Branding and business go hand-in-hand. When you think of a company, the first thoughts that typically come to mind are brand-related—its name, logo, or messaging. Your brand is what makes you instantly recognizable to your audience, differentiates you from your competition, and communicates your unique voice and identity. As a business owner, you have 2 brands to work with: your personal brand and business brand. So, which brand is more important? Keep reading to learn more about building personal and business brands and whether it makes sense to focus on 1 or both. Why Should You Build a Personal Brand? Today’s entrepreneurs often devote resources to building their personal identity within an industry. The buzzword “thought leadership” gets thrown around a lot when discussing personal brands. The crux of this term: if you’re able to position yourself as an expert in an industry, then you can bring in more clients to your business, provide additional revenue streams for yourself—and improve your chances of life after your company, if it were to fail. Let’s dive a little further into why many entrepreneurs choose to prioritize their personal brands. \tYou don’t intend to stay with your business forever. If you plan to build your company up and sell it, you might want an identity that isn’t always linked to that business. \tYou want to launch and develop multiple businesses. By putting your personal brand first, you can market yourself as a mogul with a line of successful companies. \tYou want to grow your speaking career or authorship. If you plan to publish a book or speak at conferences, you need to have a recognizable personal brand. \tYou operate a 1-person business. Artists, photographers, sole proprietors, and other freelancers often have more success in marketing their own names than the business entities they operate under. Essentially, consider your long-term goals. If you plan to grow out of your business and continue on to new ventures, you may want to allocate energy to growing your personal brand. Why Should You Maintain a Business Brand? Whether you want to focus on it or not, if you have a business entity, you have a brand to manage. This reality is especially true for small businesses managing their brand online. If you’re not working to manage and maintain your company’s brand, you risk letting public opinion and online reviews dictate how others perceive your business. Branding your business can start with a name and logo, but it goes so much further today. Now, businesses need a website, a social media presence, and profiles on review sites like Yelp, Google Business, and Bing Places for Business. Moreover, effective branding requires a uniform identity and messaging across all these channels in addition to frequent activity relative to your industry or competition. There are many benefits to growing a business brand—some of which include: \tBusiness brands are easier to identify. You can put your product or service in your brand name, so customers immediately know what you do. \tNew customers can find your business easier. By investing in your business brand, customers can find your company’s name on social media, through search engines, and on review sites. \tBusiness brands can become a pillar in the community. Businesses have a huge impact on their surrounding area. If you’re able to build a strong business brand, you’ll find quality talent easier to hire, and you’re likely to have a positive financial effect on the area in which you operate. \tYou can build up brand value for your company. If you plan to sell your business within a few years, you can build up its name recognition and perceived value, which can appeal to investors. (For example, the Yahoo brand continues to have value as a media company because of its recognizable name.) If you operate a business, you need to consider its brand. Even if you want to prioritize your personal brand, neglecting your business brand can be detrimental. A poor business brand image can make new sales harder, decrease repeat business, and impact your ability to find and retain talent. Is a Business Brand or Personal Brand More Important? It depends. For example, freelance writers can make a case for prioritizing their personal brand over their business—if they have one. Building their personal identity within an industry can make it easier to land future writing work, and it will add credibility and value to their name when negotiating rates. However, most entrepreneurs would be wise to prioritize a business brand because it tends to offer less resistance. A business can brand itself however it wants—you control the name, logo, messaging, and identity. This flexibility often makes it easier for you to define and manage a business brand. Moreover, you can scale branding for a business much easier through branding tools, dedicated staff, or outsourced partners. The better question to ask yourself is “how can I do both?”—there’s value in growing a business and personal brand simultaneously. Maybe you want to use your keynote speech at an industry conference to plug your business and attract new clients, or maybe you want to build a massive business brand that will add credence to any efforts you undertake to build your personal brand. While there is a significant overlap in tactics to promote any brand (personal or business), your marketing efforts need to address who—or what—you’re trying to promote, and why, before you can start developing a promotional plan. Once you’ve formulated a strategy, remain steadfast in your efforts: building a brand takes time, money, and a lot of commitment. There is no right answer to whether you should invest in your personal or business brand. In all likelihood, you’ll do a combination of both. Along with allocating funds to the marketing and promotion of your business, you’ll also set aside resources to build your personal name. With the right balance, you can grow your business while making a name for yourself, too.