Recently, I read a post by Jeremiah Owyang about Personal vs Career brands. He said that he sees there being a difference between a personal brand (the focus on ME) and a career brand (still from me, but the focus on WE). His post came out at just about the same time that I had had a mind shift around my own branding.
No longer do I see my individual brand as having to be separate from that of my employer’s. Previously, if I wanted to work on my brand, it was for me alone. Many people are in situations where: their employers do not allow them to participate in the company’s online brand (blogging, tweeting, etc), their work situation is too strict to allow them to talk about what the WE at work does, etc. I have been in those situations as well.
The mind shift came when I realized that I had been empowered to talk about the WE. I don’t need, nor want, a potential future client or employer to look at my blog, Linkedin profile, or whatever else and say, “Wow, look at what Eric has done.” Instead, I would rather they look at what Grizzard has done or become and see that I was there to help because the reality of it is that very little of what happens in a company is the result of a single person.
This is one reason that I have not been active on my blog in the last few months. I have been focused on Grizzard, working with our account teams and digital team to demonstrate what our brand really stands for, and while my face can be attached to some of that, I am happy to not be the only one. I am happy to work with a group on people that share the same goals and interests.
How many personal branders can say they work on their brands as a team? Not many, right? When I was working on only my personal brand previously, I would have written my blog posts or carried out my specific work and strategies and only afterward asked my colleagues for input. But now, when I work on my brand, I bring my ideas to a team, and only the best ideas from the group of us are realized.
Is a career brand mindset better than a personal brand mindset? No. I have no doubt that, if I was successful at building a strong personal brand, I would see more money, job opportunities, etc than I would if I worked on a career brand. BUT, the likelihood of me succeeding at building a brand is much higher if I work on a career brand because I can focus on what WE do, what WE believe, and what WE have accomplished. In the end, I’m pretty sure that the best ideas and the best work from a group will be better than those of one person.
When it comes down to it, would you feel more satisfied if you had built up a successful project outside of work and the thought in a reader’s, viewer’s, recipient’s mind was “Eric did that” or if you had done it inside work and the thought was “Eric did that while he was at Grizzard”? Honestly, I would prefer the latter especially given the likelihood of success. You?