Ask Janet: Personal Branding versus Business Branding

Hi Janet, I have a question about business and personal branding. I own a boutique mortgage brokering business with a strong reputation for personalised service. I am the principal broker and, because of our very personal service, my customers often see my personal brand as closely linked with my business brand. In your opinion, is it best to embrace the personal branding link and brand our business under my name? Or is it best to separate them and have 2 websites, one for the business and one about me?

I understand that by having a business name different to my own name could be important when selling the business. But it’s a lot of work to run two websites and keep up with seo / marketing etc etc…in many cases people forget a business name but remember a personal name.

Warmest regards

Vanessa Wenham

Janet’s Answer

Thanks for such a great question Vanessa. I know this is a dilemma a lot of business people face, especially if they are solo-preneurs or lead a small team.Before I answer, let me ask YOU a question first.

What is your long-term vision for your business and more importantly, for yourself?

1. Do you want your career to be personality driven and your products and services to be grown around your personal brand? This means you are really passionate about your field of expertise and are unlikely to move into another niche. You don’t really care if, when you decide to move into something else, your business loses it’s brand. This is really attractive if you have a strong personal story you build your books, courses and services around. It is particulary attractive for professional speakers.

2. Or do you want the flexibility to expand into different areas of expertise and be able to sell the business you have created or build a team to deliver the products and services while you move into new fields?

It doesn’t need to be either/or

Often, even if you build a business brand separate to your own identity, your personal identity can still be closely aligned, even if you didn’t mean it to be. This is because people like to do business with people they like and know so you need to have a person, or at least a culture in your business, people can relate to.

This is something I resisted for quite a while. I built Wonderful Web Women so it would be a separate identity to me and the focus was really meant to be on the experts I interviewed, not me. However, I found that every time I injected a more personal touch in my communication, the engagement of my customers really increased. Engagement leads to cash by the way! Eventually I accepted that it was OK to be a very visible and identifiable personality in my business and not distract from the overall company brand.

My company and brand will continue to grow and eventually there will be an expanded network of Wonderful Web Mentors. The brand will still have my style, values and leadership but it will still have a separate identity. Just like Virgin is linked to Sir Richard Branson but we all know Virgin is bigger than just him. (I had to mention him, he is one of my big influencers).

So the same can happen with your company. It can still have it’s own brand and continue to grow and serve more people than you could do on your own. It will still have your influence, values and personality injected in your marketing. But you can have your own separate identity without confusing your customers.

Short answer?

I recommend you have 2 web sites or at least own 2 domains.

To start with, just have your personal domain name and redirect it so it goes to a page on your business site which has your biography on it. Just make sure you own your name url. You don’t need a whole site about you if, for the moment, your business service is your major focus. By the way, on your website, I recommend you have an extra page that is just about you. You can link to this page from your existing “About Us” page under a section “Learn more about our founder” or something similar. That way you are a separate identity to your business and the About Us page better reflects you are a growing company with a team of people to serve your clients.

When you decide you want to be an author, speaker or mentor then it is time to develop a web page that is all about you as an individual. Then you can put photos, newsreels, press kits, speaker kits etc on that new site. Only then is it really worth your effort to build up an entire site around your personal brand.

I’d love to hear what you decide to do. I’d also love to hear from you dear readers. Is this a question you also have in your growing business? Maybe you have chosen to go one way or the other and have tips and lessons to share with others. I’d love to hear.

Please leave your comments below and I’ll come back here and join the conversation.




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