A brand and a personal brand are two distinct concepts, even though they share many similarities. While both are concerned with creating an image that resonates with people, they differ in their scope, purpose, and application. In this article, we’ll explore the difference between a brand and a personal brand, and why it’s important to understand the distinction.
What is a brand?
Firstly, a brand is a broader concept that refers to the image, values, and identity of a company, product, or service. That’s true of both a brand and a personal brand. While you can have a personable brand in both instances, the difference boils down to what it is that you sell, and how. Just because you are a service-based business it doesn’t mean you have (or need) a personal brand. And just because you don’t have a business it doesn’t mean you won’t benefit from one.
The purpose of branding is to create a perception of value, trust, and loyalty so people will take action. If the action is purchasing from you, it can help you differentiate yourself from your competitors. It can also help attract and retain customers, and command premium pricing. A personal brand, on the other hand, can help an individual cultivate credibility and open up new opportunities.
The difference between a brand and a personal brand
A brand can be transferred from one entity to another, while a personal brand is intimately tied to the individual. If you have a service-based business, you have both avenues open to you. Many agencies start with individuals and expand, becoming “Name and Associates” or listing the partners’ names or adding “studio” etc. It’s common in many industries, including the creative industries.
Personal brands with a support team exist, so don’t worry about getting it right from the get go. You can have your name as your brand name and still build an empire like Martha Stewart. Or you can have a product-based brand and still have a founder’s mythology (does anyone ever remember the Apple co-founders?).
Service-based businesses aren’t just coaches, no matter how often it’s used as a shorthand for that in online marketing. I have a service-based business, and so does your lawyer, your doctor, and your plumber.
Service-based is any business that does not sell a product, although some involve something physical (like photography, or catering).
If you sell a product, be it physical or digital (like a software), you need a company brand. You can move on to the series on brand visual storytelling if you want to get started on that journey.
If you sell digital products like ebooks and courses etc you are selling skills and intellectual property, so a service.
How to choose which type of brand you need as a service-based business
There are a couple of considerations you can ponder when you start the journey.
- What kind of brands are your ideal audience most likely to trust for the type of offer you sell?
- What marketing are you comfortable doing?
Feel free to ask them in whatever order, compare the lists, and see where the overlap lies.
You may be comfortable with visibility but work in a business to business industry, so a company is best, and you can also have a founder personal brand to tap into.
Or you may not be comfortable being visible but customers need the personal touch, like a therapist or healer. There are some ways you can be seen without being seen. (Psst…I can help with that, consider signing up to my newsletter to be notified of any new resources).
Once you know what will attract the kind of people you want to work with, then you can build a strategy around how you show up, online and offline.
While both brands and personal brands are about creating an image that resonates with people, they differ in their scope, purpose, and application. Understanding the difference between these concepts can help businesses and individuals create more effective branding strategies that align with their goals and values. Ultimately, a strong brand or personal brand can help create a positive perception, build trust, and establish credibility in the minds of customers and potential clients. The one you choose is based on what you offer and what your people are looking for.