4 Undisputable Reasons for Branding Yourself Instead of Your Biz

by Joyce Grace

Last updated on February 14th, 2018

When I first started my business, choosing a name was a big deal. What was available? What was unique? What had a good ‘ring’ to it?

Then there was the logo. Three designers took their hack at it before it was satisfactory.

The website design just had to be perfect. This was my company’s branding, after all.

Do you know how much money that website, perfect logo and name with a ‘ring’ to it profited me? It didn’t. Zero dollars is the answer.

In the mean time, since my ‘perfectly’ branded site was taking so long to build, I decided to set up www.joycegrace.ca.

It was far from perfect. In fact, at that time is was plain uuuuggleeey. But I told myself perfect is not the point of this site. I just needed a portfolio to go up so I could show potential clients.

But here’s the thing: I also started optimizing my LinkedIn profile so I could get found better. And I made sure I was a person on social media accounts, not just a company.

The result?

To this day, my personal brand has grown my business more than any corporate brand could have.

So here I’m going to show you a few cases of how a personal brand can be just as important as a corporate brand when developing your business strategy—whether you’re a solopreneur or large company with several employees.

Case #1 – People want to deal with a human, not a faceless company

In my experience, people often want to deal with a person. I’ve been told by ex-customers of large companies in my field that they are tired of agency ‘big-ness.’ They get lost in the shuffle, unknowingly succumb to stagnant technological practices and are tossed between multiple employees due to high turnover rates.

The brand name of an agency works for some (especially when the agency is a quality one with great people behind it). But for other business owners, even so-called ‘big’ ones, it’s more important to choose an agency that’s human than one with a fancy logo. (Of course, this could be the sentiment only within my own industry, but not for others.)

Showcasing yourself as a person can be a ‘win’ when working as a solopreneur. Even if you are a bigger company, it’s always a good idea to show human faces behind your brand.

Use personal e-mail addresses and direct phone lines on your website contact page. Put up photos of people’s faces and their bios. Add a little quirkiness. It can make your company seem more personable, and less like its trying to ‘hide’ something.

Case #2 – Big brands use personalities in their marketing

Thankfully, the Daily Egg already has a great post on this, so I don’t need to delve deeply into it. Think Old Spice Guy.

Or, celebrity endorsements and the flip side of that: celebrity CEOs.

Richard Branson pose

Photo source The Guardian.

Would Virgin America be the same without Richard Branson? Cameron Herold, former CEO of 1-800 GOT JUNK, became so visible to the public, he used his laptop to sell advertising space. And sold out. No joke.

These CEOs give personalities to the companies they associate with as much as celebrity endorsements give personality to brands. Personalities just work.

Case #3 – People look for hired help on LinkedIn

It can be surprising what an optimized profile can do for a freelancer on LinkedIn. When starting a business, many people jump to start a Facebook business page or even a company listing on various social networks.

But those are less likely to impact you when first starting out.

Others try to use the ‘name’ fields of social media personal profiles to insert their company name (big pet peeve of mine). And still some will just never, ever put their photo online.

Why hide behind a company name?

If no one knows your business, they are more likely to be receptive to YOU as a person. As humans, we like meeting other humans. We identify with their passions and past experiences. We look for what we have in common.

When I first started out, most of my business came from referrals. In my second year, the big money driver came from my ‘beefed up’ LinkedIn profile. I was visible there, and I made sure of it. I watched a video interviewing Lewis Howes on how to do it, and it worked.

As a personal brand, you can increase your market reach through LinkedIn. It’s a place where serious businesses go to hire serious talent. You might not rank on SERPs right away, but you’ll likely have an easier time getting found within the LinkedIn ecosystem.

Case #4 – Photos of faces convert well with online ads

Ok, this is mostly true with Facebook (since Facebook ads use photos). Marketers have discovered that photos of faces work best when creating Facebook ads.

My brother teaches a successful online Facebook marketing course. He testifies that when doing split tests on his ads, nothing converts better than his profile photo.

faces convert

There is something to be said for this. Facebook ads allow for controlled tests. It’s not logos and ‘big brand’ associations that attract the most clicks; it’s people.

Case in point: it’s ok to be a person when marketing your products or services.

Examples of successful personal brands

Nothing can do the job of convincing better than examples! Here are a few stories of people who branded themselves instead of a company, and won big for it:

Lewis Howes

I’ll mention this one because earlier I said I watched an interview of him. I know he has a course with an actual title about LinkedIn marketing. But that’s not top of mind when I try to recall the information I want (or start googling it).

I just think: Lewis Howes = LinkedIn Marketing.

If he hid behind his business as “the LinkedIn marketing company,” he wouldn’t have been able to branch into other niche markets as easily as he has. The reason we believe we’ll get quality out of his other products is because of him.

For example, he also sells Facebook marketing, video marketing courses, and others. And his calls to action almost always use a clear photo of himself. People are attracted to people.

lewis hoses ad

Hank Green and John Green

If you’re a YouTube fan, you’ll know about Hank, John, Nerfighteria and “Don’t Forget To Be Awesome.” They’re also known by their YouTube channel username as “the Vlogbrothers.” Together they have achieved Internet celebrity status that leaks into real life.


Photo credit: Genevieve719 via Compfight cc

While collectively they brand several separate projects and appear as hosts on various channels, the backing of the Green name goes a long way. VidCon, Subbable and the Project For Awesome are just three examples of many.

Hank even made Emily Graslie popular through the channel, The Brain Scoop. After speaking on taxidermy so well in YouTube videos, she landed a career at the Field Museum. That is the power of personal branding: being able to create other personal brands.

Most of their projects include them, in one shape or another. Be it the author, the producer or the organizer, if John and Hank Green are behind it, it’s gonna be big.

