YOU and Your Company: Making the Corporate Brand / Personal Brand Connection
By Brenda Bence
You may already know that defining and communicating your unique personal
brand on the job is a powerful way to further your career. But have you ever
thought about the connection between your personal brand and your company's
brand? What role does that "connection" - or lack of a connection - play in
your career success? And how do you determine if your personal brand is out
of sync with your company's brand?
Whether we're talking about personal brands or corporate brands, here's a
secret that the best marketers know: Great brands don't get to be great by
accident! In fact, there is a tried-and-true formula for building great
brands, and it starts with defining six core elements. These elements fit
together like puzzle pieces to define your personal brand or your company's
brand, and they reflect what you want your firm - or "YOU" - to stand for.
How does your personal brand line up with your company's brand in terms of
these six elements?
1. Target Market/Audience. Who does your company target as existing or
potential customers for its products or services? BMW targets wealthier
customers than Toyota, for example. Cuervo targets younger customers than
Smirnoff. Just as your company focuses on who it wants as its customers,
your personal brand should also be focused on the people at work who can
most impact your career and future. They make up your personal brand's
2. Needs. Your company meets the needs of its customers through its products
or services. It's no different with your personal brand. Think about it:
What does your personal brand audience need from you, and how well are you
meeting those needs?
3. Competition/Comparison. Corporate branders need to know their competitors
well in order to understand why a customer would choose their brand over
another. Similarly, personal branders must know something about the other
people that their audience will compare them to. Is there someone else who
can better fill your personal brand audience's needs? That's your personal
4. Benefits/Unique Strengths. A corporate brand must offer specific benefits
to its target market, just like your personal brand needs to communicate the
unique strengths that set you apart from others.
5. Reasons Why. A big name brand must have "reasons why" - reasons that
convince a company's target market that the brand can deliver the benefits
it offers. Your personal brand has reasons why, too - reasons your personal
brand audience will believe you can deliver the unique strengths you
promise. What credibility do you have, and why?
6. Brand Character. Every brand - corporate or personal - has a personality
or "character" that makes it different from any other brand. Think about the
difference between Pepsi and Coke. The products contain almost the same
ingredients, but each brand has a unique character that has been carefully
created by marketers. And that character is what helps you choose one soda
over the other. Your personal brand character does the same for "YOU."
Comparing Your Personal Brand with Your Company's Brand
If you apply the above framework to both your company's brand and your
personal brand, do they connect well with one another? Is your company's
target market of interest to you, and are they the kind of people you enjoy
pleasing? Are you passionate about working to fill the needs of that market?
Everyone who works for a company is a marketer for that company. You
represent the firm whether or not you deal directly with customers or
perform direct sales as a part of your job. The bottom line? To be
successful on the job, you need to have a connection with the company's
brand, character, and mission. Your personal brand definition needs to "fit"
like a glove with the corporate brand definition.
Let's take Anna as an example. She had worked for 15 years as a corporate
executive for a multinational airline, a job which had given her
opportunities to travel and live all around the world. She had been very
happy there until a few years ago when she began to feel uncomfortable in
her job. She realized she was no longer content and passionate about the
company, and she couldn't figure out why.
When Anna sat down and defined both her personal brand and the airline's
corporate brand, she discovered that the two brands were out of sync. Her
personal brand character hadn't changed over the years, but the company's
brand character had changed - as a result of "9/11." Before those fateful
events, the company had been a friendly place to work. But after September
11, 2001, the company had implemented many new policies and changes that
resulted in a less friendly work environment.
After evaluating her own personal brand character and the changed brand
character of the airline, Anna realized that there was a disconnect now
where there wasn't before. This helped her make better sense of her existing
situation and helped her develop a plan of action for better short-term and
long-term career success.
When you sit back and look at the six elements of both your company's brand
and your personal brand - side by side - what do you find? How strong is the
connection? If it's strong, you probably feel great about your job and enjoy
your work. If the connection is less than strong, what elements are
disjointed? What could you do to make a stronger bond between your own
individual brand and the company's brand?
The bottom line is: Your short- and long-term career success - as well as
your overall job satisfaction - depend on having a strong corporate
brand/personal brand connection. Do YOU?
About the Author:
Brenda Bence, branding expert and certified executive coach, is the author
of "How YOU Are Like Shampoo," the only start-to-finish book for defining,
communicating, and taking control of your personal brand at work. After
graduating from Harvard Business School, Brenda developed mega brands for
Procter & Gamble and Bristol-Myers Squibb. She now travels the world
speaking, training and coaching on corporate and personal brand development.
For more information, visit: www.BrendaBence.com.