In this confusing digital landscape it can be hard to separate who you are and who is your brand . . . So let's define the two, identify the benefits of building both and the dangers of building your brand as your personal brand.
First off - Some definitions:
These are your pieces of personal thought leadership where you can highlight your expertise, values and what makes you unique. You can be bold, confronting, form and change ideas to represent yourself as the authority in your industry.
People interact with brands that they can connect with, form a relationship and trust. This can be reinforced through your business's mission statement, values and beliefs which are reflected in how the business is visually communicated.
Basically, what does your brand stand for and how do you show it?
Benefit to Building them Together
A great example of building a brand and personality together is Virgin and the illustrious Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson. Through his entire business he career he has set the tone of his brands. From his committed work ethic, to his customer centric focus, to his playboy image.
But with or without him in the marketing material, he has created such a strong foundation of consistent values within his brands. This has built a high level of trust and a followship of customers who advocate for the brand time and time again.
He creates a playful and approachable image where the budget conscious feel that it is obtainable and wealthy feel they still receive the level of esteem they are accustomed to.
This ad provides a representation of that mix. Elegant James Bond styling combined with the cheeky ending allows it to feel sophisticated, yet approachable. This would probably be a good way to sum up Richard Branson also.
This can also be seem in the simplicity of the late Steve jobs and his simple minimalist style and how that translated into the products within Apple.
They live and breath it - this is what makes their brands so strong.
Everything you do can effect your brand - scandals, politics, conflicts on the board to share drops. Your life can become part of the ups and downs of the business.
One good example was the hand on throat scandal from Charles Saatchi of Saatchi & Saatchi. It quickly fell out of the news, but i f it had blown up further, it's hard to build a brand with your name in it when it is associated with abuse to women.
This is where you have to be careful that as you build a brand:
Are you holistically aligned with the values that society expects?
Are you ready for the scrutiny of the public?
Will the brand stand without you?
Is it better to build the brand to stand on its own?
How to Maintain Your Brand and Your Individuality
Two things you can do to maintain your brand without and your individuality is by making sure you have more than one figure head that can represent your business. Create a strong team of influences and let them all become part of the brand personality.
Another way to ensure you don't tie too close to your brand is to choose a name other then your own. It may end up bigger then you. What happens if you choose to sell?