When doing orientation sessions for APPLICA's Brand-Builder Dashboard, a question often comes up when customizing the branding choices: Should I be using my personal name or my company name? Like so many marketing decisions, the answer is important and is not clear-cut (unless of course your company name IS your personal name!).
This decision affects many aspects of branding, such as: where to use a personal picture rather than a company logo; what to show for "compliments of"; and what email address and alias to use. In the near-term, the choice can drive the competitive advantage of your business. And longer-term, the choice can have a significant impact on the residual value of your business, well after you have climbed your last ladder.
So how to decide personal vs. company branding for your inspection business?
There are several factors that should be considered when making this important decision for your business.
Company Size. Just because you have a large multi-inspector business, doesn't automatically dictate that you shouldn't be leveraging personal branding. Think about examples such as Bob Vila and This Old House, or Steve Jobs and Apple, or Warren Buffet and Berkshire Hathaway. For all of these very large corporations, the person's brand is considered a critical part of the marketing and branding of the business.
Glide Path. If your time horizon to retirement can be counted on one hand, now is probably not a good time to be promoting yourself as the face of the company, especially if your goal includes maximizing the residual value of your business. But on the other hand, if your best years are still ahead, personal branding is a viable option.
Role Comfort. And regardless of your company size and glide path to retirement, some consideration needs to be given to your comfort in the role of being the face of the company. If you are uncomfortable having your picture splashed across marketing materials, then personal branding is probably not a good choice for you.
MAKING IT WORK
Regardless of your decision, you want it to be successful and there are several ways to support this.
Be Consistent. Whether you go the personal branding route or the company branding route, you will want to carry it through across all of your marketing channels. So for example, if you are using personal branding for your eNewsletters (personal picture, your name in the sending email address, etc.), then you will want your personal branding to be included with your website. Otherwise, you can be sowing seeds of confusion when your subscribers come to your website and the branding seems to be different than your eNewsletter. And in the worst case, it could have them wondering if they have found a completely different company.
Own It. Whichever choice you make, you will want to be all in with your decision. If you've decided to go with the personal branding approach, then be sure to use high quality, professional photos. Selfies are fine for family and friends, but your business deserves better. And similarly, if you go with the company branding approach, you'll want to have professional looking logos that are high enough resolution so that they display sharp and crisp on any screen size.