I am often amazed at how very similar and yet also how different corporate branding can be from personal branding. At Media influence, the publicity arm of LuxuryReach Inc, (www.luxuryreach.com) our research recently pointed to a greatly increased need of C-Level executives to be branded equally as well as their companies in our social media driven marketplace. The pertinent issue is that the branding methodology between the two is often the same which can produce inferior results.
I was at a conference where a well known corporate branding expert was giving three rules that a company should ideally follow. I’d like to explore the stark contrast between corporate branding and personal branding in each of these examples to create greater success in the latter.
Corporate #1 Your brand should maintain an airtight level of cohesion with its identity. Your products thrive when their core values can be anticipated.
The difference: A personal brand’s greatest strength can often be its lack of cohesion. While we may like to know our products in and out, it’s often the mystery of the people behind them that make them such interesting individuals. Finding out that a quiet and intellectual CEO has a love of skydiving or punk rock music piques interest just as much as finding out that a rock star has a master degree in English Literature. It makes us more interested in following their persona to see what else can be discovered. While you may not want your Pepsi to one day taste like Lemonade, personal brand cohesion often works bests when there is little of it.
Corporate #2 A brand’s friendliness and perceived “Nice factor” creates more loyalty in most industries.
The difference: Personal branding is just that.Personal. We often see better results when an individual doesn’t put on a false friendly face, but puts on their own subjective face no matter what it is. Sometimes it’s edginess, sometimes it’s a bit of an ego, or an off-key sense of humor that creates a more recognizable personal brand, but whatever it is, it‘s better to embrace it. There are reasons why public personas that are often not “Friendly” go very far- Howard Stern, Bill o’ Reilly, Donald Trump, while personal feelings may differ on these individuals one thing is certain- they are incredibly well branded and “Nice factor” plays little role.
Corporate#3 Solid brands know their audience and reach them through a multitude of channels.
The difference: Brands often have the strength of numerous individuals who can play diverse roles in creating messages across differing forums and platforms. This isn’t always the case with individuals. We’ve seen numbers of clients who in seeking personal publicity try to be Jacks of all trades- media superstars who can pen an essay, deliver a comedic you tube video, and then address a crowd of college professors. Some can pull it off; others dilute the strength of their core message and spread themselves too thin. Finding channel strength, focusing on it and working within one channel often is a smarter strategy. The first step of a personal brand is to know your strengths. An individual may create a massive following through their writing and lose it all in a few bad videos.
The loose moral of the story is that one needs to exercise caution from branding an individual like their company. The differences can and do make or break both.