We're Erica + Jon, professional photographers, Mr + Mrs and Mom + Dad. We like to share insights into our industry, behind the scenes and stories about our life and chips + salsa obsession.
In our experience working with brands, we’ve come to classify brands in two ways: Personal Brands and Business Brands. As many different brands and businesses we’ve worked with from local mom and pop shops to large national brands and household names, all of them fall neatly into one of the two categories. So which one are you? You may not have asked yourself this question before. Or, maybe you have but you aren’t sure if you were right when you gave yourself the answer. Often times, us creatives can get a little confused on this topic, so today we’re breaking down personal brands and business brands for your creatives and showing you why you’re likely a personal brand.
First, lets make sure we’re all on the same page with what the differences are between a personal brand and a business brand.
Personal brands are all about the person behind the brand. You may instantly think of bloggers and social media influencers – and you’d be right. But there are waaaaay more businesses that fall under personal brands than that group alone. Even service based brands fall under this category depending on their set up. For example, our own business, Erica + Jon Photography, is 100% a personal brand! Our service is brand photography, but our brand is completely built around the two of us. It’s even one of the things our clients big and small comment on when reviewing their experience with us…the personal aspect of it. When we talk about our business with prospective clients, we don’t say, ‘We here at Erica + Jon Photography will do such and such…” Not only does that sound a bit pretentious, but it completely removes one of the most powerful parts of our business….US! Bottom line: if removing the person/people from the brand also removes the brand’s relevance, it’s a personal brand.
Now let’s think about business brands for a minute. We’d label any business that is build around a product or service as the forward personality of the brand as a business brand. As an example, let’s consider Apple. When you think of Apple, what do you think of? It’s likely not Tim Cook or the late Steve Jobs. More than likely, you thought of an iPhone or a MacBook or iPad. Tim Cook and Steve Jobs are incredibly important pieces within the Apple brand and are public figures in a much larger sense than most other brands like them (<—Can you name the CEO of Dell Computers? HP? Our point exactly). But they still aren’t the BRAND. Apple as a brand stands on its own, so we’d label it a business brand. It is and would be totally appropriate for a marketing line from Apple to say, “We here at Apple do such and such…” Bottom line: If the product or service is the face of the brand, it’s a business brand.
So which type of brand are you? Our opinion…if you are a creative entrepreneur, you’re most likely a personal brand. We realized this about ourselves years ago and decided to double down on our own personalities as the face of our brand rather than a brand name. We get more engagement on social posts when we talk about ourselves or show behind the scenes. Our names are even in the business name! People connect most powerfully with us when we relate as humans, not as photographers. Classify us 100% as a personal brand.
If you’re still stuck, we’ve provided a few questions that should help make this super clear for your brand.
Do customers refer to your product/service or you when they think about your business?
When people talk about our business, they talk about us as Erica + Jon first, photographers second. How do people talk about your business? Are you defined by the product or service you sell, or does your personality give you the superpowers that keep your business selling through relationships?
Do people react more to posts online about your product/service or about you?
When we post behind the scenes photos of our shoots or talk about our personal lives and journey as entrepreneurs, people engage and relate! When we show posts of our recent work, our engagement is often much lower – not because of the quality of our work, but because people have a more difficult time relating to beautifully styled product photos than they do us as individuals. What does your engagement look like? Not sure? Do a little test to see what type of post gets you the most engagement!
What is the name of your business?
Ok, this one is pretty straightforward, but it’s a no-brainer! If your name is in the business name, you are most likely a personal brand!
We hope this helps clear up any confusion about how you position your brand to your audience. Stick with us next week as we unpack the 3 Best Ways to Market a Personal Brand Online!