Should you build a brand image on your name or should you establish a company name and brand it while you remain invisible?
I had this discussion with a young online marketer from India several months ago who wanted to stay behind a company name for his own strategic reasons. And that topic seems to come back in different forms over and over. So, I decided to touch on that as well in this post.
The Two Schools Of Thought On Branding
People from one school of thought on branding prefer to establish a company name where they want to stay anonymously behind the scene. They do so for following reasons:
- They think it will be easy to sell and walk out the company if it grows to a level where big players want to pay for it.
- If something goes wrong, they can close the company and walk out clean to go and build another company without affecting their personal identity.
- They believe it gives them a choice to start a business in any domain irrespective of their social status because nobody will know who is behind it.
And then, there are others who believe differently. People like John Maxwell, Michael Hyatt, Neil Patel and others who drive their businesses by putting themselves up front. They build their own brand name bigger than any other brand identity of any other company that they run.
People from this school of thought do so because of mostly following reasons:
- They usually start their business based on their personal credibility and they want to keep it that way even as their businesses grow.
- They want to build their personal brand as a one single point where the buck stops. They want their name to be the identity for their companies.
- They want to run many businesses. But they want all their businesses to connect back to their main brand name which they decide to build under their own name.
- They want to keep their own personal brand identity so big that whenever they start a new company, they can drive business using their main brand name just like that.
Which Style Of Branding Is More Powerful?
I would say that it depends on your goal. If you have a reason to keep yourself behind the scene, you can go with the first choice. But, if you are someone who wants to be out there, be the face of your business and become the brand that build businesses, the second choice is the best option.
But, if you are thinking that building a brand is just about creating a logo, using some awesome colors, and a fancy tag line, you are not thinking right.
Your brand identity is way more than just having a pretty website, a Facebook/Google+ page, a Twitter account and a few other social media profiles. Your brand image is a lot more than having an email address with your domain name and a toll-free number.
Engagement Only Possible With Humans Not With Machines
Have you received emails from those [email protected] type email addresses? That email address simply sends a message that the company you are dealing with doesn’t care to know what you have to say.
This type of email address also tells us that the brand is using machines instead of humans and naturally we want to avoid engagement with such a brand as much as possible. Do you want to build a brand from which people want to stay away?
If not, you need to think about ways to make your target market feel that there are human beings, real people behind the brand if they need, they can interact with one the team members. This is a very important aspect of brand establishment in today’s social media dominated world.
If you are going to be on the forefront of your business like Neil Patel who built companies like KISSmetrics, Crazy Egg and his latest QuickSprout, you will have great engagement with your target audience. Just because you are out there to engage your target market with your brand name, people will engage with you.
But, if you are building an organization where you don’t want to be the face of it, you need to identify a team of human beings and have a strategy to make your brand not look like a machine, a cold organization run by robots.
6 Characteristics For Becoming An Engaging Brand
Simply put, more engagement means more business. Visionary entrepreneurs understand that. Steve Jobs understood that very well and that is why he created such a buzz around Apple, right?
Well, here are 6 important characteristics of brands that engage well and I hope you will take these insights and implement in your business to make your company’s brand name more human and more engaging:
1. Engaging Brands Are Approachable
Have you seen websites where it’s all about the company? You will not find any trace of a human being who could be contacted, even for a question. Now, that is not a brand that will have any kind of engagement.
Your company website should have a page where you can proudly display a few team members who can be contacted individually by your visitors. This just makes your company a human face which is very important to create brand engagement. For example, take a look at copyblogger.com/about page.
2. Engaging Brands Talk To People
When somebody leaves a comment on your brand’s blog post, do they receive a reply from a human being that represents that company? It may not be you, but is there a human being at your organization who can respond?
Most big brands who want to engage provide an option of live chat with a human being. That is a great way to engage with your target market and most people feel very comfortable on live chat and find it very effective.
3. Engaging Brands Value Relationships
The brands who want engagement value people more than money. They are willing to sacrifice a few dollars and work extra hard to fix a relationships gone bad. A great example of such an excellent scenario was well described by Randy Gage in his book “Risky Is The New Safe”. He shares how Hammacher Schlemmer worked extra hard to regain Randy’s trust in them after a Christmas mishap with one of his purchases.
Randy wasn’t a million dollar customer for them. But, they value relationships and it only shows that they care. He still shops with them and mentioned about this experience in his book. J
4. Engaging Brands Listen
Brands that want to engage with their target market and succeed, are those who do not have email address like [email protected].
