What’s the difference between your personal brand & reputation?

What’s the difference between your personal brand and reputation? …I mean, is there one?

The past few months have shown us that everyone in marketing needs a crisis management plan. And, in the first week of 2021, marketing teams were already putting them to use. Once again, political unrest is gaining momentum and we are watching as historic events unfold. The impact of how brands are publically reacting will forever impact both their personal brands and reputation.

For example, some brands opted to stay silent while others leveraged the power of their voice to describe their own views. People noticed. 👇

While it’s undeniable that there is overlap between the two, they don’t quite feel like the same thing.

Here the general take:

There seems to be a bit of ambiguity in terms of where they are different and where brand and reputation overlap.

Definition of Personal Brand

Your personal brand is how you promote and present yourself. It’s a unique combination things that help people recognize you.

What is part of your personal brand?

  • Tone of voice
  • Use of emojis
  • Topics & passions
  • Visual identity
  • Political stance

Being consistent with your personal brand is part of the equation too.

For example, let’s say you write a blog post that goes viral. If you have a strong personal brand, people who know you will be able to tell who wrote it based on how you wrote it and what it says.

Definition of Reputation

In reality, you can represent yourself however you want with your personal brand. Whereas, your reputation is largely determined by how others see you. It’s a series of opinions on how people think and feel about you based on their personal experiences.

You can’t control your reputation. It’s subjective.

What is part of your reputation?

  • Quality of work
  • Trustworthiness
  • Public image

The elements of someone’s reputation are all opinion based.

What’s the Main Difference Between Personal Brand and Reputation?

The main difference is how they can impact a person or a company. Your reputation is part of your personal brand, though there’s also a part of reputation that’s independent of your brand.

There are a lot of examples where companies or public figures can have a strong personal brand and a bad reputation. Here are a few of my favourite examples from the Twitterverse:

People will agree or disagree about your reputation. However, you are the one who gets to define your personal brand.

When your Reputation isn’t Enough

If you have a reputation for creating quality work, but your personal brand doesn’t align with someone’s politics, your reputation alone might not be enough. Your personal brand will impact whether or not someone wants to work with you.

Case in point, earlier this week we saw a lot of examples online of how companies have responded to the riots in DC. Some brands stayed intentionally quiet, while others chose to share their thoughts.

Those that shared views people disagreed with lost customers that day. That’s a scary consequence when you’re getting squeezed by different pandemic challenges.

On the flip side, those that took a bold stance gained a lot of kudos and respect, thus amplifying their personal brands.

During times of crisis, many marketing leaders choose to ‘go dark’ on social media and refrain from posting anything. Here’s an example where Ben and Jerry’s did the exact opposite.

Going dark on social is a safe move that requires the least amount of risk to your personal brand and the least amount of thinking. It’s easier to manage a voice that you’re not using.

When people do this throughout their daily lives, this move is usually what ends up holding them back. You can’t get the answer wrong and embarrass yourself if you never put your hand up. The thing is, you’ll never be seen as a leader or the kid at the top of the class.

Understanding the difference between personal brand and reputation can be a very powerful part of your marketing strategy. It’s up to you to decide when and how you want to use them. In terms of 2021 marketing trends, many leaders will be forced to quickly analyze and choose the best option for brands they represent.

It’s a tough place to be.

Summary

Personal brand and reputation share many similarities, but at the end of the day, they are different.

Here is a quick rundown of what those differences are:

  • Your personal brand is something that you define
  • Reputation is based on the experiences of others
  • Personal brand is something you can control
  • Reputation is completely subjective

While the conversation on personal brand and reputation is still evolving, the volume of their impact is not. As a marketing leader, it’s on you to understand how this works and why it’s important.

By Christine

Hi, I'm Christine. I'm a public speaker & marketing professional with a specialization in digital strategy. I live and breathe all things content & marketing. In my previous positions, I've done everything from rebranding companies, launching new SaaS products, writing sales copy, and developing long-term SEO & social strategies. I believe that quality communication and measurable results are the key to every digital marketing strategy.