Case Study: Rob Frankel – Personal branding or career suicide?

RobHeaderRob Frankel has been called “the best branding expert on the planet”.   He’s the author of “The Revenge of Brand X: How to Build a Big Time Brand on the Web or Anywhere Else” and founder of  Rob and I have similar “big business” backgrounds.  We have similar perspectives on the art of branding and the role it plays in building a business – be it a big one or a small one.  Here’s what Rob had to say when we talked about “personal branding” as it relates to building your business.

Laura: What is your definition of a brand?

Rob: A brand is how you get your prospects to perceive your solution as the only solution to their problem.

Laura: What do you think of personal branding and the role it plays when building a business.

Rob: The idea of personal branding is a corruption and co-opting of a legitimate process – branding.  In terms of small businesses, on entrepreneurs, people have a tendency to think that because they are the business, they are the brand.  Nothing is further from the truth.  No matter how small your business is, customers are buying the business, product or service…not you.  Customers don’t hire me because I’m a nice guy, good dad, and soccer coach.  They hire me because they have a branding issue and I can solve it.

Laura: How do you differentiate your personal characteristics from a business brand?

Rob: Your brand is your business…not your person.  Its about business…not about being a good dad.  There are core brand attributes that make brands successful.  For example, credibility, authenticity, and honesty.   Just because you have these personal attributes doesn’t mean you have to embark on a personal branding crusade.  Use the attributes to build an image and meaning for the company brand.

Laura: What are the implications of “personal branding” on employees and companies?

Rob: The purveyors of “personal branding” get into some serious ethical issues.  If you’re working for a company, then why promote the company brand when should be promoting yours?  There are legal issues as well as the company hires you to further their interest, not your own.  Younger, entry level people are really buying into the idea of building a personal brand.  I predict that we’re going to see examples of career suicide resulting in the conflict of interest between personal and business brands.