We are firmly in the information age and nothing says that more than the movements we have seen happening in the business world. Those who have achieved celebrity status in something like sports or music are leveraging on this and starting businesses in apparel or liquor. People are building businesses and earning incomes as influencers or mediapreneurs. Mega personalities like Elon Musk are the blueprint for many people who want to build businesses. Our question today is not on whether or not this should be done, though this will be answered. The question is whether or not you should do it?

Personal brand to business

Just to be clear let’s get clear on what we are talking about here. We are speaking of cases where personal branding is mixed with business branding, to a point where the business is tied together with persons or personalities of the persons behind it. The simplest expression of this is naming the business after yourself or including your name in the business name. There are many more expressions of course such as being the face, spokesperson and representative of the brand, going as far as being the model for products.

Why?

Let’s take some time to discuss why people would do this. Let’s start at the very beginning. People start businesses with the motive of making money that can sometimes be tied to other objectives such as changing the world or making a name for themself. The latter for many people is a great source of motivation for going into business, getting recognition for your efforts. Others may point out that they tie their business brand and their personal brand together to let people know who is behind the business, this too is valid. Other’s still may point to how using their name is so much easier and I can relate to this. Kudzai’s Fried Chicken is a much easier name to come up with than Pollo Frito (Fried chicken in Spanish) and a lot easier to market in non-Hispanophone (Spanish speaking) countries like Zimbabwe. Finally, we can look at cases where one has already made a name for themself and they want to use their personal brand to give the business a boost.

Pros

Let’s briefly look at some of the advantages of this practice;

Popularity

You can lend your own popularity to the business and give it a head start in recognition. The same goes for credibility and any other desirable qualities.

Visibility

If you are visible it becomes much easier to make your business visible and accepted by the market especially where the name is distinguishable.

Leverage

Using your own name and brand makes the business relateable which is a big advantage for small businesses. This makes things like customer acquisition much easier.

Cons

By now you should know when I list advantages there will be disadvantages to balance the discussion. Let’s briefly look at the disadvantages of this practice.

Unpopular

If you lack popularity or name recognition it will count for nought. The efforts put into pushing the co-branding may have been better used in talking about what your business actually does for people.

Negativity

If there is negativity associated with you it will spill over to your business. While we may think negativity in terms of scandal and other negative press we should open up our minds a little bit more. As an example imagine the person who wants to be the face of the business as well, so they appear in all images. If that person does not visually represent the target market it may alienate the very customers the business needs.

lack of sufficient nexus

While our businesses are indeed our own and somewhat like our babies, we have to accept the reality that a business is a customer. You can have a business with anything else except a customer. Convincing people about one product when you are known for a totally different industry is very difficult.

People don’t care until they know that you care

If you decide to embark on the journey of starting a business there is one thing that I would urge you to be cognizant of if you come across this personal brand and business brand conundrum. If you are popular or have a reputation to leverage it is almost always a good idea. However for the majority that is not the case and I would urge you to consider creating a strong business brand that can stand alone. A name like Kudzai’s Burgers has you wondering who Kudzai is and why you should trust him to provide you with a good burger. Some will say the questioning is good but in a world where people are bombarded with information how many things do you say you want to find out about then forget? Burger King, Gourmet burgers, max Burger, Superior Burgers, Perfect burgers and Burger lovers would all make better names especially to people who don’t know Kudzai. And this extends beyond the name. It’s also about your whole branding effort and what you choose to focus on. Focus on the customer or the product is almost always better than focusing on the person behind the business.