Brands behave like real human beings who listen more than they talk. They do more than they claim. They give more than they take.
They pay attention to what is happening with their website visitors. They analyze their website’s data using tools like Google Analytics (the gold standard) or premium service providers such as KISSMetrics, compete.com etc. They use the information they get through these tools to learn about their audience, understand their pattern so they can serve them better.
5. Engaging Brands Are Active On Social Media
In today’s social media dominated world, you not being available to your audience when they want to interact with you as a brand is not desirable, especially if your desire is to increase engagement.
Highly engaging brands choose the top 2 or 3 social networks where they want to build a strong presence. They make sure they are listening to others, asking questions, answering when people ask questions and creating world class engagement.
Are you available as a brand when your online or offline audience wants to talk to you? Do you respond to questions/concerns of your audience in a timely manner?
6. Engaging Brands Know Their Target Market
You don’t build a strong brand identity unless you know who you are, your strengths, your unique value proposition and a clear knowledge of who your target audience is.
Brands that engage know these details to the core. They know about themselves, know what their audience wants and have a strategy in place to provide it. They know how to inspire them, connect with them and help them achieve their goals.
Your Thoughts On Brand Engagement?
How do you think a brand can succeed better and faster? How do you suggest an entrepreneur should decide his/her branding strategy?
Please share your thoughts in comments below. Click here or scroll down to go to the comments. Thank you kindly!
You are right – you cannot have engagement with a robot. Those email addresses are so annoying, so is being unable to contact the people beyond the website.
Yes! Those “donotreply” email addresses drive me nuts. They want to communicate with you but they are not interested in learning what you think or if you have any questions. What an incredible way to drive away loyalty!
Thanks for dropping by!
But Kumar, do not forget that those emails also indicate that they are auto generated and provide a link for personal contact for questions and inquiries…it is my experience that those links actually work and my challenges are usually met.
I entirely agree with you here, brands are important but so is having humans who are alive and interactive 🙂
I wouldn’t like to visit a company site or a blog without any comment or interaction, and sometimes such things take us away from people, even if they are brands. I recently read that even Copyblogger now has disabled comments from their blog, so it would certainly make me visit their blog less often, unless one’s a real follower of their’s.
Yes, personal brands are always more engaging, and they thrive on building relationships with others, and that’s what builds them up instead.
Thanks for sharing these wonderful tips with us. Have a nice week ahead 🙂
The news about Copyblogger is certainly interesting. They know marketing, they have done pretty well over the years. But, now they disabled commenting. What does this mean? Do they know something we don’t know yet? What is their strategy? Any thoughts?
Branding is indeed the key to success in the long run. People come to recognise a face and also teh general color scheme and fonts that you use (like with a logo.)
These days I think it is important to present more of a personal brand, as social media has put us out there and people expect to be able to contact someone. The advent of things like online chat help and twitter support has also increased this need. So I think the days of the hidden brand are dying.
That is not to say it is not possible, but the expectations are changing for sure.
thanks for the interesting post
Expectations are certainly changing especially due to social media as you rightly pointed out.
It is all about connecting with consumers and there is a huge difference between communicating and connecting. Those who connect, will always do way better than those who just communicate and hide behind a brand name.
Thank you for adding value!
Kumar, as always you provide a well balanced perspective. If we look outside of social media we see that many of the enduring brands continue to bear their founders name. Equally there are very successful ones that are more abstract. Interestingly many of the abstract ones spend a lot of money on recognizable spokespersons to put a human face on their brand and many food companies actually invent either people or animals in recognition that Tony The Tiger is more to be trusted than Miscellaneous Mega Incorporated. There are pros and cons but on some level we need to engage with individuals.
That is really a great insight coming from you. The big brands do spend a huge amount if money on putting a human face behind their brands.
I guess social media really made all the difference by making media available to small business owners as much as it is available to giants!
Thank you for dropping by and sharing the branding strategies of giant brands and how the use the same principle to connect with their target market!
For me, your third point stands out the most. It’s al about relationships, fostering friendships, developing respect and nurturing trust. I think that when we put people first, in person or online, is the wisest way to engage socially.
Many times who you are as a person goes a lot further than your business card because healthy relationships establish the trust that is vital to any brand or platform.
Do have a great week!
Good point Bill. That’s right. It’s all about connecting, serving, over delivering and nurturing trust. Thanks for taking time to share your thoughts.
