Define the brand: You or your company?

by Rich Bradley on March 18, 2010

We very briefly touched on a subject on this past week’s radio show (see player above the sidebars) that I wanted to explore a bit more deeply.

The question asked if are you your company. In other words, is your brand is defined by you or your company?

Interesting question. And, like so many questions in the business world, there’s no one right answer.

When a business consists of just one person, basically they are the brand.

Sometimes (told you there was no one right answer). For instance, what of the single-person who buys into a franchise? Some examples of one-person companies operating under a brand umbrella would be a ReMax Realtor, my friends over at Cartridge World, and even your friendly neighborhood Proforma owner (hint, hint). The franchise has probably spent a lot of time (and money) to develop its brand. So, a one-person company doesn’t necessarily define his company — the franchise has done a job of creating a brand already.

Now, there are certain things that franchise owners are allowed to do (and others that we are not). Within those parameters, an individual office can take on the personality of the owner (within reason), but the company is still defined by the franchise — the creator of the brand.

But in a one-person operation like a plumber, hair-dresser, limo driver or lawn cutter, the company and brand is defined by that person.  If it’s Dave’s Plumbing, chances are that Dave defines the company. Everything that Dave does defines Dave’s Plumbing.

But what happens when Dave’s Plumbing gets bigger — and he hires office staff and additional people to work in the field? Then, it’s up to Dave to establish, define and reinforce the brand with all of those employees — as well as his customers and potential customers.

If he’s successful in creating a brand culture, then Dave will still define the company. (After all, how often have you heard that a company takes on the personality of its leader?). Chances are if Dave is prompt, friendly and does meticulous work, he will try to hire people with similar qualities – or at least instill those qualities in his personnel. And as the company continues to grow, it remains vitally important that the core values of the brand continue to be passed along to new employees and new offices.

The goal — as defined by the brand — is that even if Dave isn’t doing the actual work any more, it still feels like Dave is there. That’s when the person and the brand are interchangeable. And that’s a good thing.

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