Personal v Company Brand
If you are in business, you need to be building both your personal and company brand. We started out focusing on creating company brands, but personal brand is a growing part of what we do.
It is important to treat your personal brand and your business brand as two separate entities, (even if your business name is the same as your own, e.g. Stella McCartney the personal brand and Stella McCartney the fashion house brand), especially if you are planning to exit.
But they also need to support each other. Here are our top tips on building an aligned personal and company brand.
Your personal brand centres around more than just styling and great headshots. This is about you as an individual, influencer, leader and figurehead of your company, how you show up in person, on or offline.
- Managing yourself, your PR and reputation, especially in times of crisis or complaint. (What you Do)
- Your professional (brand) personality, i.e. your public opinions, views and thoughts. (What you Say)
- Your image – styling, grooming, voice, presentation and body language. (What people See)
So it all comes back to my DoSaySee model for building a great brand.
Elon Musk, Richard Branson and Oprah Winfrey all have powerful personal brands. They are the public face of the companies they represent – and any coverage (good or bad) around the entrepreneur can affect the perception or value of the company.
Your personal brand is so intertwined with your company brand so you need to ensure your own values, beliefs and behaviours – and that of your staff – align with your company brand.
Communicate your value
Someone with a great, evolving, personal brand is Michelle Obama. She has garnered support and fans for what she has achieved, her values, views and the way she conducts herself. Michelle is bright, humane, engaging and real: consistent and honest. She speak outs on huge issues, yet she’s also funny and self-deprecating (watch her Carpool Karaoke cameo for a treat!).
She uses clothes to cleverly communicate her personal brand and status. When her husband was POTUS, Michelle patriotically championed US designers with chic, tailored and demure dresses befitting of her role as the President’s wife.
But on her 2018 book tour, she rocked up to the last night wearing $4,000 thigh-high silver-sequinned Balenciaga boots and their billowy, silky yellow dress, split daringly to the thigh, somewhat upstaging host Sarah Jessica Parker!
That high-fashion outfit was a clear sign to the world that she was fulfilling a different role and was enjoying the freedom and fun of not being First Lady any more.
First impressions count
Michelle knows how personal branding can position you and tell your story in seconds.
People decide if they’re going to do business with you within six seconds of meeting you. And online, a lot faster than that.
So the visual part of your personal brand needs to be, like any company brand, strong, distinctive and consistent.
No matter who you are or how long you’ve been in business, your appearance matter more than ever. Studies even show that women who wear ‘light’ makeup are more successful than those who wear none or ‘heavy’ makeup!
Getting your visual personal branding right can support your company brand message and allows your amazing knowledge and personality to shine through without prospects being distracted by what they see.
Increase your impact
Personal branding can help you grow your business, appeal to a new market or simply get you more visible.
I went for a restyle when I started to get more speaking roles. I’d seen myself presenting on video for the first time, wearing a chic COS black dress and I was shocked – my dress blended into the dark-clad crowd so all you could see was a ‘floating head’!
I realised why speakers wear colour and that I needed a ‘speaker wardrobe’ to help me stand out and create more impact on stage. I hired a stylist who confirmed that black is “a colour to hide in”.
After a colour consultation, she culled my wardrobe (I’m a Cool Winter so my beloved blacks survived…) and took me shopping. In came sharper fitted cuts in bright red, fuchsia pink, cobalt blue and emerald green – my speaker wardrobe.
For my pre-book-launch public appearances and talks, I started to wear red more – it is my brand colour and the colour of my book. I didn’t realise it had become an expectation, though, until a friend told me off for not wearing red at one talk! Since then, even online event organisers ask me to wear red if I’m speaking – even on Zoom!
I still wear black for meetings IRL. It ties in with my ‘designer style’ and it still is one of my company brand colours. I add a pop of red – my other brand colour – in a bag, coat, notepad or my book! Accessories are another way you can look on-brand if your brand colours are not ones you’d wear easily.
If you need an image overhaul or you’ve got stuck in a rut, I highly recommend using a personal stylist to help you look more polished and make that great first impression.
Whilst in lockdown we discovered online styling service StitchFix and they’ve been a great, Covid-safe way to update mine and my husband’s wardrobes for when we finally re-emerge blinking into the world again.
Many department stores offer free personal styling sessions, too: book in, give them your brief and the stylist will go hunt for you whilst you relax in a private room. They’ll probably find styles you would have never considered so keep an open mind.
And I do recommend a colour consultation – you’ll look even better, feel more confident and make fewer shopping mistakes. My husband hates shopping, so he sees his swatch book as a bit like brand guidelines – a massive time-saving tool!
Your business brand
Your brand is so much more than just a logo. A great brand experience is where your company vision and your customer’s vision align and make an emotional connection.
Branding is the visual aspect of your brand. But you need to go so much deeper than just logo, colours and typefaces. It should make your brand promise tangible and helps clearly communicate your company value.
You need to develop your brand values, brand personality and brand voice – what I call your Inner Brand – to make that emotional connection. How people feel about your brand is key to help your brand appeal to their heart as well as their head.
When people feel more deeply connected and aligned to your vision and company values, you start to generate loyal brand fans, repeat customers and passionate advocates for your company.
Once you know what your brand should feel like, the branding process becomes much easier as you can choose visuals to reflect the emotion you wish to communicate. The combination of these elements affect your audience on a conscious, subconscious, emotional and psychological level.
As you enter new markets and/or hire more staff great company branding helps your brand show up with consistency, even when you’re not there. Consistency builds familiarity, then brand recognition/recall and this is the precursor to know, like and trust.
A great brand and personal brand of course will help any company and business owner project enhanced professionalism.
And there is a real return on consistent application of your brand to your business. A 2019 Lucidpress report, surveying 200 businesses found that the power of consistent branding can be a 33% increase on the bottom line (up from 23% in 2016).
Get in touch to find out how we can help you get brand clarity, stand out and supercharge your business growth.
Let’s Get Visible!, Sapna Pieroux’s award-winning book on how to build your brand is available to buy here. Her simple six-step VISION Process helps entrepreneurs build powerful ‘Brands that mean Business’.