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BY CHRISTINE WETZLER, EDITED BY KARA MCINTYRE

Encouraging and supporting your employees in their personal branding efforts is not just a strategy for individual growth, but it’s also a forward-thinking business approach to elevate your company in a competitive market.

Key Takeaways

  • A total of 81% of consumers admitted that their trust in a brand significantly influences their purchasing decisions, with 77% preferring to buy from brands they follow on social media.

  • The reputation and credibility of a company’s CEO and employees sway the buying choices of 65% of consumers.

  • For a corporate brand to truly resonate and lead to tangible sales results, the personal brands within it need to be strong and clearly defined.

The intersection of personal branding and corporate success is increasingly apparent as we experience a revival of person-to-person connection. Traditionally, individual and corporate branding have been seen as separate entities, each with its strategies and goals, and at times, they may even appear to be in direct conflict. However, a significant shift is underway due to the growing demand for personalization.

Companies are finding that leveraging the individual brand strengths of their employees can achieve greater reach and awareness. A staggering 81% of consumers admit that their trust in a brand significantly influences their purchasing decisions, with 77% preferring to buy from brands they follow on social media.

The impact remains robust across both B2B and B2C sectors. Interestingly, the reputation and credibility of a company’s CEO and employees sway the buying choices of 65% of consumers. These statistics underscore a crucial point: Brand credibility plays a significant role in sales efforts. For a corporate brand to truly resonate and lead to tangible sales results, the personal brands within it need to be strong and clearly defined.

Having been immersed in communications since the late 1900s (and yes, I find it amusing to say that), I’ve witnessed many branding evolutions — from the advent of email to the rise of social media and, now, artificial intelligence. However, in my view, no technological advancement can ever replace meaningful human interaction; it only redefines what sales groups consider meaningful. You can use AI to generate leads, but if they aren’t the right fit or meaningful to your business, do they truly count? The key lies in a strong corporate brand that invites individuals to join in its journey.

There is a synergy between personal and corporate branding

The above concept isn’t new. We’ve all seen or worked with a “unicorn” employee at some point. What makes them a unicorn? Their individual brand. When employees establish strong personal brands, they bring authenticity and a human touch to the corporate narrative, making the company more relatable and trustworthy in the eyes of consumers.

This synergy not only enhances the company’s reputation but also drives engagement in the places where employees are active—be it in community events, on social media, or among their friends. Employees with robust personal brands naturally amplify the company’s visibility and influence. They become the ‘unicorns’ who direct qualified leads to your company. A LinkedIn social selling study even measured this phenomenon, finding that 92% of B2B customers are more willing to engage with sales reps who are recognized as industry thought leaders.

Encouraging personal brand development without losing control

Many businesses struggle with the idea of encouraging employees to amp up their personal brand, fearing it will diminish the quality of their messaging or they might lose control of their corporate story. Before I share a few tactical strategies to address this, I want to emphasize that your corporate brand must be solid and credible for this to be effective.

A strong corporate brand provides a stable backdrop against which individual employee brands can shine. It offers a cohesive narrative that aligns with the personal stories your employees are telling. Before you encourage your employees to engage in their own branding exercises, it is crucial to conduct some branding exercises at the corporate level. This ensures that your brand welcomes collaboration and instils a sense of pride in everyone associated with it.

You want all individuals to feel positive about being openly associated with your company. These characteristics are essential for personal branding efforts to be effective. Otherwise, you might end up helping individuals build their personal brands, only for them to take that strength to another company that is already well-positioned.

How to get the strongest individual brands without sacrificing consistency

The most fundamental way to maintain control of your corporate messaging while promoting individual branding efforts is to ensure a strong alignment between the company’s values and the personal values of your employees. Here’s how you can accomplish this without compromising the company’s branding efforts:

Define clear guidelines that outline how employees can align their branding efforts with the company’s values and objectives. This ensures consistency and prevents any potential conflicts or off-brand messaging. This is why it is important for you as a business to have your brand already developed — so you can communicate its characteristics clearly and provide guidance.

Offer training programs that help employees understand the best practices for social media and content creation, including workshops on writing, personal presentation and ethical considerations online. These can be both educational and fun, giving people permission and confidence to share your branding goals.

Encourage employees to become thought leaders in their respective fields. This can be facilitated through full support of speaking engagements, writing opportunities on industry blogs and participation in industry and online panel discussions. Thought leadership both boosts the individual’s brand and positively reflects on the company.

Highlight your employees’ achievements on your corporate channels. This will boost their personal brand and show that the company recognizes and values their contributions. One thing we have is an internal message board where examples of social posts are included with these announcements. We also send AI prompts to create social content when we ask people to share our content.

Regular monitoring and constructive feedback are essential to ensure that employees’ messaging remains aligned with the company’s brand identity. Part of our town hall team meetings focuses on the positive contributions individuals have made toward marketing. The feedback here should be consistent and mostly positive. If there is a need for redirection or negative feedback it should always be done privately and one-on-one.

Integrating personal branding into your business strategy creates a win-win scenario: Employees feel valued and empowered, which enhances their loyalty and productivity. For the company, this alignment between individual and corporate brands leads to increased trust and better relationships.

As the lines between personal and corporate branding continue to blur, companies that recognize and leverage the symbiotic relationship between personal and corporate brands will likely see the most significant growth and success. Indeed, at a minimum, they’ll encourage the curation of better relationships and more defined sales leads.

BY CHRISTINE WETZLER, 

ENTREPRENEUR LEADERSHIP NETWORK® CONTRIBUTOR

President and Founder of Pietryla PR & Marketing

Christine Wetzler is a PR and marketing strategist who knows how to generate consistent, widespread media coverage as well as offer strategic digital insights to business owners. She knows how to accurately integrate public relations, social media and digital marketing to achieve desired outcomes.

EDITED BY KARA MCINTYRE

Sourced from Entrepreneur

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