by Haley Hoffman Smith Speaker and Author
So, you’re a founder and you’ve created a brand for your company that you’re proud of. But what about your personal brand? Many founders hide behind their company, but consumers are responding more than ever to founders who share their personal lives on social media, and it’s translating to sales. One report from the Impact Learning Center found that consumers are 82 percent more likely to trust a company if the CEO is active on social media, but as it stands now, only one in five CEOs use social media to connect with their consumers.
While building trust is the core benefit of creating a robust personal brand, the implications ripples far beyond increased sellability. Here are four reasons why personal branding is critical for founders.
1. Personal brands differentiate products in saturated markets.
Kylie Jenners’s lip kits fly off shelves, Mark Wahlberg and his brothers's Wahlburgers franchise remains steadfastly popular, and Jessica Alba’s Honest Company is a top choice for safe family products. While these successes can certainly be credited to heightened exposure, there’s an element of trust in their brands that compels consumers to choose their lipsticks, burgers and baby products over others in the market. In a saturated market, consumer trust lies with personal brands that they know and follow.
No, this doesn’t mean you need to be a widely known celebrity in order for your personal brand to work for you. But it does mean you need to build some type of platform and churn out content that speaks to your target audience. Seth Godin wrote on his blog that he defines a brand as “the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.” The best personal brands create these experiences and stories through the content they share on their platforms.
2. Personal brands build credibility for raising capital.
It’s no secret that investors invest in people rather than ideas. In fact, the “Investor’s Rule” states it as a principle. Accordingly, investors are more likely to invest in your company if you’ve garnered exposure for your personal brand and have built a tangible trust with your audience. It’s simply a smart investment; if you can prove through your personal brand that you can sell a product or service to your audience, the company is more likely to succeed.
It also may be easier to land a meeting with top investors if they recognize your name or personal brand in some way, whether from your social media accounts or significant press coverage. The idea is that they should be able to find your online presence and get to know you that way. If they already feel a sense of comradery with you, they’re more likely to take the meeting. Yes, personal branding can do this.
3. More articles are written about people than companies.
Finally, journalists know which articles get the most traction, and those are the articles surrounding the stories behind companies. The reasoning behind this is neurological -- the human brain is 22 times more likely to remember stories rather than facts. So, an article on how you built your fintech startup in your college dorm room is more likely to resonate than an article that solely covers what your fintech startup does. As a result, pitching journalists on company-related stories will be more successful if the pitch is framed around your story as a founder.
To stand out in a saturated market, improve chances of raising capital and gain more traction in the press, make sure to devote several hours a week to building your personal brand and establishing a rapport with your target audience. Your company will assuredly reap the benefits.