Your Personal Brand VS Your Business Brand
Post Written By:
Shana / blogs at mind-your-manners.net for Stay-At-Home Moms who long for a money-making venture of their own creation that fits into their crazy, ever-changing family lives. She writes about planning and starting businesses that will grow for them AND with them, with the same adaptability as the super-moms that owns them.
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Everyone has a personal brand, whether they know it or not. Your personal brand is what you put out into the world - your values, your style, your personality. It's what you're known for as a person. If your coworkers get upset because you don't work as hard as they do...sorry, that's part of your personal brand. If it's important to you to have a spic-and-span house for visitors, then congrats, being a good housekeeper is part of your personal brand.
If you're a business owner, then you get yelled at from all directions of the internet about how you need to establish a brand for your BUSINESS, too. I'm not talking about designing a logo, people. Push your visuals to the backburner for a moment. I'm talking about what your business stands for. Why it exists, what values it focuses on, the specific GOOD that it puts out into the world. Every move you make in your business gives your potential clients information about what's important to your business.
If you are a solopreneur or a freelancer, chances are, you are the face of your business. You post as your business/you, you tweet as your business/you, you comment on others' posts as your business/you, you "selfiegram" as your business/you. It's really easy to see how closely tied your personal brand and your business brand can get, but as a business owner, you need to make sure to lay some ground rules for yourself to create a little distinction.
Here are just a few of the areas you should think about when deciding what to share and what not to share as your business entity:
Where your Personal and Business Brands should merge...
Values and Goals
Your business is a product of you, so it makes sense that its values and goals are something you share. I recently listened to a BeingBoss podcast interview with the founder of Acuity Scheduling, and he said he started the company basically to make his mom's business run smoother. Similarly, I'm sure most of us have really personal reasons why our business exists and why it targets a certain market, and why it affiliates itself with specific products, companies, charities, et cetera. Core values are definitely a place where our personal brand and business brand will coincide naturally.
General Personality and Voice
If you're a bubbly person, be bubbly on your blog. If you're a super serious intellectual and humour isn't your strong suit, having your business's "personality" be funny isn't going to be easy for you, and will fall flat. Be "you"... you know, the surface you on a good day that the person checking out your groceries gets to see.
Steer away from showing your clients or audience your worst side, however. It’s not inauthentic, it’s just good business practice.
Where your Personal and Business Brands should separate...
Your personal brand encompasses all of who you are: business owner, parent, spouse, likes and dislikes, opinions, religious viewpoints, political leanings, temperament, physical ailments, mental illnesses - check all that apply. As a business, it may not be beneficial to hold all the same positions as vocally as you may as a person.
Seriously consider the business ramifications of emotional posting before you do it. We all have bad days, we all have rage moments, but posting an article about how unsupportive your boyfriend is about your business and how you may or may not dump him? Not the best business move. You know that app on your phone that keeps you from drunk texting? Apply that same logic to posting about emotional issues on your business's blog or twitter. I'm not saying that you should keep important emotional things from your audience. I'm saying let yourself process the situation and then when you're passed it, decide with a level head whether or not talking about it with your audience will benefit anyone.
Personal stories and photos, especially ones that involve other people in your personal life, should be shared only with care and PERMISSION. If you want to share about your children who are too young to give consent, PLEASE take into account that they will be vulnerable, hormonal pre-teens in the near future who might be mortified by things you shared about their cute naked toddler selves. If you decide to share super personal stories, it should be in a way that boosts your business’s brand and has a clear benefit to your audience.
Incendiary Political or Religious views
If you're in a field where your personal political or religious views are relevant, then by all means, ignore this section. But there are plenty of us out here that are building our business in a market that doesn't care whether you're a republican or democrat or atheist or Catholic or Buddist, and we need to be intentional about the way we separate our views from the views of our business. Your role as a business owner is to generate a profit, and turning away a chance at a paycheck because of a difference of opinion is not a good idea. Another reason to avoid spouting off too many opinions in these areas: you may have employees, either now or in the future. The more specific opinions your business holds due to what you put into your social media content or on your blog, the harder it will be to find employees that hold those same opinions, and employees that don't portray themselves in a way that upholds your values as a business will dilute your brand.
This is not to say your business can't be involved in causes you feel are important, there are just more professional and beneficial ways to do it than through posting about all the news articles that you disagree with on your blog or twitter. A few ways include pro bono work for organizations you support, offering products and services that give a portion of their earnings to specific charities, and collaborating on projects with nonprofit organizations. If you want to share all of your opinions on everything with the world, your best bet is to set up another platform to do it on, because your business is NOT a person, it's a business. It doesn't need to have an opinion on everything.
These are just a view suggestions for the average blogger or business owner; there will obviously be instances where the above is terrible advice (If you're a Christian Marriage Counselor, it would be a bad idea to never talk about religion. Same goes for a political journalist). These were just some examples to show you that you need to use wisdom about what you share as your business, because it could seriously hurt your business if you don't. Being strategic in the content you share as your business is just as important, if not MORE important, than any other growth strategy you create for your business.