I totally agree that there should be a ‘person’ behind any brand. And I also agree with Paul, when a large company is ‘faceless’ the successful ones have a spokesperson or animal – Myself, I can relate to the gecko 🙂 Obviously it comes down to what the business is as to which way they brand themselves. I think that either way is fine as long as there is a ‘human’ element attached.
Reading Paul’s comment Gecko came to my mind as well and he is so right! Big companies try to compensate their lack of human ranking by putting celebrities and animals. Well, it certainly works for them to a large extent so far. Let’s see how long that strategy works!
For me it’s always been about relationships. Even way back with my off line business, I focused on quality customers not quantity. I do brand “Me” and because of that I know I have a lot at stake. I need to be “on call” when one of my customers need me.
That gets into customer service, which I believe is the back bone of any business. There is nothing worse than having to wait days or weeks in order for someone to correspond with you. I do value and am very grateful for those who join me.
I think when it comes down to it all, putting people first is the key to good engagement. I have many newbies that I’m working with and I’ve been encouraging them, answering their questions, etc. I guess I just have a love for people and that is why it’s working.
Engagement has always been the key for me!
This post is great. We are losing the human factor in business. 9 out of 10 Times you won’t get a person unless you push a bunch of buttons on your phone. Businesses have lost that personal touch that use to make you feel good when buying their product. The same thing can be said for blogging as well. That’s why i respond to ever comment that hits my page and will continue to do so unless i get things of comments a day in the future.
That is a great point! Responding to the comments that you get, is a great way to a t and behind your brand name and connect with your visitors and commentators. Thank you for pointing that out. It is a great branding strategy for engagement.
Whether its an online or offline business, I believe the relationship, meaning customer service – is the most important thing in growing a business. Not being able to contact a business is the most annoying thing, second only to contacting them and receiving no response. I very much enjoy your posts – I always learn something.
That’s an awesome point about brand engagement. Yes, having a great brand image isn’t going to cut it for a long time. Excellent customer service with a way to be approachable is the key to brand engagement. Thanks for the words of appreciation and taking time to comment here. Have a great week!
You raise and articulate some excellent points about proper and effective engagement strategies. I found your totally excellent
blog as a direct result of reading my coach and mentor, Adrienne Smith’s blog.
Although I’ve notice how extremely active you are on Google Plus, before today, I hadn’t actually ever visited your site. That my friend has officially changed!
I particularly like points 3,4 & 6! In point 4, you stress that “Engaging brands listen!” That about sums it up! Obviously the large companies ignore this golden rule way too often!
But sadly, so do far too many otherwise savvy small business owners and or service providers! Especially with regards to being active and interacting with their customer/ client base on social media!
Great job and I’ll definitely sharing more of your thoughts on social media! Thanks for sharing!
And look for my follow on Google Plus! Take care and please continue to crank out this engaging content!
I am glad to meet you and the pleasure certainly is mine. I saw your shares on Twitter today and I thank you for doing that!
Adrienne has a tremendous amount of experience not only with blogging but also in dealing with people and building great relationships! I admire her wisdom and ability to do so many things so systematically. I am so glad to know you are being mentored by her 🙂
I look forward to connecting with you and Google+ and learning more about you too.
I don’t think personal branding builds a great company. Richard Branson and Donald Trump have companies that are beyond their name and identity, and Branson has sold / folded and walked away from less profitable enterprises that had his branding on. I think when you brand something with your own identity, it becomes harder to sell even though people be more connected to that person. Even Tony Robbins has a company that’s set up to be there, and be beyond him.
That said, I went the personal branding route until I realised I’d be selling me, I may not be able to call myself by my own name any more… and I’ve grown rather attached to my name 🙂
Like I said, it depends on your branding strategy. However, speaking of Richard Branson, he is a brand that owns other brands. He did not hide behind Virgin or any other name. Instead, he wrote books, he always has been on the forefront of media as a brand name himself and by the way, the same is true about Donald Trumph.
The idea is not that you do business on your name. Rather, it’s about you being out there as the founder if the company and stand behind that brand.
