Personal Branding and Company Branding: Incompatible or win-win?
I am not going to tell you how our life has changed over the past 20 or 25 years, because you all experience it every day.
What we will do is take a quick look back to see how “branding” has evolved.
I remember when I first started working, 25 years ago, how my job search was focused on companies that:
- had a known name,
- sold renowned brands, or
- were very big
Simple. Those were the characteristics I was looking for and for me that was those companies´ “branding”, which I thought was the most important thing to make me want to work for them.
It is also true that 25 years ago CSR or sustainability, for example, weren´t given the importance they are given today.
At that time I was focused on my professional career, climbing the corporate latter, getting positions with greater responsibility and earning more money, and not always in this order! I gave less importance to another series of values.
I did the same as a consumer, I only cared about buying good products at a good price. Full stop! Where were they made? How were they made? Who made them? No idea, I wasn’t interested!
Luckily, most young people are no longer like that. Nowadays people care about the values of the company where they are going to work, what they communicate through their brands and how they behave in society.
It has taken me many years to understand and appreciate this!
So, when I wonder how I have been able to work for the past 17 years in my current company, Essity, the answer is not only because I had good professional development, but because I really appreciate its values as a company. Yes, I know we all get up in the morning to try to achieve the best results, but the way to go about it matters more to people.
Essity sees itself as a company that is a “world leader in the health and hygiene industry”. And what does it do? It facilitates people’s daily lives through solutions and products such as toilet paper, kitchen rolls, napkins, nappies for babies, feminine hygiene, incontinence products, wound care products, compression products, and many others. In other words, basic products that we need every day.
For example, if we talk about company values, it motivates me to think that one of our objectives is that consumers consume our products because they are exactly what they need, neither more or less, always offering the highest quality. We don´t try to maximise consumption in any way.
Or that we work to reduce waste and innovate with products and solutions that reduce our environmental impact.
But the ambition that fuels me the most is “to improve the lives of 2 billion people by 2030”. With this I realise that I can really contribute to changing the world, through the work that I and all the people that work at Essity carry out.
I have used the case of my company as an example of modern company branding: what they do, but, above all, how they do it. And that is what the majority of employees value, as well as our customers and consumers.
As I said, to work for so many years in the same company you have to appreciate their values and ensure that they are in line with yours. And this is where personal branding comes into play. Because companies are no longer just their brands and products, or their ecosystem of suppliers and customers; they are also their workers. At Essity we are already almost 50,000.
And all us employees have our own “personal brand” that is increasingly fashionable as a term, but which has always been there.
In the past the focus was mainly on your career and getting results. Now, that brand is no longer based only on professional aspects, but also on values, attitudes and personal behaviours.
Today companies use Social Networks to assess the profile of their candidates. And candidates, in turn, use them to evaluate companies, and look for their managers and future colleagues to see if they walk the talk. And the reality is that, although one may be very protective of his/her private life, it is easy to find out many things on social networks.
So, in this context, I think the way a manager comes across is increasingly important, especially those that represent companies before public opinion, because quite often it is the only thing that is known about a company.
For example, if you are reading this article it is very likely that you have never heard of Essity. The perception that you will have about the company will be, on the one hand, what I tell you about it, and on the other, the impression that I make on you through this article or if you look me up on social networks. And precisely for this reason, the way the manager “José Ramón”(my personal branding), comes across both in professional and personal terms, is also very important for my company.
My personal interests are nutrition and sports for better health, interests that, fortunately, are perfectly compatible with those of my company, whose goal is to remain a company that is a “leader in hygiene and health“. So, when I speak as a spokesperson for the company, I talk about these issues in a professional way; and on a personal level, I usually share and publish articles on health or lifestyle for executives in my blog and in my Instagram and LinkedIn accounts.
In this way, people who had never heard of my company may come across it through any of my publications or speeches, so I also feel that I have a personal responsibility.
I think that both my company´s branding as well as my own complement and reinforce each other: an important part of who I am is due to my professional development at Essity, for whom it is essential to have managers who are authentic “ambassadors” of their professional and personal brand.
So, “Personal Branding and Company Branding: incompatibile or win-win?
My conclusion is that both personal and company brands must be developed in a compatible way, and in this way the benefit will be mutual.