I’ve been an entrepreneur for 4 years now. When I first began my journey, I had a choice…
Do I come up with a business brand/name to work under, or do I just work as “myself” personally?
I decided that I would work under a business name, Big Idea Marketing. Because I was in a bit of a rush, I didn’t spend any real time researching the reasons for and against this choice. I had to make a lot of decisions very quickly because I already had clients enquiring and needed to set myself up ASAP! Here’s why I went with a business name at the time:
- I felt like it made me sound more legit (and I really didn’t feel legit back then, trust me!)
- I liked that it communicated what I did (but in hindsight, it communicated this way too broadly)
- I’m a pretty reserved person and it was nice to “hide” behind a brand
- I felt like it was more future-proof – just in case I one day wanted to pass on the business
- I felt that it was appropriate for the approach I was taking – building a team to work in a business, not necessarily under me.
Fast-forward a few years and I’ve learned quite a few lessons, one of which is that a personal brand was and is actually more appropriate for me. In hindsight, I should have just gone with “Angela Rodgers” all along. Here’s why I decided to switch from my business brand to a personal brand.
People do Business with People
Even if you’re in a business to business industry, people still choose who to do business with based on the people behind the business. More and more consumers want to know about about the people behind a brand, their personal values, and story before they make a purchase. It makes no sense to hide behind a business name when your personal name is your greatest asset.
It Gives You a Competitive Edge
If your competitors are hiding behind a business name, then you’re going to have a competitive edge, because if all else is equal, your personal brand will be more appealing to your potential customers and clients than your competitor’s corporate brand.
People Trust People, Not Companies
Know, like, trust, buy. That’s how it works in business. Understandably, it is at least a hundred times easier to get to know, like, and trust another person than it is to do the same thing with a brand or company.
It Frees Me Up to Be Authentic
Suddenly, I don’t feel like I have to pretend to be this big, fancy company that has everything together. I can just be me! Instead of overthinking or filtering every piece of content I put out, I can just create content from inside. I can say, “Yep, this is me, this is what you get, and if you like it, we should do business, and if you don’t, we’re not a fit.” Before, there was such a disconnect between my personal identity and the identity I was crafting for the business, and quite frankly, it was exhausting to maintain. Being true to myself is much easier and requires less energy.
Work on Expert Status (Get Cred!)
I feel like as a personal brand, it is so much easier to go vertical and grow my status as an expert. As a business, it felt like all I could do was try and learn new skills to build new services and offers in to grow the value of my business. Now, I can focus more on knowing everything there is to know about what I want to specialise in, so that I can be the go-to person in this area.
No More Split Personality (and Marketing)
Before, I was maintaining multiple personal and social profiles, all with conflicting messages because I was too afraid to mix personal with business. It would have looked confusing to anyone who knew me personally as well as in the business world. Heck, it even confused me! I was afraid of scaring off either audience by cross-posting content from my personal to business life and vice versa. Now that my business IS my personal brand, I have way less to think about, and can mix both lives together easily. I’m comfortable with clients, family, and friends all seeing what I’m up to, whether work or weekend.
Better for Relationship Building and Networking
These days, especially for freelancers, a lot of networking and relationship building happens online through forums and social media groups. You are usually forced to operate these under your personal name, just as you would if you were networking in person. The more active you are, the more your personal name pops up, and the more likely someone will remember you. If you operate under a business name, this adds in another extra thing that people have to look up or remember if they want to do business with you in the future. A personal brand name is usually more memorable than a company name.
Forces Me To Niche
I found that switching to a personal brand gave me permission to do what I wanted. Before, I was “Big Idea Marketing” – very general sounding and it’s no wonder that I was constantly approached for things I didn’t actually do (or want to do). Now that I’ve switched over to my own name, I feel like I can say what I do without being defined by a business name and services that I came up with years ago.
Better for Speaking Opportunities
If you like to speak at events or as a guest on blogs, podcasts, and webinars, having a personal brand is going to make it much more likely that you’ll be invited along. Because your personal brand is so strong, your name ends up adding credibility to potential events and collaborators, putting you in high demand. Also, when you think about it, a business brand name sounds like you’re just speaking there to sell something… rather than add value.
More Flexibility – People Change, Business Names Can’t
With my business name, I felt stuck with the name and services I’d initially set up. But I wanted to refine these, as I had learnt what I wanted to really do and I’d changed! With a personal brand, it’s almost expected that you evolve and change over time – people don’t stay the same. It definitely gives you more flexibility to pursue different interests down the track.
The Freelance Life Works for Me
Going with a personal brand makes me sound more like the freelancer I actually am. I am fully ready to embrace the freelance life now, and so it just makes sense!
My Marketing Is Now an Investment In Myself
Instead of every piece of marketing going out to put the business name forward, it puts MY name forward, building me up and every future project I undertake. It’s an investment in myself. YAY!
Will I ever consider switching over to a business brand again in future? Yes and no. I think that it’s important for me to maintain my personal brand indefinitely. People work with people, so as long as people exist and I exist, the Angela Rodgers brand needs to keep existing. But I won’t write off starting other business brands and projects in future that I might lend my name and expertise to. These businesses may come and go, but I shall live on! ?
Perhaps you’re a fellow entrepreneur or executive who is umming and ahhing over whether you need to build more on your personal brand. The answer is nearly always yes! Even if you have your own official business name for a company that you have started or you work under, people are still doing business with you, they want to get to know you, and strengthening your personal brand is also going to strengthen your other brands by association. Just do it! ?
The only reason I would see to avoid building a personal brand is if you are a terrible person that nobody wants to buy from or build a relationship with. In which case, best to stay hidden from the masses ?
For great inspiration on how to position your personal brand, I’d recommend that you check out the following internet marketers and online entrepreneurs who I think are doing an amazing job of their personal branding right now:
- Gary Vaynerchuk
- Chris Ducker (love his personal branding podcast!)
- Amy Porterfield
- Nikki Elledge-Brown
- Pat Flynn
- Marie Forleo
- Denise Duffield-Thomas
- Melanie Duncan
- Peg Fitzpatrick
- Kate Toon
- Rand Fishkin
Whenever I’m stuck, I hop on and see what these guys are doing, and it usually gets me unstuck, inspired, and moving along again.