Branding is important for entrepreneurs, both before the launch of the business and afterwards. Your business brand is what differentiates you from your competitors and what makes you appealing to your customers. Branding is how you build awareness of your business and promote it. But many small business owners don’t recognize that personal branding is part of building a business brand, and that there is a difference between a personal brand and a business brand.
All Branding Is Personal
Small business owners have an easier time building a brand than big corporations do. That’s because people connect with people more than they do a product or service or company. This is why corporations work so hard to “humanize” their brands, why they work to determine what will inspire personal connection with their overall brand or their product brand.
Customers use both emotion and logic when they decide to buy a product or service. It is not simply the quality or functional attributes of a product or service that matters, but how choosing and using that brand make someone feel about themselves. People connect with a brand that aligns with their own values and aspirations. They connect with the brand that represents who they are, what they admire, or what they would like to become.
Personal brand is the driving influence for consumers. The business brand is an extension of personal brand. It is Walt Disney’s family values and delight that infuse the Disney brand. It is Sir Richard Branson’s personality and reputation for being a maverick that makes Virgin products unique and compelling. It was Steve Jobs’ determination to “Think Different” that appealed to so many and engendered such loyal Apple customers.
Your Business Brand Is A Part Of You
As a small business owner, you have a much more direct effect on your customers than a CEO in a big corporation does. Your business is not something completely separate from who you are, what you value or how you behave. A successful small business is not just one that takes advantage of a passing fad or offers a cheaper product or promises faster service. A successful business builds upon its strengths and unique personality. Your strengths and personality are the backbone of your business.
But while your business brand is part of your personal brand: your personal brand is not just your business brand. An entrepreneur differs from someone that is simply self-employed because the entrepreneur is not limited or wholly defined by his or her business. Your personal brand is the potential of all that you might become: your business brand is just one step along your journey. Personal branding helps you to identify the ways you may later expand, scale and diversify your business or start other businesses.
Personal Branding Is Marketing
Authenticity is the cornerstone of a strong brand. It isn’t catchy slogans that your customers want, but a deeper and honest experience. What is unique and compelling about you will make your business unique and attractive. It is your expertise, your values, and even your personal quirks that matter and will appeal to your target market.
Personal branding will help you choose the business model and marketing strategy that is best suited for your business and your customers. It will help you determine what type of business is the right fit for you, what you should focus on and what you need help with, and what will get you your first foothold in the market.
Building your own reputation as an expert, demonstrating what you care about and stand for, managing your image and perceptions about you- this is how you give your business brand a foundation before you even launch a business. It is your story that gives your business its story. It is this personal connection that your customers want.So start your entrepreneurial journey by thinking about who you really are and how you are perceived. Consider what matters to you and how to make this evident to others. Align your personal values with your business practices. Figure out what it is about you and your business that will appeal to others. Find the alignment between what you have to offer and what your customers need and desire. Do your research to determine who your target market is, where they can be found, and what kinds of marketing messages they prefer. Personal branding is your best strategy.