Brand Mutuality – A Perspective on Today’s Brand Building

In less than 20 years, personal brand has become the Zeitgeist of the way individuals think about their professional life and, central to that ethos, young business professionals have drawn a line in the sand vowing never to surrender their personal brand equity to any company.

For today’s young business leaders, the growth of their personal brand is at least as important as building the brand of their employer. However, the growth of one’s personal brand does not have to be at the expense of one’s employer’s brand, but it will always take precedence. When the two brands are in alignment, the possibilities of brand synergy abound.

Conversely, without a strong alignment between employees’ personal brands and their employer’s corporate brand, an organization’s competitive advantage and long-term success is threatened.  The growth and acceptance of personal brand has had one very important unintended consequence – it has changed everything about the way companies build a corporate brand.

At the core of this new paradigm of corporate brand building is a fundamental shift in the way individuals build their personal brand and how innovative organizations are embracing a whole new way of aligning employees’ personal brands to create value for customers.

A New Perspective on Brand Building

What’s different today, 20 years later, is that brand synergy has been replaced with brand mutuality. Brand alignment that serves the purpose of building an employee’s personal brand and the organization’s corporate brand is the new paradigm. The success of this new framework will require that individuals and organizations change their understanding of brand building.

Individuals will benefit by expanding their perspective of personal brand, giving more credence to the core and less to the veneer. The fact that so many individuals equate personal brand building with their social media activities is just a reminder of the narrow understanding of personal brand. In a professional context, a LinkedIn Profile has become symbolic of the personal marketing techniques aimed at “packaging, positioning and polishing” one’s professional image. In that context, personal brand management has become synonymous with career promotion. Similar to product brand management, packaging can create appeal, but it’s the product itself that delivers the value and earns respect for the brand.

A strong personal brand begins and is sustained with a strong core comprised of one’s competence, character and commitment to growing.  Building a strong personal brand is 80% professional development and 20% professional promotion.  A strong “product” will always yield the most from “packaging, positioning and polishing” one’s personal brand.

A new perspective on organizational brand building is also in order.  For decades, successful organizations took the power of internal brand alignment for granted. Traditionally, employees were willing partners in building and sustaining internal alignment, the core of sustainable corporate brand strength. In exchange for the promise of a long-term, implied employment contract, employees happily subordinated their personal brand to their employer’s brand. By showing up, understanding the rules and playing by the rules, employees’ behaviors were “naturally” aligned with an organization’s cultural values.

It’s very different now. Osmosis and counting on employee acquiescence is no longer an effective internal alignment strategy. Today effective corporate brand building will require a more transparent, proactive organizational development process that aligns the mutual interests of employees, the organization and its customers.

Brand Mutuality – The Power of Internal Brand Alignment

Today tapping into the power of internal alignment is more possible and potentially more powerful than ever.  Leveraging brand mutuality creates powerful brand-building synergy, unleashing a new source of brand power.  Over the last 20 years, I have worked with many, many organizations helping them to build a conscious competence in creating and sustaining internal brand alignment.  At the core of this work is implementing an innovative organizational development process known as internal brand building, a process designed specifically to tap into the power of brand mutuality.

The gist of the internal brand-building process is helping employees discover the alignment between their personal brand and the organization’s brand and then focusing those shared beliefs on making a difference for customers. Using an internal brand-building process that promotes transparency and mutuality delivers on the promise of internal alignment that research demonstrates is still the engine of sustainable financial success.

Today, business professionals maintain a strong commitment to their personal brands. The possibilities of internal alignment offer individuals the confidence and security that a long-term relationship with their employer can be a smart personal brand strategy.  Likewise, organizations, by valuing and respecting employees’ personal brands, can leverage the power of internal alignment to use “its way” to strengthen its competitive advantage and sustain superior financial success.

Fostering internal alignment by leveraging the power of brand mutuality will benefit customers, employees and an organization – the trifecta of sustainable business success.

This blog post is excerpted from an article titled When Brand Became Personal, It Changed Everything

The article was written by Karl D. Speak, the author of the best-selling book Be Your Own Brand, a book on personal brand that helped start the revolution in personal brand over 15 years ago.

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