‘Personal brand’. It’s a word that’s been chucked around a lot in recent years, but what does it actually mean?
The definition of ‘personal branding’ is ‘the practice of marketing people and their careers as brands. It is an ongoing process of developing and maintaining a reputation and impression of an individual, group or organisation’.
In short, it’s the way you want to portray yourself to the world. It involves finding your individual style, building up a reputation and then allowing yourself to be known for those things.
What we want to know is how does this relate to business? Do brand Founders need to build their own personal brands for their businesses to flourish, or can the strength in the brand itself be enough? Let’s kick things off with looking at the pros and cons of building a personal brand.
Increased visibility online: To build your personal brand you’ll need to be consistent. Post regularly and really zero in on your own personal style. Shout about anything and everything that gets you stoked. People will be drawn in by your passion meaning more eyes and interest on you.
Trust: If you’re going to talk the talk, you’re going to need to walk the walk. Staying true to your values and being authentic will build trust in your personal brand which may then lead people to your business. You’ve got to live your values!
Leverage: Are you a pretty cool cat that has something interesting to say? Do people want to know your opinion? If so, that strength in the personal brand that you’ve built may act as leverage for opportunities with bigger brands who may have otherwise not acted on.
Pre-constructed living: You know us, we are all about adventure and sometimes, most of the time, that can be pretty spontaneous. Building a personal brand takes time and requires consistency. Focus on this may take you away from living in the moment and catching that epic swell.
Criticism: Trolls, you know the type. You’re going to need a thick skin because if you’re putting your values and beliefs out there online not everyone is going to agree. Haters gonna hate, so be prepared for some criticism.
Limits: Consistency is key with personal branding, but sticking to too many brand guidelines will mean you may limit what you can post. As we’ve seen in recent months flexibility and being able to adapt are key.
So, you can see there are pluses and minuses for building up a personal brand, so this isn’t something to rush into. If you have a presence online, Founder or not, it’s worth spending some time thinking about how you want this to come across to the outside world. To give you some inspo, here are a few founders from some of our fave brands…
Juliet Davenport is the CEO and Founder of Good Energy, a company helping to tackle the climate crisis with its 100% renewable energy. They have gone from strength to strength but has personal branding played a part? Juliet was appointed to the board of the Natural Environment Research Council in 2015, has been awarded an OBE for services to renewables, can be found taking part in talks at universities and conferences across the country and is also a spokesperson for the energy industry. In short, we think she’s epic. Personal branding shines through here with Juliet’s passion, and her love and dedication of the environment is contagious. It’s fair to say she truly lives her values!
Hugo Tagholm is the CEO of Surfers Against Sewage, a national marine conservation and campaigning charity. The charity has built its voice through its Ocean Conservation All-Party Parliamentary Group and has the power to mobilise over 100,000 community beach and river clean volunteers. Hugo is epic. He’s an award-winning campaigner, a TEDx speaker and has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science from Exeter University for his services to marine conservation. He’s also a sick surfer, which adds further validation to his cause. Hugo has become the face of the charity, and one which thousands of people all over the UK have come to know and love!
Christopher Raeburn is the Creative Director and Founder of Raeburn Design, a brand that is at the forefront of changing fashion for the better. Reworking surplus materials such as decommissioned military stock into some sweet limited edition garms and continually searching for the most sustainable materials around the globe is helping to turn the fashion world on its head. If we look to the Founder, who is also Global Creative Director of Timberland, he has previously spoken at Copenhagen Fashion Summit, regularly collaborates with brands whose values align and has even got his own wormery!
So what’s our verdict? There’s no question that if you’re heading-up a sustainable brand you need to be practising what you preach, and ensuring that your values truly shine through. Environmental sustainability can be divisive, so by ensuring you’re true to your beliefs and by creating a trustworthy, transparent brand, you’ll be able to clearly showcase your purpose.
To the outside world looking in, they see a person who is keeping it real and fighting for what they believe in… which we think is truly awesome.