Can branding be personal?

The notion of personal branding is becoming increasingly prevalent as ‘a thing’. Especially now that communications is being forced online and over video. But what does it mean? There are long standing, capable experts and specialists out there in personal branding. We wondered if we might be able to bring a different perspective to it from our own experience of branding both organisations and individuals who run their own businesses.

See what you think…

As we examined it became increasingly complex. So let’s start with the bit that made our heads hurt. Can personal branding only be applied to a business that is prepared to limit its growth to the capacity of that individual? Or can it be applied to a business where the personal brand is sufficiently transferable that its potential growth is unlimited?

Arguably in the case of Richard Branson and Elon Musk the latter is true. However the success they have effectively uses the proposition, values and behaviours that they stand for applied to an organisational entity or trademark: Virgin; and, Tesla and SpaceX respectively.

So what happens if that personal brand is also the trademark? For instance Jamie Oliver. OK there are elements of his operation that do use a trademark technique, and there are parts that have failed. Neverthless there is a large part of his success that is just ‘Jamie Oliver’.

Interestingly the numbers of those that stand behind a trademark come to mind quicker than those that use the name of the individual as the brand.

It would seem that on the whole using your name as the representation of your brand personality, it is more likely to be constraining if you have ambitious growth plans.

Then the more esoteric bit. Is personal brand about look, feel, presentation? Or is it about purpose, motivation and reason?

It can undoubtedly be both, and there is room for both – even in one individual. The likes of Richard Branson and Jamie Oliver certainly both have very distinctive ways of presenting themselves, alongside very distinctive styles of business leadership. Interestingly can you tell us the name of Steve Jobs’ successor? Can you conjure up his look? Can you describe his management style? It would seem we still have Steve Jobs ‘up there’ as the personality behind the brand.

However the point we are trying is are you, as us, conflicted between whether personal brand about look or feel – or whether it is about both?

From the examples we have shared personal branding would seem to be about both – or at least the success of it needs both.

We are obviously coming at this from our standpoint but our belief is that any brand should sprout from purpose, motivation and behaviour. That way those you transact with get what they are promised and credibility, loyalty, repeat transactions and recommendations flow.

To start by working on the look isn’t wrong. In fact we have successfully reversed the purpose, motivation and behaviour of a brand into a prevailing look – and to far greater success than had been experienced prior to that.

So what is our point? Well it is this – successful branding and more to the point personal branding is not simply or mainly about look. It is also about why you exist, how you deliver what transact with and what you transact.

Want to add to the debate? Email or phone 07787 557 197.

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