Personal Brand Is Different Than Corporate Culture

VengresoStrategy & Leadership Personal Brand Is Different Than Corporate Culture
Personal Brand is Different Than Corporate Culture

Personal Brand Is Different Than Corporate Culture

Positive Personal Brand Doesn’t Replace Corporate Culture

An employee’s conduct in the public eye is perceived as his or her personal brand. There is a lot of potential for productive personal branding when there is congruency between the employee’s conduct and the company’s culture. And, there is potential for unproductive personal branding, when there is incongruency between the employee and the employer’s company culture.

Productive Personal Branding Needs C Level Guidance

Company culture is often defined by a mix of top leadership guidance, collective conduct of its employees and how the business conducts itself in the public eye. From a corporate marketing perspective, a company should understand what its culture is as recognized by its market place.

Two brands which have defined their culture well, are Zappos and Southwest Airlines. Both are well known for their passion for customer service as well as a flair for light hearted fun and humor along the way. So, when an employee’s personal brand complements this culture, it is supportive and productive.

Another example worth examining to illustrate the importance of congruency in culture and personal branding is Apple. In the post Steve Jobs era, Apple will likely remain a company that is secretive with most topics, especially its products. Unlike the rest of the world, Apple shuns social media. You won’t find any social media buttons on the Apple website. So, employees at Apple would not be congruent in personal branding by being vocal about industry issues in the name of the company. Certainly Apple employees have as much right to use social media as the rest of us. But, due to their company culture, they must represent their own views, not those of Apple.

The company culture sets the tone for employees’ personal branding. If I worked for Apple, I would have a content strategy similar to what I have today, but I would never identify my content as an Apple employee, and I would never discuss anything pertaining to Apple.

Company Culture Guardrails

Company culture must be deliberate. It must provide employees guidelines and guardrails for use of social media in the context of their profession.

Apple is an extreme case both because of its secrecy culture and because it is such an established and successful brand. For those businesses working hard to build a brand, they will be well served to develop a corporate culture that can be supported by employee personal branding.

More Rowers in the Boat

I call this “getting more rowers in the boat.” This is the concept of content marketing by employees with subject matter expertise across the company. When most or all employees are encouraged to be brand ambassadors by sharing company content, expressing their professional opinions and generally waving the company’s culture flag, the company usually wins. The caveat of course is that the company must have employees capable of personal branding congruent with company culture. This is part art and part science.

The company culture needs to become part of the DNA of each employee. It’s not something that is communicated in policy form. Rather it’s communicated through action. This is where “leading by example” comes to life. When employees witness its leaders being ambassadors of its brand and encouraging employees to freely do so in their own personal expression, this is the ultimate in personal and corporate branding. One of the best examples of this is in HubSpot.

Personal branding and company culture are like a glove on a hand. If the fit is perfect, everything clicks and great things happen. If the fit is not good, bad things can happen that need to get addressed by management.

This is a topic that warrants attention at the CEO level. When a company CEO defines the culture and communicates it in words AND actions, then a company can expect employee personal branding to be mutually productive for the employee and for the company.

This topic interests for more than one reason. I’m teaching a two day training event entitled Personal Branding in the Corporate Workplace through the American Marketing Association. The first live event will be January 24/25, 2012 in Atlanta, GA, USA.

Bernie Borges

Bernie Borges is CMO of Vengreso, the leader in digital sales transformation. He's also Host of the award winning Modern Marketing Engine podcast. His book Marketing 2.0, was an early playbook in social media strategy. Bernie is also a trainer and speaker. He has a passion for guiding clients in aligning marketing and sales for accelerated revenue results. Bernie enjoys kayaking with his family in Tampa Bay, going to hockey games and you'll find him at the gym at 6am Monday through Friday, rain or shine.

Comments
  • Pingback: Personal Brand is Different Than Corporate Culture : Inbound …Corporate Digital Marketing | Corporate Digital Marketing
  • Great post Bernie!

    A little embarrassed to say that I didn't even realize that Apple wasn't on social media. I'm more of a PC/Droid guy but nevertheless. I totally agree that culture trickles down from the top and I've always been particularly interested in how it translates to an internet marketing presence, which you mention towards the end of your post. I actually wrote a small piece on that subject myself last week, check it out:
    http://www.brainshark.com/ideas-blog/brainshark-a

    • FindandConvert

      I must admit I haven't done extensive research on Apple's social media policy. I don't see an Apple corporate social media presence, so I drew that conclusion. I could be wrong…Your post offers a similar perspective. Thanks for sharing it.

  • John Paul

    Increasingly these days, corporate is actually pushing staff to participate, for better or worse in social media. But many people have personal lives that definitely don't reflect the business or its culture. This is causing people to create multiple online identities. It seems like people are having to create split personalities.

    This isn't a problem for the masses, but there are situations where having multiple accounts may not be beneficial to the company or the team member. How would you address individuals who want to keep corporate and personal separate in social media?

    • FindandConvert

      John Paul,
      In the scenario you described I submit that the corporate culture is not encouraging the employee to participate. When there is a strong corporate culture with examples at all levels of the organization, many of the employees will be inspired to participate. It can become "contagious" so employees want to support the corporate culture through their own brand. Those that don't, won't. My point is that a strong corporate culture will create a sizable enough population of enthusiastic and willing employees, that it won't matter if some employees don't participate.

      Does that make sense to you?
      Bernie

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