Personal Brand vs. Business Brand

My new ivory paper co planner, personal brand vs. business brand

We’re talking personal brand vs. business brand this week, and I’ve got a free brand planning tool for you below, so keep reading to get the download link.

Why Does Personal Brand Matter?

People want to feel like others “get” them. If you’re a small business owner, this means you will have an easier time cultivating relationships with buyers if they feel like they have a genuine connection to you. For your audience to make that kind of connection with you, they need to get to know you a bit. That’s why it’s important to consider personal brand vs. business brand.

My new 2023 planner is a perfect example of seamless personal and business branding. I’ve ordered an Ivory Paper Co. planner (not sponsored) for three years now. I’m obsessed.  

A glimpse of my planner.

This year, there was a slight difference in my planner. Ivory Paper Co. owner Alitzah Stinson added a first page that personally thanks buyers for choosing IPC. It shows pictures of her staff and her beautiful family. It shares her perspective on why she chooses to make her planners in North America.

So real talk: this is the best planner I’ve ever used. Honestly, I don’t care if it’s handmade by captive endangered baby koalas; I’ll still buy one. However, I’m even more invested knowing I’m supporting a small business, particularly one owned by a young woman of colour. Because Alitzah is willing to be open about who she is and what she stands for, she is able to fold her personal brand into her business brand seamlessly.

ivory paper company owner alitzah stinson
This “thank you” page is a great blend of personal and business brand.

Small Business Branding

This is a superpower for small businesses. We can’t compete with Walmart or Coca-Cola on budget or brand recognition, but our position as “regular folks” is a huge advantage.

Big companies try to pretend they’re “regular folks” all the time. You may have seen the ads with billionaire grocery chain heir Galen Weston Jr., wearing a folksy sweater and talking to us like a neighbour. This is a stark contrast with his actual persona, which BlogTO recently referred to as “bespectacled oligarch.” From a marketing perspective, it makes sense to capitalize on the trust that comes from forging a business relationship with a human rather than, say, a fourth-generation rich kid and billionaire who admitted to illegally fixing the price of bread.

Authenticity is Key

The reason being relatable doesn’t work for GW Junior is because he, um, isn’t relatable. We know it’s an act. He’s pretending to share the concerns of average citizens, but he has a net worth of about eight billion dollars, while the country’s average net worth is $329,900.

So yeah. He is pretty far from “average,” and his ads don’t have nearly as much impact as Alizah’s heartfelt “thank you” page.

This is why it’s worth considering your purpose, your personal brand, your business’s brand and your offer’s brand. 

READ THIS LATER: If you don’t have time to read this article right now, you can download the PDF version to your phone or computer and read it when you have time later.

Personal Brand vs. Business Brand

When considering your personal brand vs. business brand, it’s important to remember they don’t have to be identical; they just shouldn’t clash.

purple nesting dolls

I like to think of these aspects of brand as a set of nesting dolls. In the middle, you have your purpose. For example, Alitzah describes how important gratitude is in her life and how she is on a mission to revitalize North American manufacturing. Your values fit inside your personal brand, which in Alitzah’s case, includes being a mom and a proud Ohioan, and a fan of girly prints and colours. Your personal brand qualities should nest inside your company’s overarching brand, which for Alitzah, is evident in the design of her planners and Ivory Paper Co.’s headquarters, called “The Pink House.” Finally, each offer you create should have an articulated brand. By “offer,” I mean anything from a new product, a new service package, a new discount promotion or an event.

Brand Brainstorming

I think identifying a brand is really fun, but some people find it daunting. The most important thing to remember is there are no wrong answers. Whatever you say represents your brand is correct because the most essential quality is authenticity.

I made a tool to help you if you’re stuck. My Brand-Building Brainstorm worksheet has a massive list of prompts to help you figure out your purpose, your personal brand and how those mesh with your business brand. It’s a fillable PDF, so you can either edit the worksheet directly or you can print it out. Happy brainstorming!

picture of author bridget brown