In the digital age, building and establishing a personal brand has become increasingly vital for professionals across industries. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, influencer, freelancer, or corporate professional, your name can become synonymous with your business.
Your personal brand is the impression others have of you, incorporating your expertise, values, and unique qualities. And sometimes, your name itself can be the cornerstone of this brand.
Being the owner of two businesses where my name is centrical to the company and its ethos, I have become intrigued by this topic. In building two brands, albeit decades apart, the importance of my name in the business didn’t full resonate until a recent interview with perfumer Jo Malone. I was reminded of just how valuable a name can be.
WHEN YOUR NAME IS YOUR BUSINESS
The extraordinary success of iconic figures whose names are synonymous with their businesses, Elon Musk, Oprah Winfrey, and Richard Branson, among others, clearly demonstrates the power of a name. These people and countless others have built empires around their personal brands. Their names have become more than just identifiers; they represent a specific set of values, ideas, and accomplishments.
When your name is your business, your reputation, credibility, and how people perceive you are intertwined with your name. Every action, every interaction contributes to your brand’s narrative.
There are pros and cons to this. A brand built on the reputation of one person is instantly recognisable. It’s unique. There’s only one you. And if you build the trust of clients, stakeholders and customers, people buy into that legacy for the long term.
There’s a but… it also means you must always be on your best behaviour. You are synonymous with your business. How you act in your personal, public, and professional life, how you commentate in the media and what you share on social media, can have a transformational or catastrophic effect on your business.
And what about employees? When your business is your name, you must be confident that everyone you employ will represent not only your business, but you personally, in the best possible way. It is as though you have given each staff member a personal recommendation. That can be tough to monitor as your business grows.
KNOWING YOUR TRUE VALUE
As I alluded to at the beginning of the blog, a conversation with perfumer and global entrepreneur Jo Malone led to me considering the true value of a name when it comes to business. During our conversation on the latest series of my Events That Made Me podcast, she spoke of when she sold her business to Estee Lauder, and the realisation of exactly what she had given away with that deal.
“I wanted to start again. But I had no idea where to start, and Gary [Jo’s husband] said, ‘well what do you want to call yourself, because you can’t be Jo Malone.’ So, I said, ‘but I am Jo Malone.’ And he replied, ‘Yes, but you can’t be Jo Malone in a business.’ And it suddenly dawned on me what it was that I had really sold. It wasn’t just Lime, Basil and Mandarin or Pomegranate Noir. I had sold my name, and along with that the rights to go out there and trade in business.”
The sum for which Jo Malone was sold is undisclosed, but she was quoted at the time as saying, “I’m a very happy woman.”
Safe to say that personal branding can be lucrative whether you choose to stay in your business or cash out.
CHALLENGES AND BENEFITS OF YOU, THE BUSINESS
Building a personal brand centred around your name isn’t without challenges. It requires dedication, time, and thick skin. There is much potential for scrutiny and criticism. However, as myself and Jo have seen, the benefits far outweigh the challenges.
Your name becomes recognisable within your industry, potentially opening doors for collaborations, partnerships, and opportunities. You can become an authority figure. A go to commentator or a consultant. In short people will pay for your expertise.
A strong personal brand can establish trust with your customers and clients. People are more likely to engage with a professional who is credible and genuine.
By actively managing your personal brand within your business, you have more control over how you’re perceived professionally.
CRAFTING YOUR PERSONA
With all this in mind there are some tips on how to build a personal brand that have stood me in good stead throughout the years.
- Start by understanding what you want your personal brand to communicate. Are you a thought leader in a specific industry? Do you want to be known for innovation, reliability, or creativity? Your brand should reflect you and be authentic while aligning with your professional goals.
- Be it on social media, your website, or networking events, consistency is crucial. Use professional profile pictures in line with your persona, a consistent tone of voice, and messaging that aligns with your brand narrative.
- Share your knowledge with valuable content related to your expertise. This can help to establish your authority and expand your reach. Whether it’s through PR, blogs, videos, or social media posts, regularly sharing insights can solidify your position as a thought leader in your field.
- Building a personal brand isn’t a one-way street. Networking both online and offline can amplify your presence and build meaningful connections.
- Never lose sight of the detail. For me this is paramount, when the stakes are so high, you can never drop the ball when it comes to detail.
When your name becomes your business, you’re not just selling a product or service; you’re selling yourself. Your expertise. Your values. Your personality. Building a personal brand around your name involves a blend of authenticity, consistency, and strategic communication. It’s a journey that requires continuous effort and adaptability, but it can lead to unparalleled professional opportunities and recognition.