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What’s the Difference Between Brand and Personal Branding?

What’s the Difference Between Brand and Personal Branding?

What do you relate to more – a business or a person?

If you were sat in a pub, who would you rather be having a conversation with about a possible purchase? A brand or a person?

It’s always the latter, isn’t it? We relate to people because, well, we’re people, too. It’s why your last purchasing decision will almost certainly have been influenced at some stage by a real, living, breathing human being.

This fact of life plays a key role in branding, and today, we’re going to look at the differences between a traditional brand and a personal brand.


What is personal branding?

People often think that ‘branding’ simply means a fancy logo and nice-looking website. So it’s understandable if you’re confused as to how this can apply personally.

Personal branding isn’t a new marketing strategy, but it is a great illustration of how much deeper branding goes beyond the pretty stuff you see on web pages.

Arguably, personal branding is actually the essence of branding. It’s the process of taking one’s human traits, preferences, and personality, and turning them into a marketable product.

Personal branding can actually refer to anything, from the way you speak, to how you dress, your reputation, or even your sense of humour. Get it right, and you can build a brand centred entirely around you which is capable of drawing in a huge, engaged audience which trusts you implicitly.


Examples of personal brands in action

Richard Branson is perhaps the most famous example of the power of personal branding. Indeed, if you think ‘Virgin’, you probably think of Branson. However, check out his Wikipedia page, and his occupation is now listed simply as ‘Businessman, author, and commercial astronaut’. Ok, maybe not ‘simply’, but you get our point.

The guy is barely involved with Virgin these days! The business itself has spawned a massive number of subsidiaries from its roots as a music retailer, and none of them are led by Branson. Yet, it was his personal brand which carried it to astronomical success (literally – they’ll be taking you to space, soon too).

Gary Vaynerchuk (or ‘Gary Vee’ as he’s otherwise known) is another example of a brilliantly successful personal brand. The Belarusian-American entrepreneur founded VaynerMedia in 2009 with his brother. Today, it’s a multi-million dollar company that sits alongside countless other successful ventures.

Vee is the figurehead of every business he has started. Arguably, his face and name are far more famous than any of his enterprises.


What’s the difference between personal branding and traditional branding?

At their heart, personal brands and traditional brands are identical; they’re designed to build audiences and sell products or services.

They’re easily distinguishable when you know what to look for.

For instance, when you fancy a McDonald’s do you think of a person (Ronald aside), or those Golden Arches? If you’ve spent any time looking into search engine optimisation (SEO), do you think of Ubersuggest or Neil Patel?

Apple is another interesting example. Do you think of a person or a company when that name is mentioned? It’s probably the latter, because as influential and successful as Tim Cook is, he’s more of a front man for Apple than a personification of the brand.


Is personal branding right for you?

There’s no escaping the fact that personal branding requires a significant amount of time in the spotlight, and that really isn’t for everyone.

However, the benefits of personal branding are compelling. For instance, if you invest in your own, it can lead to:

  • a larger, more engaged audience for your products or services;
  • better career prospects;
  • more opportunities to partner with other brands;
  • promotions within your existing company; and
  • opportunities to act as an influencer for other brands.

Despite this, there are some challenges. For instance, damage reputation is much trickier with personal branding. Take Tony Robbins, for instance. The financial self-help guru often divides opinion, but he placed himself in significantly hotter water last December when he was accused of discriminating against an employee who caught COVID.

Dig yourself out of that one, Tony.

With a personal brand, the spotlight is firmly on you. It requires more speaking, presenting, article writing, and getting involved with a multitude of content formats such as podcasting and video.

Not everyone wants that. Not everyone likes the attention or has an extraverted personality. Indeed, there are only a select few who want to be the face of a brand. But if you do, the results could be transformative.

If we’ve sparked your curiosity today, just get in touch with the Be Smart team and hit us with your branding questions!