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A quick Google search will bring you thousands of books, podcasts, articles, online courses, and free tips and tricks for creating personal brands. When searching for "How do I create a personal brand?" Showing roughly two million results, and there are just as many reasons why creating a personal brand is important. What isn't so likely to come up is how personal branding affects businesses.
The typical thinking around personal branding refers exclusively to the individual. It involves creating a persona, mostly through social media platforms, that consists of education, certifications, and awards. Most business people answer branding questions that suggest their backgrounds show what they have to offer – their worth. While it's important, it's even more important to tell the story of the impact your background has on the lives of others. In other words, it should be specifically designed so that others can see that a connection needs to be made.
The added value of employee stories
While companies invest millions of dollars in creating and building their brands to advance the company's purpose and vision both internally and externally, most employee stories cannot be used for the benefit of the company. Many company websites still have mandatory Our Team or Meet the Team tabs that highlight members of the company's executive team. Gone are the days, however, when the website was the only place where this information is researched by prospects, talent, and business partners.
Personal branding is about evoking emotion in others – telling stories that can help others survive and thrive, and help them feel connected to your brand. Compelling stories go a long way towards building trust.
Related: Great storytelling is the secret to making your advertising stand out from the crowd
With increasing transparency, the most strategic companies are offering guidelines to employees on how to present their stake in the company. Every time an employee talks about the company or publishes their stake in the company online, they contribute to the company's history. When encouraged to share their personal stories by speaking on behalf of the company with customers, at conferences, in Zoom meetings, or anywhere else, they are building their own value as an asset and doing the same for the entire company. When these stories are well done, they have the potential to transform others. Once the transformation is triggered, it builds credibility and authority for the employee. This leads to an increased commitment and commitment of the employees to the corporate vision and ultimately to a positive brand awareness for the company. The positive personal branding of the employees creates endless opportunities to attract great talents for the company.
Personal branding efforts pose no threat to the company. Nobody can resist a great story. Stories help grow the business. People love stories. People remember stories. People share stories. Why? As humans, we are hardwired to tell stories. Stories create emotional reactions or connections between people. How your employees portray their stake in your company can be just as or more influential than your marketing.
People want to do business with people. Organizations are made up of people. Word of mouth is generally responsible for driving $ 6 trillion in annual consumer spending – it accounts for about 13% of consumer sales.
When leaders allow, or even encourage, their employees to tell great stories, they reap the benefits of a more engaged workforce. Dedicated teams are more profitable. According to a 2017 Gallup study The right culture: Not just employee satisfactionTeams that rank below the top 20% in engagement experience a 41% reduction in absenteeism and 59% lower revenue. Dedicated employees show themselves every day with passion, purpose, presence and energy. Employee engagement is the future of branding. Attract managers who treat employees as their own stakeholders and the future of the company. Supporting an individual's efforts to create a personal brand is a means of opportunity when done right.
Balanced personal and corporate branding
The retired Chief People Officer of one of the Great Place to Work® Canada recognized organizations was asked about her experience building personal brands within an organization. The question was, “Why are employers afraid to encourage their teams to build personal brands within a company?” Your answer? "It's about finding the right balance between self-promotion and the company's interests. There is a fine line between an employee promoting their individual awards and a presentation of the work of the team and the thought leadership or intellectual property of the company For example, we had a high performing employee who was continually tracking and collecting awards. Early on it was a huge recognition for both the employee and the organization. However, over time it took on a life of its own and we needed to be more thoughtful and strategic In this case, we eventually asked the employee to stop applying for rewards because the pile had become genuinely selfish and their skills were being misrepresented with no benefit to the company. "
When clear expectations are set not only for the individual but also for the organization, everyone can be more strategic about their efforts and the expected benefits. A chief technology officer in another organization shared an overwhelming reluctance to change his LinkedIn profile. He loves where he works and didn't want the organization to misinterpret the intent of an updated message as a solicitation to apply for a position with a competing organization.
When communication between organizations and employees is precise and clear about personal branding strategy and guidelines are in place, employees can feel that the companies they work for go way beyond that in meeting their job requirements go out.
According to a report by Hinge Marketing, 79% of companies surveyed said they had increased online visibility after implementing a formal employee advocacy program. 65 percent indicated increased brand awareness.
Related: Why Personal Branding Must Be Your First Focus
Establishing brand guidelines
What could a well-designed and collaborative framework or set of guidelines look like? If you will, it's a training manual that will help you create great personal branding stories within the company that create opportunities for both the person and the company.
Brand identity guidelines help employees understand how they should or should not represent the brand both inside and outside of work. By providing guidance and guidelines on acceptable behavior, employees think twice about doing something online if they fear it will cost them their job.
Include a section in the branding guide designed to develop employees' personal branding, much like PWC and Deloitte do. They use workbooks to define the brand of the company and workshops to help employees. They offer conversation starters. Well-designed guidelines fuel employee efforts by providing video and graphics facilities that they can use to share and control the message online. Their stories involve getting the organization's messages across correctly.
Shed light on branding opportunities
Unfortunately, proper policy setting and encouragement to link employee stories to corporate branding are not given due attention. Invest 15 minutes on a number of global company websites and search the About The Team or Our Team pages. You will often see an obsessive focus on these profiles. Then view the profiles of the same people on a platform like LinkedIn. You will seldom see a broadcast of the same story or message. If you think about it, most corporate websites never see the traffic that a social media platform like Linkedin has, but nonetheless, so much time, money, and resources are being spent on the profiles on the team pages and none on the individual pages and often not linked to the company's LinkedIn profile page.
Numbers don't lie. The average LinkedIn profile receives 222 views. Multiply that by the number of employees in your organization and the opportunity is clear. Team profile pages do not receive the views that Team Linkedin has on individual profile pages.
Where should an organization direct its focus? The focus should be on helping employees focus their branding efforts for the benefit of the company and empowering them individually for the company greater good.
Related: Stop chasing customers with "Pick Me" posts and other desperate tactics
Organizations need to take the time and allocate resources to better create policies and frameworks to better support all employees in the organization and, in the right way, to create personal brands that are profitable for everyone.
Whether you're a CEO, entrepreneur, executive, or someone with a message to share, there are many benefits to establishing a personal brand for you and the company.