The Link Between Your Business Brand vs. “Brand You”

For entrepreneurs and small businesses, it can be challenging to identify when personal brands and business brands should mesh and when they should be mutually exclusive. In truth, most entrepreneurs and small businesses are their companies, so separating themselves from their business brands is nearly impossible and often a mistake. How do you know if separating Brand You from your business brand is the right or wrong decision?

First, you need to understand that personal preferences shouldn’t get in the way of your business brand. Just because you don’t like the color green doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use it in your business logo.

Following are some guidelines to help you determine when business and personal brands should blend and when they should separate:

1.    When your personal preference impedes functionality, progress and growth, listen to that preference. In other words, if you detest the color green so much (as in the example above) that it would disrupt your ability to run your business, don’t use it in your business brand identity.

2.    When your personal preference and business strategy don’t agree, combine them to find the best of both worlds. For example, if your dislike of green can be put aside because the use of green in your company logo design is too perfect to pass up, then you succeed in making the best business decision without compromising personal integrity.

3.    When you just can’t decide, ask your customers to help. If you simply cannot separate your personal preferences from your business strategy and objectivity, ask existing or potential customers to provide their opinions. Just remember, customers have personal preferences, too, which might affect their feedback.

4.    Use your personal intuition with caution. Intuition is important, but you shouldn’t throw caution to the wind and follow your intuition blindly. Consider your experience, supporting facts, trend analysis and any other data you can gather to support your intuition before you make a risky decision.

5.    Going against the grain can be good as long as that risky decision is based on strategy. Again, don’t dive in without a paddle. Make sure your decisions will at least float before you jump. You want to differentiate your brand and be unique, but don’t rebel without just cause and a solid plan.

6.    Identify non-negotiable brand design elements up front. You don’t want to incur additional expenses for redesigns, so be sure to provide your logo designer with a list of things you don’t want. For example, if you know you don’t want your logo design to be green, say so before the design process begins.

7.    Avoid compromise that waters down your brand message. If you don’t like brands that use photos of babies to tug on consumers’ heartstrings despite the fact that advertising experts say it’s the right thing to do in order to get results, don’t compromise by allowing just one picture of a baby or very small images of babies, or baby pictures in half-tones in the background of your ad or brochure. Put your foot down and say no. A marketing decision like this reflects who you are and what your brand is about. Don’t compromise.

Always look to make the best business decisions based on your personal experiences, knowledge, and insight. That’s what makes an entrepreneur’s business unique. No one else is like you, so let those elements of your brand shine through strategically.

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