Company Branding Versus Personal Branding

Company Branding Versus Personal Branding

Today, establishing a digital marketing program for a company is a given. Similarly, more CEOs and other business executives are finding value in establishing an online presence for themselves as a way to promote their company while strategically positioning themselves as an expert in their field.

With marketers juggling both company branding and their executive’s personal branding, what are some of the challenges — and untapped opportunities — to be aware of?


Why Business Executives Need Personal Branding and Social Media

Digital marketing strategies continue to evolve over the years. Even before the pandemic forced marketers to pivot, we saw changes in the way business leaders approached their personal positioning. Understanding that their company’s audience is increasingly using social media as a research tool, it became clear that executives with a strategic social media presence had a significant advantage over competitors that did not. 

We’ve seen how positioning an executive as a knowledgeable figure in their industry became the predominant way to build their personal branding. To learn more, read our article, What is Executive Thought Leadership (and Why it Matters).

Most digital marketers are familiar with building and establishing their company’s brand online, whether it’s through their website or other channels like social media. These days, a company without a social media presence is rare because marketers understand that more of their audience is going online. One study found that almost 63% of Instagram users around the world use the platform to follow or research brands and products they’re interested in. 80% of weekly users on Pinterest noted that they discovered a new brand or product on the platform. LinkedIn lists over 58 million companies and has become a major playing field for B2B brands and executives alike.

As a company’s digital marketing program grows, executive social media has, thanks to its many unique benefits, established itself as one of the key complementary pieces to help drive business growth.


What Makes Personal Branding Different From Company Branding?

Personal branding and by extension, executive social media, differ from traditional company brand social media strategies in a number of ways:

1) With executive social media, the focus is on one individual, rather than a faceless brand.

It’s naturally an authentic social media presence because there’s an identifiable figure. When consumers interact with a brand account, it’s unclear who they’re really engaging with. On the other hand, social media allows users to interact with CEOs and other company executives in a way that they normally wouldn’t outside of this medium. Because the posts shared on an executive’s account come from them, it makes the content feel more personal.

2) An executive’s social media presence can focus on achieving different goals compared to the company.

Many companies on social media focus on goals such as building brand awareness, increasing website traffic, and increasing lead generation. At times, some of the content these pages share has a more promotional angle. While executives can work towards similar goals with the content they share on their personal social media accounts, there may be times when marketers want to leverage an executive’s presence to reach completely different but equally important objectives. For example, an executive’s presence might focus on promoting sustainability and diversity efforts at the company, which may only be lightly discussed on the main brand account. This type of content feels more authentic when it’s delivered through a personal account.

3) Company topics tend to be broader while executive social media tends to be more focused at the individual level.

The content published on a company’s social media page conveys the organization’s overarching vision and mission. On the other hand, an executive’s social media presence might focus on only a few areas of the company’s mission (like in the sustainability example we mentioned above). The executive’s content could also include more personal topics, whether it’s a LinkedIn post sharing a list of books they’ve read or a snapshot on Instagram of their recent trade show appearance.

Of course, this distinction between broader company topics versus focused executive topics isn’t always the case. However, in our experience, executive social media tends to be successful when there’s both a clear strategic topic area that the executive wants to be known for and personal topics that establish an authentic online persona.


Challenges To Be Aware Of

One of the biggest pitfalls is sharing similar content on both the company’s page and the executive’s personal page. While there may be times when marketers want to align messaging to go out at the same time, such as linking readers to an important press conference on the company’s website, in general, the posts on the company site shouldn’t overlap too much with what’s being posted on the executive’s account — and vice versa.

Users following an executive want to hear directly from them. Executives who tend to focus entirely on branded content without making it more authentic or accessible tend to garner lower engagement on their posts. At worst, they’ll be seen as purely a marketing mouthpiece for their company, which also hurts their personal branding.

Another challenge for marketers is dealing with executives who tend to go “off script” and may not post content that helps drive toward company goals. However, there are solutions. Take this article, Tesla execs are taking up the mantle of social media comms — to the EV community’s delight. It details how with Elon Musk making fewer comments about Tesla on his X (Twitter) account, other executives in the company are stepping up and establishing their voice on social media and engaging with the audience. Ultimately, it’s not just the CEO or founder that marketers should consider positioning on social media. There are other business leaders that may make sense to promote as well. We cover this topic in our article, Choosing The Right Executive For Social Media.


Use Executive Social Media To Reach Your Marketing Goals

What marketing goals do you hope to achieve this year? Executive social media is not only an effective complement to a brand’s existing digital marketing program, but its flexibility also allows marketers to tailor an executive’s presence to position them as a thought leader while helping to achieve company goals.

Click below to schedule a consultation with one of our social media marketers and discuss your executive’s personal branding today.