How personal branding affects business

Not so long ago, employees were nameless cogs. It was the corporate identity that mattered – its name and logo printed and chanted across media channels, a bullseye to both acclaim and damnation. But if Trumps’ brand influenced a nation, it’s fair to say that personal branding can shape business too – that the individual can trump (…) the whole.

Cultivating an enduring personal brand is made possible by the many social media channels – not least LinkedIn – and digital permanence. We remember names. When we see an individual’s work, or something they’ve created, we identify with their name over the company they represent. Whilst a company may have a lease on an individual’s time, we exist and grow separate to our jobs. We’re no longer subsumed by collective tags and our names aren’t substituted for job roles.

The notion that staying put within a single company is a virtue has collapsed in recent times, and rightfully so. What was once referred to as loyalty has been demasked as apathy, if not cowardice. Tenacious individuals go from company to company – opportunity to opportunity – to self-improve and oil their personal brand. Well, we say tenacious, but it’s more like common sense once fear and anxiety have been eliminated. A single company can’t do much for us bar bestowing a life-time service badge upon retirement; these days, we can do a great deal more for ourselves. We’re the product.

Companies are mercurial. They rise and fall; and we slip in and out of favour with those in control. That’s what the 21st century wave of entrepreneurialism has squashed – the passiveness that said it’s OK to not be in control, and the adherence to structurally weak hierarchies. Fewer of us let others decide our fate or play with our value.

We now have the tools to dictate our value – which has a far longer shelve life (as long as we’re still breathing). We take our value with us where we go, enthusing our environment and seeding our reputation.  

The relationship between individual and business has changed. We’re the influencer, not the influencee. Back to our earlier name drop, the current President of the United States has two webs of influences: Trump’s and America’s. Traditionally, the POTUS role swallows the individual – but the presidential seat is an extension of Trump’s power rather than the base of it.

The change is pretty remarkable. 21st century marketing is about engagement – and how better to engage than as an individual. It’s why companies want to be your best friend; it’s why we’re trying to be our customers’ best friends. Conversational dialogues attach a name and face to a message. Trump’s most frequented platform wasn’t the speech podium; it was Twitter. He wasn’t representing the Republicans or even America – he was representing himself, his personal homely, humanized brand, which obviously paid off.

The power of personal branding has influenced the business world. It’s made organizations want to be able to spark a conversation. For each of us, we have an unprecedented opportunity to build ourselves beyond any four walls or corporate name. We have countless digital channels, many of which are interconnected, that don’t suffer atrophy. Each contribution we make is an accretion to a structure capable of weathering external forces. If we stay at one company for years and years, we have one block. If we make many contributions simultaneously, and stick to it overtime, our foundations are solid and enduring.