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Creating a Personal Brand vs. a Business Brand for Your Interior Design Business 

Creating a Personal Brand vs. a Business Brand for Your Interior Design Business 

Do you have a personal brand – something that sets you apart? Or have you instead built a business brand – that may be connected more to your firm than to you personally? 

Your personal brand is your story. It captures who you are – your personality, strengths, creativity, and expertise. Your personal brand is how you are viewed by others. It is what helps to showcase the value you bring to the community and can help to build your business and draw your clients to you. Developing a clear personal brand can offer the ability to separate yourself from the crowd. It might come through in the design of your website or the tone of your writing in your bio or your blog. Or it might come through as a signature look in everything that leaves your firm. That might be the projects themselves or the graphics you have designed for communication.

In comparison, a business brand is not linked to one person’s name, nor will it necessarily reflect just one person’s story. Because they are not linked to one person’s name, business brands are usually created from the ground up. They usually create the impression that the firm is run by more than a solopreneur, so they may seem larger than they are. But a business brand can also start as a personal brand and then as the firm develops, so does the brand – transforming into a business brand.

So what are some pros and cons of each, and how can you build a brand that will best fit your future?

A Personal Brand

Pros

  • Many designers use their name in the company name and that can give a personal touch to the company. People like to work with people they know and trust – and if they know you or know of you, they will transfer that trust to your firm.
  • If you have already established a reputation, then using your name can help you attract clients who recognize and appreciate your work.
  • You have the opportunity to weave personal stories into your brand and thereby create a more human connection with your audience

Cons

  • Using your name can limit the potential for growth if you want to expand beyond a solopreneur company. It can be a challenge to add partners while still using just your name.
  • It can be more difficult to sell your business if your name was the brand and you will no longer be the owner. Listen to our podcast episode with Patti Julber, in which she talks about selling her business, and some of the challenges of using your own name.
  • If your name has an unusual spelling or is complicated, it might be harder for people to search. It can also complicate email addresses and social media handles.

Tips to Consider When Developing Your Personal Brand 

  • Everything in your business needs to reflect what you want your personal brand to say. You reflect upon your business, and your business reflects upon you.
  • You really need to know yourself. How can you develop a personal brand without knowing who it represents? What are your values? How would you define the culture of your business? What are your strengths and what makes you unique? What are your goals? What is your “why”? Know these answers first.
  • Define your ideal clients – they are your target audience. What is your unique value proposition? Does your value proposition align with the needs of your ideal clients? If so, move forward. If not, reevaluate how to position yourself.
  • Develop a simple short branding statement. Something that captures your story – your credentials, what you care about and what you offer. Then expand that so that you have a short and longer version of your story to share.
  • Use your personal brand to build your community and attract ideal clients and those who know your ideal clients. Your community might also include others in the design world.

A Business Brand

Pros

  • An effective firm name can portray a strong brand identity. If well chosen, it can communicate the firm’s mission and values – the unique value proposition. 
  • It can be more flexible if you plan for future expansion, add partners, or even sell the business.
  • It can indicate the longevity of the business to clients. They may be more confident that it will last beyond the involvement of the current owner.
  • Your team may feel more connected to the firm and its future when the name is about the company rather than just the owner. It can feel less ego-driven and more team-focused.

Cons

  • Personal names may inspire more trust than a business name.
  • A name that is too generic can be less memorable than using a person’s name.
  • A business brand may not stand out as clearly as a personal brand.

Tips for Developing a Business Brand

  • When choosing a name, make it something memorable that showcases your firm’s brand. Avoid generic names that will not separate you from the competition.
  • Don’t let the name limit your future growth or expansion. Be flexible and don’t be afraid to adjust the name in the future.
  • Follow the tips for developing a personal brand but apply that to how you want your business brand to be known. For example, a business still has to know itself, and the values of the owner or owners will influence how the business should be portrayed.

Future-Proof Your Brand

As you can see there are pros and cons for both a personal brand and a business brand. Starting with a personal brand can help you to establish who you are and what your brand stands for. You can share your story and create personal connections with your ideal clients, industry partners and referral partners. As your personal brand becomes established in the industry, ask yourself how you can “future-proof” your business. Do you plan to expand the size and possibly add partners? Have you considered the value of being able to sell your business to help fund your retirement? Will you sell the rights to your name when you sell the business and risk being misrepresented?

As you set your future goals, consider the value of building on your personal brand to expand to a business brand.

An excellent example of successful “future-proofing” is actually Pearl Collective. You probably know Gail Doby as the face of the company, and that the prior name of the business was Gail Doby Coaching & Consulting. A strong personal brand was created around her, but the firm has grown to become Pearl Collective. She is still the inspiration for so many and is also still a major face of the company, serving as a visionary and educator. But as you can see from our website, there are many more faces now!

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