Why Personal Brand Is The Secret To Building A Company Brand (And How You Can Make It Work For Your Business)

Dave Gerhardt
Oct 23, 2019 · 6 min read

Buyers are more skeptical than ever. Myself included. I am a marketer. I love marketing. But I hate being marketed to. Instead, I want product recommendations from friends I trust. People buy from people — so companies today can’t afford to be some nameless, faceless entity. That might work for Coca-Cola or Tide and the handful of other old legacy brands that have long established market share. But for companies just trying to break through, especially in crowded markets, it’s about establishing a personal connection with would-be buyers.

Why? Because I can go online right now and find out pretty much everything I need to know about your company or product without ever talking to a sales rep. Let’s just say buyers’ bullshit meters are extremely sensitive. We know when a salesperson or marketer is just throwing jargon at us. Because we can go online and see if reviews and ratings back them up.

So how do you build trust in your business? Show buyers that there are real people behind the logo. Make your employees faces of your brand. Get out of your comfort zone — create videos, podcasts and blog posts that share and show who you really are.

People buy from people. So show the world there are passionate, hard-working, smart people behind your brand too. How? It starts with personal branding. But building a personal brand isn’t as easy as tweeting every other day and hoping someone out there tweets back. You have to work at it.

Here are the three things key to making personal branding work for your business.

1) Be consistent.

If you’ve made the decision to build out a personal brand for your CEO / marketing team / every employee (whoever it may be) you need to fully commit. And once you’ve committed, you have to be consistent. Consistent to the point where you’re okay not getting any responses, likes, replies (anything but silence really) for a while.

It’s going to take time.

Here’s what I mean by really committing. Five years ago I started a podcast as a side project. Before anyone was really podcasting and definitely before anyone was really listening to them. I did this podcast for three months. And in that time I didn’t get a single email, reply, or retweet. And only a handful of downloads. So I tucked my tail between my legs and stopped the podcast cold.

It wasn’t until two months later someone emailed me to ask what happened. Someone was actually listening. And wanted to know where I had disappeared to. That was the motivation I needed to fully commit. From there, I decided to put out a new episode every Friday, and I did just that for the next three years. It took time, but I grew a loyal audience that was actively listening and sharing the show.

So my advice to you is this. Go make 100 episodes, go write 100 blog posts, go send 100 emails, go make 100 videos. Truly commit. We all fixate on making everything go viral. But that’s usually not how things work. It takes time to grow an audience. And it takes consistency. If you’re doing it for short-term gain, it’s not going to work.

2) Make your employees synonymous with your brand.

You know the drill. Tweet at your least favorite airline to complain about your lost luggage and you’re bound to get a signed tweet back from some faceless rep. No smiling face to console you. Just the company’s logo and some random person’s initials. Not super reassuring. And definitely not personal.

But what if you actually heard from a real person? From their real Twitter account? That would go a long way to make you feel like someone was actually listening, right? That’s exactly what we did at Drift. Sure we still use our corporate @Drift handle to share articles, news and events, but when someone tweets at us, our social media manager, Jackie Bai (hit her up at @JBfromDrift) responds from her own handle. JB is manning Twitter all day long and triaging any and all requests that come in. And she replies back from her own account, with a custom, personal response. And more than just giving people the reassurance that we’re listening, we’ve been able to foster conversations because people, you guessed it, want to talk to other people.

And this kind of personal touch goes well beyond Twitter. We encourage everyone at Drift, but especially people on our marketing, sales and customer success teams, to build their own brands. Because that’s how we do marketing at Drift — through our team. By sharing content, creating their own videos on LinkedIn, responding directly to customers on Twitter, and even with their own podcasts, we’re building a brand that’s synonymous with our employees.

But what if it doesn’t come naturally to everyone? No problem. Getting started is as simple as encouraging team members to be themselves. After all, when it comes to building a personal brand, if it’s not authentic, it’s not going to work (remember that bullshit meter I talked about?). We might all be saying and sharing the same thing, but everyone has to bring their own flavor. We all listen to different music, we all eat different food, we all wear different clothes. The same is true when it comes to how we write and speak and talk and all that stuff.

3) Get your CEO on board.

Remember, people want to buy from people they like and trust. So if you’re a startup CEO, you need to build a brand that portrays you as the thought leader that you are. You’re living and breathing your company, so why not share that? Fundraising, hiring, finding the right office space, creating content, building products — it’s all fair game.

Think about some of the most successful businesses today. Apple, Salesforce, Oracle. They’re all basically synonymous with their CEOs. Great brands create movements, and there’s almost always a person at the forefront of that movement that people want to connect with. So focus on building up your CEO’s personal brand (for inspiration, you can check our Drift’s CEO, David Cancel, on Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter). And, like with everything, make it personal. Don’t just have them share out what award your company just won or which positions you’re hiring for. I want to know what type of coffee they drink. I want to know about their morning routine. I want to know what books they’re reading and which podcasts they’re listening to.

Eventually, you’ll get to a point where followers like the CEO as a person. So maybe they’ll like their business too.

These days there are so many tools you can use to build a personal brand that draws people in. Which also means more people are doing it so standing out is harder than ever. But remember, your content isn’t going to be relevant to everyone. Not everyone is going to like what you’re doing. But if you can get over the fear that no one cares and instead can focus on creating a consistent presence, you’ll breakthrough to the people you want to get in front of.

Dave Gerhardt is the VP of Marketing at Drift, the world’s leading conversational marketing platform. Find him on LinkedIn and on Twitter.


Stories for high-growth startups.

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