Entrepreneurs need branding advice more than ever before. I wrote a very popular introduction to personal branding specifically for entrepreneurs that got over 800 shares on social networks. The reason? Most entrepreneurs focus on building their corporate brands, and forget about their own. The issue with this is that if you neglect to build your personal brand, and your company fails like most companies do (in the first two years), then you die with it.
In order to increase your long-term success rate as an entrepreneur, you need to focus on four types of brands: yourself, your company, your concept, and your community. By thinking about all of these types of brands, you will start to realize how they are all interconnected, and that each can support one another.
What are you an expert in? What do you want to be known for? Entrepreneurs need to align their brand with that of their company. For instance, I’m a personal branding expert, and my company specializes in helping individuals achieve career success through personal branding. It’s a fairly obvious connection that makes sense to my audience. This also works if you’re into personal finance, or human resources, or if you’re a doctor, lawyer, or any other type of profession. By positioning your personal brand as the go-to expert in your industry, it will be much easier for you to promote your company. An expert can be interviewed by radio, TV, magazines, blogs, etc, but a company can’t be interviewed. A corporate spokesperson is extremely important because the media, and your customers, want to hear your story and opinions.
2. Your company
As an individual, you can’t scale, but your company can. By getting your name out there, you have the opportunity to cite your company’s name. When you’re on TV, you can use your company to identify who you are. For example “Dan Schawbel, Founder of Millennial Branding.” The more your company gets recognized, or just cited, in the media the more brand awareness it will have. Your company, whether you have two or 200 employees, can scale because your employees can become evangelists and spread your corporate gospel to a global audience using the Internet.
3. Your concept
If you want to grow your business, as well as yourself as an expert in your industry, then you need to build your concept. By developing primary demand for your offerings, you will become more successful in the long term. If more people understand and enjoy the concept of personal branding, it will help both myself and my company survive and thrive. If you’re in an industry where the concept has been around forever, then try and take a different approach than your competitors to create a brand-new concept that you can own, but share. A well-known concept will help the top experts in that field more than anyone else, so it’s critical that you position yourself as the leader.
4. Your community
Your community is a group of people that support you and your company. There’s also an obvious connection between your community and your concept because the community is gathering together to talk about and spread your concept to more people. You need to activate members in your community, and engage with them, in order to keep your concept in the spotlight, and therefore your company, and yourself. You have to feed your community content and interact with them if you want them to remain because there are too many other choices that could divert their attention now.
Dan Schawbel, recognized as a “personal branding guru” by The New York Times, is the Managing Partner of Millennial Branding, LLC, and the leading authority on personal branding. He is the founder of the Personal Branding Blog, and publisher of Personal Branding Magazine.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC recently published #FixYoungAmerica: How to Rebuild Our Economy and Put Young Americans Back to Work (for Good), a book of 30+ proven solutions to help end youth unemployment.