Personal Brand vs. Company Brand: What to Keep in Mind

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When it comes to personal brand vs. company brand, is there a distinction between the two? The short answer? Yes, and sometimes no. 

Brand building is one of the most overused and frequently talked about concepts in marketing. And yet, not everyone can pinpoint exactly what it means, especially when you look at it from the two different lenses. 

It’s no wonder so many people struggle with how to brand their organization, and why you may be experiencing the same challenge…

Differences Between Building a Personal Brand vs. Company Brand 

A common misconception is that the branding process is the same no matter what, but it’s that very belief that could be hurting your marketing efforts. 

A recent Forbes article pointed out that “branding will result in increased profits when done right.” But the key there is “done right.” It’s important that your messaging and aesthetics are aligned so that they maximize the impact of your brand for your bottom line.

However, a brand consists of much more than just a logo or a name. In fact, a true brand is the intangible assets of a business. It’s not something that can just be designed in a program; it must be built

You can tap into the power of storytelling to nurture a strong emotional connection with your brand. We’ve talked more about this concept in our article about building a brand story, which is another way you can improve your branding efforts. 

That said, you need to first identify personal brand vs. company brand to foster trust and credibility. So, let’s dig into that…

1) Personal Brands Are for One-Person Industries

A personal brand is built around you as a person. It reflects your personality, interests, and lifestyle. It’s what people think of when they talk about you. 

If you are an entrepreneur or have a business that is linked to a service you offer, your brand is highly linked to your name. This is the main distinction of personal brand vs. company brand. 

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In this instance, you are the living and breathing embodiment of your brand. Hence, this type of brand is suited for one-person industries. Some examples include… 

Having a strong personal brand will boost your standing in the community you market to. It makes it easy for people to associate your name with the services you offer. Using your personal brand for this type of industry or nature of business increases your brand salience, especially if you provide a one-on-one service (such as coaching). 

On the flip side, using a company brand for this type of business will make it slightly more difficult to establish a connection with potential clients. Your prospects will find it a little harder to associate with you and to be able to feel like they know and trust you. 

2) Company Brands Lack the Flexibility of Personal Brands

Aside from the advantage of personal brand vs. company brand for one-person industries, these two types also differ in terms of flexibility in how they are used.

Again, personal branding gets the upper hand here because you have more flexibility with how you use your personal brand.

Take this, for example: You can use your name on your website or promotional materials. If you decide to change the type of products or services you offer, your personal brand name remains intact, which is a huge benefit.

Whether it is the need to adapt to the competition or you simply want to venture out into another type of business, you can maintain your personal brand even if the nature of your business has changed. It gives you more leeway to experiment with your products or services. 

Unfortunately, a company brand is not as flexible in this regard. When customers think about a given corporate brand, they usually associate it with a certain product or service. If you wanted to change your offerings, you would have to rebrand, which involves a lot of work and skill to do it effectively. 

3) Company Brands Are Easier to Sell

It’s a fact: Most businesses have a life cycle. As soon as your business has reached the end of that life cycle, you might be interested in venturing into another type of business. 

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If you have built a strong company brand, there’s still value in that. Other investors might be interested in buying your brand. 

This is a very common practice in the world of business. The owners have changed, but the business brand name remains the same because the new owners want to capitalize on the work that was done to build that brand. 

You know when you’ve developed a strong brand because people are willing to pay for it. This is one of the main differentiators of personal brand vs. company brand. 

Why Entrepreneurs Often Overlap the Two

Man with coat open showing t-shirt that says you are your own brand as concept of personal brand vs. company brand.

As a business owner, you have invested your time and effort into building your company. In most cases, that business was born out of your passion and interest. Plus, for some entrepreneurs, their business reflects their values and culture. It is a part of who they are as an individual. 

This is the culprit behind the overlapping of the two types of brands. They are so closely weaved into each other that it’s only a matter of time until they blend as one.

