• Geoff & Drew – A thought-provoking blog post.

    A strong corporate brand and personal brand can coexist peacefully. How? By being clear about both brands internally and externally. Working at a company with a strong brand can actually help an individual build theirs – in a “guilty by association” kind of way.

    An employee who is clear on their own strengths and goals and works with those intentions in mind can help to build a corporate brand. Not by competing for the limelight but by continually reinforcing the corporate brand (Ex: Look at Zappos social media approach).

    Building ones’ personal brand is done little by little each day. It’s not necessarily an external show of who you are. It’s especially in the little things, behind closed doors that matters.

  • Oh, Geoff. There is so much I could say on this subject from personal experience… On second thought, there’s so much I *can’t* say on this subject. My better judgment prevails, as usual.

    So I guess I’ll just stick with, “YES. Absolutely, yes. Unequivocally, yes.”

    Building a social media program on one person’s “personal brand” is building a house of cards. Eventually, it’s going to tumble, and it’s *hard damn work* rebuilding things, because you have to overcome the “we got burned” stigma.

    You can’t just do the fundamentals well (which is hard enough). You have to be amazing and above reproach.

    Thanks for this post.

  • Good post Geoff. I’ve actually seen this happen at places. I wouldn’t completely pass the blame on the sole individual building the digital brand of the company but maybe holding the organization as a whole accountable as well. If that person is socially savvy enough, it’s up to them to communicate the importance of making social media a “team sport” to the organization and institute change in that regard.

    However, what if the organization refuses to learn the team concept? Is it possible for a personal brand and an organizational brand to peacefully co-exist?

    This post echoed thoughts that have been tucked away in my mind for some time now. Thanks for this.

  • Rachel: well said. Good points for personal/corporate brand co-existence. Your points are actions I’ve tried to embark on working with my current employer. Thanks for the response!

  • Rachel: Frankly, I don’t believe in personal brands. I believe in personal reputation. A brand is something completely different. When I hear someone tell me their personal brand can co-exist with a company, I sense an over-developed sense of self importance.

  • I do believe personal brands exist, but largely as part of the entertainment industry. Martha Stewart is a personal brand–it’s a legitimate brand based on an individual’s personal mark.

    “Brand” equates much more directly to the word “product” than to “reputation.” (Which is what I think Geoff is driving at).

    Copyblogger is an information product with a recognizable brand in web marketing circles. Brian Clark and Sonia Simone have solid reputations as a marketers in those same circles. But Brian has capably passed off editorial responsibility for Copyblogger to Sonia, and she could do the same, and the product would still retain value as an asset, as long as quality remains consistent.

    I’ve seen too many examples where a person becomes the product, and a person doesn’t scale.

  • Geoff, very valid argument and I hope you’re having a great summer. I believe everything comes down to the individual personality and goal alignment. If you’re obsessed with your company, and share similar goals, then you’ll act differently than if you’re looking to start a company in the near future.

  • Hm.
    Well, yes, those are all dangers. Equally, having the “giant faceless brand” has it’s own dangers – whereas “personal brands” (ugh I hate that term) can also have some upsides (see Lee Ioccoca & Chrysler 1980’s for example.)
    It’s a thought-provoking article though Geoff – as usual! :) Thanks.


  • Geoff: Thanks for the post, and for the mention within it. I agree with Dan’s comment. Individual personality and goal alignment is an important factor.

    For me personally, it’s been pretty straightforward really. Back in 2006, it was clear that social media (and Dell’s role within it) was much bigger than me as an individual. In those early days, though the team was small, there were still folks I could count on.

    Without the work those people have done (and continue to do), there’s no way we would have been as successful as we’ve been on the social media front.

    I’ve been fortunate to have that support from the beginning. I’m also fortunate that my skill set aligns with the needs of the job pretty closely. Sometimes a little luck never hurts. :)

    Thanks again Geoff, hope you’re doing well.


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