I had an interesting conversation with Peter Kim while out at SXSWi last week about my recent personal branding post and the comments he left a comment asking me to expand my thoughts from a corporate perspective and to explore the parallels between corporate and personal approaches. During our conversation Peter said that he thinks that most people will have a personal brand over time, so I asked him what he thought that would mean from a corporate viewpoint. He asked me to write a post on what I thought it meant and, well, you know me, I have lots of opinions and thoughts...so here goes.
I agree that most corporate people will begin to create online 'personal brands' by setting up LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, insert next new cool online tool here, accounts. But is that enough from the corporate perspective?
Having these accounts doesn't automatically grant people with personal brand equity. And I think that's the disconnect that I have with personal branding. Having a bunch of online accounts doesn't just automatically equate to equity. But what you do with those accounts including the conversations you have and the people you are connected to does have the ability to establish online personas and reputations that might equate to equity and that's what corporations are interested in. It's like the new sales person showing up with an already established network. The sales person is implying that they have established relationships that will help to generate revenue (and their bonuses!). Sales people sell against a revenue number and that's the potential equity they bring to the table. But what if you aren't in sales? As a marketer, what does your personal brand bring to the table in the form of equity?
Let's take a step back and wrap our heads around traditional corporate branding (there's a method to the madness and boring definition review).
Brand: A name/mark intended to identify and differentiate a product/service of a seller
Brand Mark: The part of the brand that appears in the form of a symbol, design, distinct color/font
Brand Name: The part of the brand that can be vocalized (words, letters, numbers)
Brand Loyalty: A buyer's commitment to repurchase the brand
Brand Equity: The value the brand adds to the product/service
For generations marketers have been branding with these terms in mind (think Coca-Cola, Nike, Amazon.com, etc.). But let's look at it from a personal perspective in relation to working for a company, government agency, non-profit, university, etc. (the "corporate" perspective).
Personal Brand: A name/mark intended to identify and differentiate a product/service of a seller
Personal Brand Mark: part of the brand that appears in the form of a symbol, design, distinct color/font
Personal Brand Name: The part of the brand that can be vocalized (words, letters, numbers)
Personal Brand Loyalty: A buyer's commitment to repurchase the brand
Personal Brand Equity: The value the brand adds to the product/service
So how do the definitions change when "personal" is added? And what should corporations look for or expect? You didn't think they should hire you just because of your cool online presence, did you?
- What are you selling? How does your unique skill set, experience, reputation, etc. achieve corporate goals and objectives?
- What's your brand mark? Perhaps you have a personal logo or an avatar (photo). Are you distinct?
- What's your name? That's obvious. But is it a well known name that a corporation would embrace? Is it a name recognized and established in the industry?
- How much loyalty do you have banked? Can you bring ready-to-buy customers/prospects to the table upon hiring? Does the brand loyalty you've established help shorten the sales cycle? Do you have marketing/PR relationships that help save money or generate revenue?
- What is your personal brand worth in revenue? What value does it add to the existing corporate brand? (Or does it conflict?) Does your personal brand help propel the corporate brand forward or create buzz?
The last one, personal brand equity is of a lot of interest to me. Years ago there was a push to make marketing professionals accountable (brand valuation) for the financial well-being of corporation brands. Wikipedia explains it this way: "[to] measure the brand as a financial asset. In short, a calculation is made regarding how much the brand is worth as an intangible asset. For example, if you were to take the value of the firm, as derived by its market capitalization-and then subtract tangible assets and "measurable" intangible assets-the residual would be the brand equity."
From the brand equity perspective, what I am wondering is that if you feel strongly about personal branding, would you stake your income on it? Would you be willing to derive a portion of your income based on how much you positively or negatively influence brand valuation from an accountant's viewpoint? (i.e. if it's positive, more income; if it's negative, less income perhaps even termination).
From the corporate perspective, should corporations pick people with established online personal brands over those that do not? What if their skill sets are the same? Should someone with an established online personal brand be paid more?
From a personal approach, what if you are the personal brand that owns the company? Do you view your personal brand equity stake to be even higher and therefore riskier?
Would a company full of personal brands that were compensated on personal brand equity provide a better customer experience?
What are your thoughts? What am I missing? What would you add?
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