Even Apple had Steve Jobs! These people that you mentioned, are way bigger brand names than any of the companies that they built and/or sold. What do you say about that? 🙂
Thank you for taking time for sharing your thoughts and I look forward to hear your thoughts after my thought now 🙂
Too many people still automate too many posts and updates, and I’m one of them. It’s hard to find the right balance and to know where to devote time when what I really need to be doing is writing books!
very engaging article you have here.. it looks like you hit a nerve hahah 🙂
As you already know me a little.. I am into either of them or you can say both of them as well.. but since so far, it is a very small visibility.. I am comfortable.. Ho, yes, I love to brand my self or a company name and then sell it for millions.. but hey, that did not happen yet, so I will keep it as it is for now and have fun haha 🙂
Thanks so much for sharing such a deep knowledge of this topic and for doing so well what you are doing.. always great to learn from you.
Glad to hear from you and I know you are busy making it happen! The day is going to come when you will sell your brand in millions if that is what you desire 🙂
Let me know if you need any help!
I personally think it depends on what you want to accomplish because if someone isn’t comfortable being in the forefront and they prefer saying behind the scenes then it would probably be a mistake to do otherwise. Obviously you can still have success that way but if you’re online I would think it would be very difficult having a conversation with a company name.
I’m sure you know my thoughts on this as well but like people such a Neil Patel, Chris Brogan, Donald Trump, etc. they have built empires but they’ve also had different companies with other names and done very well. You should never be ashamed if something fails, it’s part of the process I believe. If you decide to sell your company down the road if it’s your name that would be more difficult but I would think as you create spinoffs, products and services they would have their own separate titles which I don’t see as being an issue. I’m not speaking from experience of course but I would assume that would be the case.
I prefer to be branding with my name and have the different things I create all lumped under that. If it does great than that’s awesome, if I fall on my face then I’ll get up and start again. That’s what makes us better.
Great discussion here Kumar, thanks for sharing your views.
You are right. It all depends on how one feels comfortable. But speaking of engagement, it is hard to have when you are a ‘company name’ with no human backing it up.
Yes, everything we do comes it’s own set of risks and rewards. But, when it comes to engagement, there is no short cut. Engagement is only possible through human interface and a company name behind which someone hides, can’t create engagement. Do you agree?
Yeah, it is an awesome discussion. Creating a brand image, then creating an engagement around that brand name and then keeping it going with the target market is definitely a bigger task and requires a lot of strategising and planning! But then, that’s the price one must pay for achieving that goal, right?
Have a great week ahead!
I think Steve Jobs is an excellent example of how a person behind the brand can matter. Every time the press announced that he was ill, the stock prices dropped and when he recovered, they rose. His passing also affected stock for a while and personally, I think the brand had more appeal with his personality pushing it. Just like sales…people want to engage with a live person or believe that there is one lurking about!
Absolutely Jacqueline! I agree. For a long time Apple meant Steve Jobs. In fact, the only reason I latched onto iPhone and iPad is because he was the man behind it. I never interacted with him, I never saw him (not even on TV) but I had read his story, I heard about his passion for his craft and I became his admirer. And guess what, I spent thousands of dollars because of my admiration for the man.
Personality matters. A human being who can be bigger than the brand itself can take the brand to a great height. Steve Jobs exemplified that very well.
Thank you for dropping by!
Hi Kumar. These are really helpful tips for how to build a successful brand. I’ve struggled with some of the points you raised and they are good food for thought. By the way, I laughed when you mentioned the “donotreply@….” emails. So true. It seems big businesses are often so unapproachable and inhuman. I guess that’s where smaller businesses and on-line blogs can succeed.
Absolutely Karen! This is out window of opportunity. The fact that big brands are less and less engaging, as small business owners and online entrepreneurs, we’ve got that opportunity to engage with our audience, build credibility, develop trust and become big!
Thank you for the insights 🙂
I agree, engagement is very important. I attempted to reach Facebook about my business URL. It said it was already taken but when I typed it in, I discovered it wasn’t. I received run around “robot” responses. Understandably, it’s a free service, but I can purchase advertisement. I’m not going to spend money if people aren’t able to find my Facebook page. To my surprise, it was resolved in a few weeks but there was no interaction. I think customers can feel a little helpless if the company seems out of reach.
Yeah! Facebook’s customer service is not very friendly and for obvious reasons. Thank you for pointing that out Christina. This is what differentiates a brand which engages with the target market VS the brands who think they are invincible. It’s amazing phenomena!
nice post Kumar, i was going through a decision making phase with branding and i realized that engagement was key. i i didn’t want to brand myself for a while, because it felt safer to being invisible behind a well known oportunity, but i recently built a new brand and have decided to give it a full shot. I think every marketer should see themselves as the product.This way engagement and research will come a lot more natural.
