Personal vs. business branding
James Chartrand of Copyblogger fame wrote at the end of last week about the risk of personal branding becoming a prison from which the business owner is helpless to escape. He advises branding your business, but keeping that separate from personal reputation. Thusly, he states, “You create options for yourself, not obligations.”
He makes an excellent point, that pertains to business of any size. By crediting the business, rather than a person, with the character of your brand, you are ensuring its longevity beyond your personal involvement.
This is particularly important when it comes to using creativity in your business. The application of creative principles should be institutionalized and not dependent on the spirit of an individual. If you intend to use creative problem solving and orient towards innovation, carefully build these from the ground up with your company, ensuring that every participant is in the loop. When breakthroughs occur, the company – not you – receives the credit.
What about the solopreneur? The solopreneur by definition does not seek for the business to survive past the owner’s personal involvement. With the solopreneur, we must take an entirely different perspective: that of life and work being one and the same. Such a business person ‘makes a living’ by ‘having a life’. That’s rather enviable, isn’t it? Personal branding for such an individual equals business branding.
For the vast majority, business reputation is most beneficial if kept separate from personal reputation. I suspect, however, as our economy morphs, many more of us will define our work in the sense of solopreneurship, not expecting eternal life for our enterprises and therefore freely associating our personal values with that of the work we do.