Employee Brands

Personal Brand

I’ve been listening to the latest 6 Pixels of Separation podcast “Scaling The Personal Brand With Paul Roetzer” and it plays into something I have been thinking about for some time now and have touched on before: Employee Brands.

When I think of Personal Brands it is not a world class marketing professional or a rock star that springs to mind (okay, maybe ‘rock star’ is pushing it for Justin Bieber but Mark really IS a world class marketing professional).

No, the person that appears next to “Personal Brand” in my head is Channel 4’s news anchor Jon Snow. My news channel IS Jon Snow, whether on Twitter, blog or TV. In fact, whether he works for Channel 4 News or somewhere else is of little relevance to me.

And therein lies both the power and the weakness of Personal Brands; On one hand Jon is attracting viewers, on the other hand if he leaves many go with him.

While Personal Brands have existed in some shape or form throughout human history, social media has amplified the potential for – and the power of – Personal Brands by making it very easy for anybody to build up their own Personal Brand with all the new easily accessible and deployable channels extending reach rapidly like never before.

Employee Brands; The Personal Brands in the Social Enterprise

Similarly the more social the enterprise environments become, the easier it is for employees to build a brand for themselves within the organisation. While this may go in hand with a public facing Personal Brand it is not a requirement and people with a high internal visibility may not be particularly visible in the public sphere, vice versa some who are very visible publicly may not carry the same recognition internally.

And that’s a shame. I think it is fair to assume that a person who have manage to built a brand whether internally or externally most likely have something of value that can be cross-shared between the enterprise- and the public spheres.

Just not enough time

However, the reason many chose to build a brand either internally or externally is Time.

As Mitch and Paul cover in the podcast, people who become successful Personal Brands risk becoming a victim of their own success. Suddenly they no longer have the capacity to respond to rapidly increasing number of Facebook comments, Twitter responses and other efforts to engage. Basically the successful stars no longer have time to talk to the people putting them there in the first place.

But being a Personal Brand is not easily scalable let alone maintaining both a Personal Brand AND an internal Employee Brand… After all a person is just that: One person.

This is where the Social Enterprise or more accurately: The Socially Adept Enterprise can help and benefit.

Personal Brands reflect well on the company they represent, but often this is not rewarded, supported or even encouraged.

In the same way Employee Brands run the risk of looking too active in the Social Enterprise fostering questions on their actual productivity level. This often fails to take into account that those active employees clearly are champions of the company raising both internal knowledge as well as moral and often participate even outside working hours.

Putting resources and supporting behind these Personal- and Employee Brands not only supports their efforts it also creates teams and make the endeavours powerful collaborative effort.

This has three immediate benefits:

  1. The Personal/ Employee Brand doesn’t have to stall and crash due to the pressure of success destroying any benefit (to both the Personal Brand and company) that came with the visibility.
  2. One of the potential dangers of Personal Brands is you get customers asking for named persons. With a supporting team it is easier to delegate work without the customer feeling short-changed. And that works for Employee Brands too.
  3. The Personal Brand will become reliant on the support making them less likely to move on to other opportunities which means retaining both knowledge and visibility of the person.

And this neatly brings us back to Jon Snow because at the end of the day Jon is not alone in the Channel 4 News Room. His Personal Brand is a success because of the support he has from his excellent team.

Yes, if Jon left Channel 4 i would move with him but how long would go before Jon suddenly wasn’t Jon anymore without his team? Maybe he would remain the same, but then again maybe not.

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