. 2011 8:42 AM
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I’ve opted for a personal brand because of the type of business I want to create. However, I think many small businesses could make more use of the small business owner in their branding because, inevitably, the personality of the business is often a reflection of their characteristics anyway. It’s an advantage few big businesses get right - apart from the likes of Apple and Virgin.


Oct. 3. 2011 9:38 PM
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I agree that company branding is the way to go for a business expansion.  The problem of expansion for small businesses is scalability.  As great as a founder is, it is impossible to replicate her/him.  Corporate brand effectively allows scaling the reputation of the founder to other employees.  Also branding allows for organization discipline as it is representative not only of company’s marketing efforts but also of business strategy and mission.


Oct. 25. 2011 12:02 AM
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I’m not really a fan of intertwining personal brands with business brands.  I always felt it is good to separate the two.


Oct. 27. 2011 2:27 PM
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When you integrate yourself with your business, I believe it makes you look like a man (or woman) of the people rather than just hiding behind a corporate logo.


Nov. 5. 2011 9:25 PM
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Great post and so integral to modern branding decisions! As you mentioned, social media gives us a swag of new branding tools but their ease of use also makes it easy for business owners to skip any kind of branding analysis. The result is a business brand that doesn’t have any clear values that customers can relate to and remember.

I love social media but it certainly blurs the lines between the business brand and the personal brand behind it!


Feb. 1. 2012 6:45 PM
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As a small business owner, you are often the business and therefore the brand. Sometimes you are so strongly associated with the company, even as a large company, you are the brand, i.e. Steve Jobs, Bill Gates


Mar. 9. 2012 7:47 PM
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Good post! “…the web has created many opportunities: websites, social networking,blogging and more.” We recently built a new website with a blog, but social media is something we need to get onboard with! We’ve been hearing how good social networking is for small companies in particular, to help with brand development, and your post seems to confirm this. Any tips for which social media channels are the best for branding purposes?


May. 7. 2012 8:58 AM
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The best way to get famous is to align you to famous or better known brands. But I agree that the safest approach is to separate the personal brand from the business brand. Yet a combination of both could be of a good try. Visit our site at Dirigocreative.com or like us on Facebook Dirigocreative


May. 10. 2012 4:45 PM
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But is tying your personal brand to your company all that it’s cracked up to be? If you attach your name and your personal brand to your small business, you can create a brand relatively quickly — but it’s easy to wind up with your personal brand entangled with your business brand. While it may seem that you’re comfortable with that arrangement now, there may come a day when your business’ brand needs to stand on its own. Even something as simple as launching a new product can be complicated if both you and your business are known for a narrow niche.


Jul. 21. 2012 10:00 PM
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I think that a personal brand give you a more personal touch, people tend to relate better with another person that to a big company.


Oct. 3. 2012 9:50 AM
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Interesting article / discussion - we have combined the first letters of the founders surnames to create our UK business brand (fortunately a good outcome - the brand is “What”) which creates a great brand but also an element of personal brand with a good back story


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Is it important to differentiate the two though? I don’t think it has that much impact on the brand whatever your personal brand is.
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Personal brands are quite easy to sustain but for company brands, it is always a team effort. This will help sustain the services or products of a particular company and a PR team should be on the lookout to catch the company in case of loopholes.


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