When it comes to branding, the thing you are likely most concerned with is your business branding.
Your employees may make up your business, but they are meant to represent the brand itself. Therefore, you may not think it important to create a personal brand for each of them.
However, when your employees have a strong personal brand, it can help reinforce your business brand. This is especially true for businesses that have a small workforce, those that have a “face” of the company such as a high-profile CEO, and those that offer services.
Here’s what you need to know about how personal branding affects your business branding:
Why It’s Important
Say you are a marketing company that helps businesses learn how to brand themselves. Why should your customers hire you if your own employees don’t know how to effectively brand themselves?
By having social media accounts, websites and more to showcase your employees’ personal brands, you show your customers that you know what you’re doing.
Personal branding can help to reinforce employees’ expertise and to build trust.
Employee branding also allows them to network and to build awareness in the market. That means that they will have a better chance of building successful partnerships and of attracting new business all on their own. Your business marketing will only reinforce that.
Branding even helps employees know who to talk to within your organization to share their ideas, get help with a strategy they want to implement and so on. Branding helps everyone does their work better.
Look at your workforce and determine where your employee strengths can help you create a more cooperative company atmosphere or to improve your overall brand marketing.
Implementing Personal Brands
Before you let your employees loose on the world to create their own brands, it is important that you have some in-depth strategy sessions with those you think need to have an established brand the most.
Those sessions should include detailed discussions about how the employee sees their own brand and how that meshes with the company’s overall brand. You can identify ways in which they overlap so that you can note which aspects of the employee’s brand to highlight.
You may then want to assign the marketing department to create the online profiles or websites for employees so that your company can maintain control over the information that is shared. This will be especially important if employees have already established an online presence and you need to make some modifications.
If employees already have a website or social media accounts, you may need to ask that they make these private or that they make some approved adjustments to them. You can also ask that employees make private social media accounts for themselves but then make an official page for their company branding.
Employee social media profiles and websites can then be included in your overall marketing strategy. You can link to them, include them in your email blasts, highlight them on your own social channels and so on.
Conduct regular meetings to discuss branding strategy and to adjust as needed. That can include a social media posting schedule, a content strategy for websites, and even the creation of special e-books or white papers to give away on employee channels.
When to Avoid Strong Personal Brands
Personal brands can sometimes be a detriment to your company, whether they were established before they became a part of your company or you helped to develop them.
The most obvious issue arises when employees have a brand that is contrary to their company brands.
For example, The Daily Show had to deal with a social media flap after it was revealed that new host Trevor Noah had previously posted some updates that were borderline sexist and racist. Those are not values that the show embraces, so executives had to figure out a way to assuage viewer concerns without losing any of them.
Employees that want to maintain a strong personal brand may also clash with the company if they feel that management is trying to quiet their personal voice or turn them into a “clone” for the brand. They may want to maintain their own professional identity for personal career planning. An exercise in marketing could turn into an employee morale problem in no time.
Branding is an important part of your brand, and your employees are part of that brand. You have to weigh all the pros and cons to determine how prominently you want to feature them in your own branding and marketing.
If you do decide to include your employees’ personal branding in your own marketing, you need to take a strategic approach that involves careful evaluation and regular review. You will also need to have employee buy-in to get the results you want.