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Should You Brand Yourself? It Depends

Many small business owners ask whether or not they should use their name as the brand for their company and if they should invest in doing so, or if they should perhaps use their name as the company name and brand both simultaneously. Branding has always been an important concept for a business. We all know and remember many brands because of intense advertising and marketing. In fact, when successful, the brand itself becomes significantly valuable, separate and distinct from the company that is promoting it. All branding really means is promoting a name to be identified with a product or company. You can brand yourself and have a different trade name for the company-it is simply a dual marketing objective. So, when does it make sense to use your name as both the brand and the company name?

The answer actually depends upon the individual. If you intend to brand yourself, then you are committing to being very visible, very important, and very recognizable. You become the company. If you have the personality to handle this then go for it, it will bring dividends. If you have the desire to be very visible, and to be identified as the lead man, then brand yourself, it will work for you. Think of Oprah or Martha Stewart. If you do not have the personality to support such exposure then it is probably not a good idea for you or your business. Branding calls attention to either the name of your business or your identity as an individual. If you are the heart and soul of the business, the personality, "the man"... then yes, brand yourself and have the company be you. The same evaluation should be made of your expertise and skill. If you have it and are the driving force in the business, then you can successfully brand yourself. If not, branding yourself is not the best idea. Branding yourself will pay dividends when you do business as you will have elevated your status to a brand name and be constantly carrying the message wherever you go.

Of course, this begs the question of what happens when you sell the business and are no longer involved? It's a very good question with no good answer. Many businesses are mature enough to support such a transition without loss. A less mature business will lose some followers when the main man leaves. It really depends on how successful the underlying business is. If you are delivering a quality product or service, losing the branded lead person will have a smaller effect. If your company has not yet solidified itself in its primary function as a provider of goods or services, the name may play a more important role and greater losses may be experienced in that transition. If the company is all about you and only you, greater losses will be experienced when a transition is carried out.

In the end, I believe there is probably way too much analysis and far too many exceptions. I would recommend a simple test: If you are the business and you have the personality to promote, brand yourself, whether or not the business uses the same name or a different name. It is a strategy that works either way, and the risk factor is very low. The only real advice I can offer is that there may be value in branding yourself but only if you are prepared to handle the prominence and fame that comes with it and will use it to promote your business. If this works for you then do it because it will support your success in the long run. Take the leap-marketing is very important and branding is an important part of marketing.

In the end, there are no bad decisions. If done well, branding helps generate success.