When I started my business, I very firmly believed I wanted to be a business brand. But, less than a year later, I was completely rethinking that choice and was actively taking steps towards cultivating a personal brand. There are advantages and disadvantages to both business and personal brands, which is something you can read more about here.
In any case, at the time I started my business, I honestly believed that choosing a business brand was the right thing for me to do. I know now that a more personal brand feels right for me, and I’m glad I made the decision to change before I got much further along.
Making the decision between a business and a personal brand is a tough one, but I am proof it is possible to change your mind later on. The reasons you might do this are varied, but I’ll be honest and say making the switch later is a huge amount of work. Changing from a business to a personal brand is something I’m still working to undo, six months later. So, I’ll tell you my reasons for choosing a business brand and what ultimately made me switch.
Perhaps it will help you make the decision for your brand!
What is a Business Brand
A business brand is an identity that you create for your business. It’s like creating another personality that is designed to reach a very specific type of person. They’re great if you do plan on becoming more than one person, or if you’d like to sell your business one day. The important thing about creating a business brand is to plan ahead and be consistent. Once you become known as a digital marketing consultancy (for example), it can be hard to pivot and change that business (but not impossible), so they usually have a shelf life of some kind.
What is a Personal Brand
A personal brand is just that: it’s you, your interests and your lifestyle. It helps you to connect with your audience in a genuine way because you’re a real person. Personal brands tend to be more flexible, as humans expect other humans to evolve and grow. However, you do have to do more work to associate your name with the thing that you do, in a way that you may not have to do with a business brand. As an example, “Brisbane Web Designs” is clearer than “Junior Roberts” as far as what you’re going to get from the brand.
Why I chose a Business Brand
I originally chose to have a business brand by the name of Lucent Connections. I made this decision because… well because I thought it was the thing that you did. I didn’t know a lot of people who were freelancers, and at the time I was solely focussed on being a digital marketing consultant. I wanted to seem as legitimate as possible and to me, the way to do that, was to act like I wasn’t a “me” but an “us”. There were limitations to that, obviously. I still signed off all my blog posts and newsletters as Laura, and of course I was the only one who appeared on my Instagram and other social media. But I lived behind the false implication that there was more than just me; that there was a team supporting me and my work.
For me, it was a safety net, and it was a legitimiser. It was a way of feeling like I was worthy enough to work on other people’s businesses, because I had my own. At the time, I didn’t really know who my target audience was, and I wanted to make sure I kept my options open and appeared as appealing as possible to as many different people. Marketing is a very “corporate-y” type business, and I wanted to appear like I was on the same level.
I also had some vague ideas of becoming an “us” one day, and maybe becoming a more full service boutique style marketing agency. I now know that’s not really what I want from my career… at least not right now. Come back to me in 3-5 years and maybe I’ll have changed my mind again!
While business brands work, and are perfect choices for some people, for me it was a confidence issue. I wanted to prove I could show up as “me” and only me, because when we work together… that’s what you get.
Why I switched to a Personal Brand
Ultimately, I switched to a more personal brand because I was struggling to connect with the brand identity I had cultivated for myself. It didn’t take me long to realise I never wanted to be a corporate style business. I was struggling to reach anyone in particular, let alone the people I actually wanted to work with. I never meant to have the Corporate World as my target audience, but somehow I ended up there simply by choosing to have a brand to hide behind. I was censoring myself; the things I enjoy doing, the things I believe in and the values I hold. That meant that I was working with people who didn’t value or understand me, and with people who were in complete misalignment to the things I believed.
I switched to a personal brand because what I wanted from my future became clearer to me. I did the work to define my business goals and the types of people I wanted to help. It was clear to me that if I wanted to reach those people, I needed to be myself. And, if I wanted to enjoy what I was doing and feel fulfilled by my work, I needed to stop hiding. More than anything, I want to work with people who value the same things I do, and want the same things I do.
Alongside that, I realised I want to do more than digital marketing consulting. I want to create meaningful content and user focussed websites and have the opportunity to pivot further in the future if I want. By using my own name (or a variation of it), I give myself the opportunity and the permission to evolve. I don’t know where I will be in 3-5 years, but at least now I’m free to embrace that future with my whole heart.
So which will you choose? Remember what's right for me, may not be right for you. When it comes to your business there's no "right" or "wrong" answers; just what feels best for you and your growth.
Until next time, look after yourself!