Building a culture of confident personal brands: What’s in it for the business AND the employee?

by Julissa Shrewsbury, New Work Consulting 

“Personal branding, done well, is about understanding how you INFLUENCE other people’s opinions of you, in person and online, and then implementing tools to AMPLIFY YOUR VALUE in their eyes, in ways that feel AUTHENTIC to you and RESONATE with your audience.”

– J.Shrewsbury 2019, The Powerful Personal Brand: Amplify your profile, communicate your value and own your space.

In my work with organisations on how their people express the brand, I regularly come across the same dilemmas:

  • Asking a staff member about the company brand gets me a blank look or a memorised, meaningless response.
  • The overarching business objective is unclear to the individual… who really does want to help.
  • Individuals know they need to have a professional presence but often lack a clear goal to drive their approach.
  • Individuals fail to present as confident professionals at introductions or first impressions.

A brand is not a logo. It is not your website or your company colours. A brand is a set of core messages about who you are, what you do, how you do it and why. There are many, many ways your brand is expressed, and this is primarily through your people, both in person and online – their personal brands.

After all, people still do business with people. Particularly for service-based businesses (but not exclusively), your people are the most significant vehicle for powerful brand expression. What they say and do at every touch point with your customer, stakeholders and wider audience, has a big impact on how people see your brand.

The challenge for businesses is to first assess where there may be gaps in how connected your people feel to your brand, how clear it is to them, and how well they express it in their day-to-day work. This enquiry should involve some frank discussions with your people at every level of the organisation, including asking some tough questions! It is also important to assess how confident, clearly positioned, and visible your people are – particularly with regards the personal brands of client-building teams.

Then it’s about prioritising time and resources towards addressing those gaps. If people are going to be empowered to represent themselves and the company brand with confidence and impact, they need to be clear on the brand and what it means to them. And they need to have the opportunity to reflect on their personal brand positioning and how they represent that, too.

The questions I sometimes hear at this point are:

  •  How do I get buy-in from my people? Why would they want to work on their personal brands in relation to the company brand?
  • If I develop the personal brands of my people... will they leave?

My work with teams on developing their personal brands usually starts with creating motivation among the staff members involved. I find that awareness of this area of personal development and its benefits to the individual needs to be the starting point.

In addition, boards, leadership and heads of department also need to understand the benefits to the organisation of developing a culture of confident personal brands.

Here are just a few of these benefits:

You can see how a benefit to the individual on one side correlates with a benefit to the company on the other side. It truly is a win-win... and this is what I regularly witness working with teams and individuals within organisations. Most people truly want to be part of working towards the business goals and to present themselves well, but experience ‘gaps’ in confidence and the knowledge they need to achieve this.

 And to address the second (less common) question: If you are worried that developing your people will cause them to move on... you need to look at your mindset! Yes, they may leave... but don’t you want them to be the most effective team members they can be, representing your brand in the best possible light... while they are with you? And perhaps you will find that showing support for their personal professional development while working on a more aligned organisational brand culture will keep your staff happy and committed to working with you for a very long time...

Your next steps…

•             What can you go ahead and initiate tomorrow?

•             What strategy pieces do you need to discuss AND when will you do that?

•             What can you do to lead by example?

•             Where might you need further support?

For more information about the contents of this article, please contact Julissa  at 

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