A slight overlap is never a bad thing, and it is likely to happen eventually anyway. It’s what you do in the long run that mitigates the negative impact of combining these two branding approaches. 

But how dangerous is it if you don’t set a distinction on personal brand vs. company brand? Let’s find out!

The Dangers of Combining Personal and Company Brands

Creating a separation between a personal brand and a company brand is not only recommended, it’s necessary. 

Separation Is Essential

As we discussed, a personal brand is linked to the individual—the CEO or owner of the business. Meanwhile, the company brand represents the brand as a whole.

It’s important to draw that distinction because in each of these cases, the brand represents something different. The person is not the company and vice versa.

A personal brand only constitutes the individual behind it, whereas everyone who makes up a company has a responsibility to uphold the company brand. 

Without this distinction, your company will struggle with establishing brand salience. 

The CEO’s Personality Impacts Brand Perception

It is easy for certain personalities to detach from a company brand. However, this can be more challenging if the individual behind a company has a strong and loud personality.

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One example of this is Elon Musk. He is a very successful entrepreneur and innovator. He speaks his mind and often makes controversial statements. As a result, people are sometimes put off by his strong opinions. 

CEOs and owners who put themselves out there like Musk affect the perception of their company brand. This can sway people to support or boycott the brand, depending on whether they agree or disagree with the personality of the owner/CEO. 

The best way to combat this is to be mindful of prioritizing the company brand over the individual

What Happens If the CEO Leaves?

Another danger of not being able to differentiate personal brand vs. company brand is when there is a separation between the CEO and the company.

If the CEO decides to leave the company, it can lead to confusion as customers continue to associate him or her with the company brand. That means that any actions or opinions the previous CEO has could continue to affect the company positively or negatively. 

This scenario is a very slippery slope that you don’t want, especially if you’ve worked hard to build that brand. 

Final Thoughts

Once you understand personal brand vs. company brand, you have to decide which is the best approach for you. And make no mistake—if you want to establish a distinction in the market, you need to figure that out fast. We’ve already outlined the differences between the two, as well as the importance of choosing the right branding strategy. 

It’s up to you to pick a brand that will help you permeate a saturated market and make your brand shine through. If you’ve built the foundation of a strong brand, it can even outlive you. 

Get started on building your strong brand so that you can stand out! Discover more about how our business branding services can help you set your company apart from your competition. 

 


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Filed Under: Business Tips

About Lisa Thorstenson

Lisa began her sales, marketing, and category management career at Clairol, where she helped pioneer the company's analytical capabilities. She then spent more than six years at L'Oréal USA, during which time she launched and managed the Category Management Department across all categories and gained category captain positions across most major retail partners in all categories, leading to L'Oréal's rise to the #1 beauty brand position. Lisa then stepped into the OTC medicines arena when she joined Novartis, where she expanded her expertise into channel strategy and marketing across multiple categories. Following her time there, she joined Bristol Myers Squibb, where she was an integral part of the senior team responsible for the launch of their new “standalone” consumer medicines division. Following the sale of this division to P&G, Lisa joined The Yankee Candle Company to head up their business development initiative, where she opened new retail channels and significantly grew the business. In 2006, Lisa joined Sleep Innovations and brought her successful CPG approach and expertise to the foam bedding industry. She spent the next decade leading various initiatives throughout the organization, including channel marketing, marketing, creative, communications, and e-commerce.

Coming from a family of entrepreneurs, Lisa started her own consulting business in 2015, primarily focused on business development and marketing for companies with a desire to enter the consumer retail markets or diversify into new categories. She worked with a wide range of companies, from commercial building material suppliers to towel manufacturers. Lisa has extensive experience with retail trade classes, product commercialization, marketing, packaging, and market research.

In her free time, Lisa is dedicated to helping local charities enhance their efforts, whether it is a fundraising event at church or assisting the American Legion with event planning for their annual Memorial Day services. She is also on a personal mission to inform friends, neighbors, and local businesses of elder care abuse. This is a significant issue in all communities across the country.