Hello Mr. Kumar
I trust you are well.
This is an excellent article that gives the reader the option to choose how they want to be branded.
As you know my blog is under the name of my business, but social media connects with my name.
I am currently looking to secure a domain with my name to be able to change my blog.
Thank you for great open discussion on this subject.
Have a great day
Hello Ma Gladys,
Getting a domain on your name is definitely a great idea. Once you get it, it will be a new project to build your brand name around your name.
I look forward to hear on your progress!
I think branding yourself is a better choice. Then people get to know me. I think putting yourself up front allows people to trust you and trust is the basis for building relationships which will always lead to business. Just my opinion. Your 6 tips for building an engaging brand are dead on and every one is true. Been learning about this for years but it requires a lot of work and effort. Once you’ve built your brand most of the work is done and the rest is easier; not easy, but easier. Great post.
That’s right Barbara! Well, anything worth having is not easy to have. It does take efforts, consistency and persistency to achieve anything of significance. So, yes , creating an engaging brand identity will definitely take work! But the benefits are tremendous as you rightly said.
Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!
Branding is very important. That’s why I’m trying to brand myself right now.
What I don’t understand at time, is those big blogs by people who seem to be successful with closed comments. I mean as big as they are, if they’re out there is that they’re still looking for more clients, so why shutting down the human factor? Really beats me.
Thank you for bringing this excellent topic.
I am also puzzled date the latest in the series, Copyblogger did this. Looks like there is an amount of SEO benefit which these big blogs are chasing in addition to trying to save their bandwidth. Well, I am still guessing.
But yes, they are certainly disengaging with their target market on their blog. It is disappointing!
When it comes to branding, you want to be as human as possible! People remember those based upon how they made them feel versus otherwise. If you show your concerns and how much you care about people as part of your brand, then people will respond to you in more of a positive manner. I love the 6 points you made here because of the strong truth behind each one. If we all follow them, the rewards become priceless! Thanks for sharing Kumar!
It all boils down to what a person or brand values. Sincerely, some of the big corporations like Paypal and Amazon famously use automated mail but its not because they do not care or are nonchalant. Rather, its in a bid to be more efficient that they employ the strategies they do.
Nice share however…Its a great idea knowing where one’s actions are going to land one, right?
Do have a very great day!
Hi Kumar; this is an excellent post with good points and relevant example. It got me to thinking again about an issue i have been struggling with. my site and business are called the midway marketplace. its a good name that is descriptive of what i do. However, its not easy to say or for people to remember when speaking in person or on the phone. I file for another domain http://www.mr-midway.com because quite a few people online already refer to me by that name and many of my social media accounts are under that name. I think mr. midway is more marketable. I could much more easily imagine it on merchandise. so what is your opinion? thanks and take care, Max
Great topic and one that I love.
I think it depends. For most of us with blogs, building a home based business or network marketing business I believer personal branding is what we need to do.
I think Jacqui made a great point on Steve Jobs and Apple with his illness. That is the downside. When we had our financial planning business we were careful to brand the business as we knew we wanted to ultimately sell it. Of course the online world and social media have made personal branding more the done thing.
I think it is important to have a solid company image as well as personal in the example of say Richard Branson and Virgin.
I have done my business around the company. I think what makes it work is a unique selling proposition and I have tried to put out their what my business stands for. What sets your business apart from your competitor. I think becoming a Jack of trades and a master of none is what drives most businesses. They want to represent everything. Having a unique selling proposition should stand what you are known for.
I look at Zappos who came up with USP. They are known for buying shoes online, getting them shipped to you fast and no hassle returns. They are grown because also their customer service is friendly. So why would you go anywhere else to buy shoes.
I agree with you in that. Brands are important in our lives but we are humans and want to communicate a human , where someone can hear you , feel and reply you in short communicate with you.
With changing world our desires , demands are changing daily and to get help we need to contact some one who really want to connect in return.
I also hate all such emails which say do not reply to this email. If we do not reply at least they must tell us where we should reply.
Post is very good with very nice examples.
I think that relationship marketing is here to stay! People have come to expect that they can choose where they buy and if one business is engaging and others aren’t, guess which one gets the sale? It certainly affected me when I was shopping online for holiday gifts in 2013.
Well when it comes to branding it shall be professional and must have a great strategy as you’ve mentioned in the post.
Nice post and I am totally agree with you that Brand is really an important factor. Person have to be very active. Relationship really play very crucial role. Thanks for sharing these tips with us.