Let’s get something straight right off the bat: if you’re a small business owner, to some extent your personal brand IS your business brand, like it or not. Some business owners try very hard to separate their “real” life from their business, but at the end of the day, the work you do and you as a person are very connected. Whether people feel comfortable with you in their homes (if you’re a contractor or interior designer), knowing about their very personal problems (as a medical provider or therapist), or helping them with their own business (if you’re a web designer, writer, or accountant) depends a lot on how they perceive you as an individual and whether they feel like they can trust you and that you have the same values.
Because of this, we encourage clients to think of how their personal brand and business brand interact with and reflect off one another. All of this gets complicated by social media, where you might have both a personal page and a brand page. How do you decide what to post on each? How can you maintain privacy and also reassure clients that you are a trustworthy and responsible human being?
One way to think about this is to think about the different functions of each social media site. For instance, LinkedIn obviously has a very professional focus, whereas Facebook is often seen as more social and casual (though we certainly advise clients to utilize the power of Facebook for their business as well). So one approach is to keep both your company profile and personal profile on LinkedIn completely focused on your business, and then on Facebook you might have more crossover between your two profiles. We actually think it can be very helpful to, say, have a headshot as your company profile pic, rather than just a logo or other image, because this plays into that need for people to attach a face to a name. At the same time, posting funny cat videos on your company page is a big no-no.
Your Personal Brand and Business Brand Shouldn’t Conflict
Another truth is that anyone with the teeniest bit of internet savvy can probably find your personal profiles on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. If your personal brand is all about heated political debates, very personal pictures, or anything else that might conflict with the image you are trying to project with your business brand, we strongly encourage you to evaluate that conflict and think about how you might try to better reconcile your personal brand with your business brand. If you went to hire a lawyer, but a little Googling revealed a bunch of pictures of her doing shots and looking generally irresponsible, that would probably make you question your decision, right? Those pictures would certainly conflict with a professional brand meant to inspire confidence.
So generally you should think of your personal brand and business brand as inextricably linked. Yes, you should separate them as far as what you post on your business page versus your personal page and maintain other professional standards in terms of separating your business and personal life, but at the same time you should always be aware that your personal brand can help boost (or can do real damage to) your business brand.
If you have any questions about how to define your brand or how to balance your personal brand with your business brand online, we are always happy to chat. Please contact Niki at firstname.lastname@example.org for a complimentary consultation.