Battle of the Brands in the B2B Demand Generation Arena: Personal vs Corporate

The Web Wants YOU

Let’s explore how you can  get the support you need from your company to cultivate your personal brand through social media—and reassure them that your personal brand buildup will be beneficial to them.

In his article “Personal Brands vs. Corporate Brands,” Chris Koch asserts,

“This is the year that the personal brand begins to do battle with the corporate brand…We need to let the personal brand win—especially in B2B.” Allowing your subject matter experts to become superstars in their own right, typically via a non-company blog or other social media, “creates a virtuous cycle that links these personal brands to the corporate brand.”

This virtuous cycle includes at least two big benefits to the company:

  • Positioning company leaders as subject matter experts in their own right adds credibility to the organization and increases trust in the company brand.
  • The personal brand blog ultimately drives traffic to the company website—it serves as another channel for leads.

But, your own company might say, what if our superstar leaves the company and takes all their good traffic with them? That’s what happened to Forrester Research: Popular analyst Jeremiah Owyang joined them after his own blog had gained a large following. The brand benefits were mutual, as Chris notes:

“In the early days, Owyang’s personal blog was driven by his personal brand and enhanced by the Forrester corporate brand. First you found Owyang, and then you found that Forrester was behind him.

Meanwhile, the Forrester corporate blog that he contributed to was driven by the Forrester brand and enhanced by Owyang’s personal brand. First you found Forrester, and then you found Owyang.”

As you may already know, Owyang ultimately left Forrester for a startup, Altimeter. But from Chris’ point of view, Forrester still wins:

“Owyang’s blog is still packed full of references to Forrester and his work there…There’s a very positive association there that underscores Forrester’s ability to nurture talent.”

However, today Forrester analysts may only write personal blogs “behind the Forrester firewall” and contribute to group blogs targeting specific business lines. Effectively, Forrester co-brands their analysts. And if a star analyst leaves, it’s easier to fill the gap—right?

“From a traditional corporate branding perspective, your immediate reaction would be to expunge the analyst from your audience’s memory and start pushing the new content instead…From a customer’s perspective, I think Forrester looks better being a legacy on a star’s personal blog than having a star that leaves a void in content upon leaving.”

Companies can’t afford to default to knee-jerk traditional brand-think when dealing with all of the issues brought on by the rise of the personal brand. Your audience’s memory might be short, but the Internet remembers everything. And that’s a big reason why, as Chris says, “like it or not, the brand game has changed forever.”

I highly recommend reading Chris’ full story on “Personal Brands vs. Corporate Brands” as soon as you get the chance!

Have you faced resistance to establishing your personal brand as a marketer outside of your organization? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments.

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