Dear Founders, Stop Putting Your Company Brand First
Why business leaders need to focus on building their personal brand and authority if they want to attract their dream customers.
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If you want to truly stand out in the business world, you need to understand just how important your branding is. It is the #1 component to establishing a connection with your audience, differentiating yourself from competitors, and building loyalty with your customers.
Far too many startup founders focus on their company brand over their personal one. However, knowing how to leverage the power of both can be a catalyst for you to grow your business better, stronger, and faster.
First let’s understand the difference between both types of branding.
The first type of branding is company branding. This encompasses your company's identity, including its mission, values, personality, logo, colors, and messaging.
The second type of branding is personal branding, which is the intentional shaping of your public persona as an entrepreneur.
And here’s the thing.
Entrepreneurs, you’ve gotta stop putting your company brand first.
If you are serious about scaling your business, building your authority, and attracting both ideal customers and ideal investors take this seriously. You need to give more time, love, and effort to cultivating your personal brand.
Think about it this way.
Take a moment to compare your LinkedIn company page to your personal one. I’d make a confident guess that you have more personal followers.
Why is that?
Because people follow people, not brands.
When you nail messaging that resonates with your target audience within your personal brand, it fuels and supports your company brand.
How do you improve your personal branding, so your business can become what you know it can?
Let me share a few proven personal branding tips and concepts to get you started. (You can also download my free guide to personal branding by clicking here)
Personal Branding Builds Credibility
Business is competitive. No secret there.
As founders, we are constantly looking for new opportunities or working to grow our current projects. But because of the sheer number of talented entrepreneurs aiming for growth takes more than just having an online presence to get noticed.
Your audience needs to trust you.
And further, they need to know you.
Your audience wants a behind-the-scenes look at multiple facets of your personality, not just a single asset, i.e your corporate persona.
Showing only one aspect of your personality comes off as inauthentic and robotic; people don’t want robotic.
People want connection.
People want to feel seen.
People want transparency.
They want to get to know your personal values, your visions for the future, your powerful ideas, your well-honed skills, and how you can help them. That is how you build trust, by showing who you are and what you stand for.
Now, that might sound a lot like having an online presence. And it can be.
So what’s the difference between online presence and personal branding? Personal branding is the intentional creation of the public's perception of you.
A personal brand is not just about talking about yourself on an About Me web page; it’s also practicing authenticity in how you show up in real life. Creating synergy between who you are online and what you’re like if someone were to meet you face to face.
This might mean showing up as that intellectual or energetic person at networking events, giving speeches, and through other relationship-building tactics (more on this in a moment).
Personal branding is about staying true to your personality.
Your authenticity can help those around you form opinions about who you are and what you’re all about so they can have an informed opinion while building a relationship with you. Having a genuine understanding of what makes you unique allows someone to build a connection and trust with you. As you build this strong, genuine online and public presence you will build authority and credibility in your field of work.
Branding Sets You Apart From Others in Your Industry
The world is noisy. We are inundated with content and information and no matter how niche your industry is, you are undoubtedly surrounded by other founders doing similar work.
In fact, it’s incredibly rare for a business to provide a truly unique product or service. Typically, what sets a business apart from its competitors is its customer experience, which begins with its brand.
Your branding is the first interaction a customer has with your company and because personal brands have a far more extensive reach than company brands — especially startups — your perfect customer is more likely to interact with you before your business.
This is a stroke of luck because it’s far easier to have a differentiated personal brand.
Think about it. No one else on Earth has your unique blend of experience, background, personality, interests, and skills. No one.
Use that nuance to your advantage! Pull back the curtain and share stories of your journey to entrepreneurship, lessons learned, aha moments had, stories created, and insights gained.
Your ideal customer, investor, or employee will appreciate getting to know you and understanding why you do what you do, what shaped your outlook on the world, your passion for the problem you’re solving, and everything else about you.
Developing a personal brand creates opportunities for you to stand out and for people to connect. People don’t know the ways you are unique until you show them. Take the time to support your image, make new connections, and show people why you deserve their attention.
Personal Branding Grows Your Network
How are you growing your digital network? Are you still relying on connections from high school and college to beef up your numbers? Are you reaching out to other entrepreneurs and professionals in your field to see how you can help each other?
Of course, social media isn’t the only way to network, but it is a large part of relationship-building in today’s digital era. Far too often people assume that personal branding is about gaining notoriety, followers, and maybe going viral.
But the real point is building relationships with the kinds of people that can transform your business and life.
I like to think of leveraging your personal social media accounts to build relationships — at scale. When you share yourself vulnerably and authentically, it allows people online to feel like they know you — even if you’ve never met.
But you can use this familiar feeling to reach out and build real, meaningful relationships. Truly some of my closest and dearest friends — and most powerful strategic partners — came from my social media engagement.
The point isn’t just to shout into the ether and hope people like your content. It’s to connect and engage.
For example, you can create a calendar event that reminds you to engage with other people’s content for 15 minutes every day. Send DMs to people whose bios or comments interest you. Strike up a conversation and see where it goes.
People want to hear what’s on your mind. Once people get to know you and not just your company, they will recognize your authenticity, credibility, and will want to connect with you.
Reminder: You Aren’t Your Company
As an entrepreneur, you likely aren’t going to be with the same company for the rest of your life. Entrepreneurs are idea machines. They take an idea, run with it, pass the baton, and start something new. Rinse and repeat.
As you invest in your many ideas, people need a way to associate you with all of your successes, and that takes more than just slapping the name of your former company on your LinkedIn page.
Founders like you are unique beings whose accomplishments deserve to be recognized as individual merits. Entrepreneurs also want to learn from and follow along with other entrepreneurs' journeys. Keep an online record of that journey. You’ll look back on it down the road and others will connect with it.
Start thinking about the reputation you want to build for yourself and how you can set yourself apart from others in your field to give your company the boost it needs to become out of this world. For more clarity and guidance, download our free guide, The 5 Easy Steps of Personal Branding.