Tim Ferriss

We know this guy fromThe 4-Hour Work Week. His book was rejected 26 times before it got published. When it did, we were amazed. What we didn’t expect was that his name, tagged with the “4-Hour” brand, would become iconic.

Want to master anything, get fit, quit your job and become rich at it? Listen to what Tim Ferriss has to say. I’ll bet you could also rival Bobby Flay in a throwdown if you read Tim’s book,The 4-Hour Chef.

But the part that gets me is this: He’s getting his own TV show named after him. Note this: The TV show was not named the “4-Hour” anything. It is titled as a “Tim Ferriss” something.

There are many more examples to share, but this blog would never end if we listed them all! Let us know some of your favorites in the comments below!

To conclude, being you works!

After reading through our case-in-points above and learning by example, we can see this is a no brainer.

If you want to start a business, consider whether you really need that new corporate image. Maybe people will like you just the way you are!

And if you’re hiding behind a big corporate logo, consider stepping into the limelight. It really is the people, not the brand, that inspire customer loyalty.



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Joyce Grace

Joyce Grace writes about WordPress, SEO, marketing, and other related topics at ManageWP, the WordPress management dashboard for managing any number of WordPress sites. In her other life, she runs a small Internet marketing business in Vancouver, Canada, where she helps clients market their companies online by performing SEO, copywriting and making websites.


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  1. Dora Nikols says:
    May 8, 2017 at 10:15 pm

    Great post,

    I know you talk about use your name for your website and business but what do you think about using your name for your blog?

  2. Paul Hanis says:
    December 21, 2016 at 7:07 pm

    Hi Joyce,

    I really appreciate your article! I’m struggling with this debate in my new branding endeavor, but in perhaps a lesser way. I’m a watercolor painter and ice sculptor, and intend to keep my name as central to my web presence, but I’m considering using a different handle on all the social media sites I intend to join. Example: @example instead of @paulhanis or @paulhanisart. I have a handle picked out that I like and that is available across the board. Do you feel like using an alternate handle/username is too much of a disconnect? My real name would still be seen on all the accounts and my paulhanis.com website will always be my homebase, I just feel like the alternate handle I have picked out gives a stranger a little more description and allure than some name they’ve never heard of.

    Thanks for your expertise!

    • Joyce Grace says:
      December 22, 2016 at 7:21 pm

      Hi Paul! Thanks for your comment. It’s hard to say without knowing the example you want to use, and also without knowing more of your business strategy in the long term. However, my gut, based on what you’re saying here alone, is to just stick with your name 🙂 You could also create two accounts on the social platforms, so you can secure the usage of a ‘business level’ brand in the future. This would apply if you wanted to extend your business and eventually hire a team to work with you. You wouldn’t want your team, for instance, tweeting from your personal account. But again, I would say it depends on your personal situation and the long term strategy involved 🙂

  3. Nev Rodda says:
    July 3, 2016 at 4:31 pm

    Totally agree Joyce, I recently had a client come to me with the same question in mind. For small or sole operators with specialised knowledge to share with a market, being the brand wins hands down and opens the doorway to public speaking and authority positioning.

  4. Michael says:
    April 21, 2016 at 12:35 am

    Great Blog…

    Every business owner should have complete knowledge about their business brand name as it effects a lot to start any business.

    Thanks for sharing information!!!

  5. Azman Nabi says:
    March 23, 2016 at 1:53 am

    Great post, Joyce,

    I want to add another successful personal brand to your list. You may heard about him before ;). the founder of this website Neil Patel.

    • Joyce Grace says:
      December 22, 2016 at 7:23 pm

      Oh of course 🙂 But keep in mind that when Neil started businesses, he wasn’t afraid to go the route of the company brand too. This makes things like Crazy Egg easier to sell. Also, when Neil writes his posts, I’m told it’s actually him writing them 🙂 Whereas a site like this can take authors from a variety of sources and expertise. But yes you’re right – he didn’t ignore the personal brand to go along with the company brand!

  6. Thomas says:
    October 27, 2015 at 2:40 am

    Hi there,

    First of all, thank you for the amazing content. It really is informatively helpful.

    I am a teenager who has sparked on the idea of stepping into the fitness industry as a future career. I am currently a high school junior, and have been planning on starting a self-hosted blog as well as nourish my social media following. I am taking various courses, and am particularly fascinated by marketing. However, before I embark on this ambitious (but serious) journey, I wonder if I how I should brand my…business? My goal is to provide followers (particularly people of the younger age group) fitness tips and motivation. Though I know there are already A TON of other blogs like this out there, I find myself to still be unique despite in this saturated market.
    To sum it up, here are my questions:
    If I am serious about building a business in the fitness industry, and have plans for starting a gym, building a blog and social media following–how should I brand myself?
    Should I hence be focused on personal branding, where everything is about promoting MYSELF, or should it be a somewhat separate ‘name’ or ‘community’ that I should try developing?

    Thank you so much in advance. Please let me know if you need further clarification.


    • Sean says:
      October 27, 2015 at 8:46 pm

      There are a couple schools of thought on this. One is that you shouldn’t name your business after yourself because you are not your business. Read the E-Myth book by Michael Gerber – he talks about that in depth. It’s really important. As a matter of fact, I wouldn’t even start a business until you read that book :).

    • Joyce Grace says:
      December 22, 2016 at 7:25 pm

      To follow up with Sean’s comment, you may also consider that your personal brand could theoretically turn into a business brand. Like many fashion designers – think Coco Chanel, Ralph Lauren, and so on. In the fitness world, I’m thinking of Steven Nash Fitness World – an amalgamation. Some finance companies and law firms do this too. Just food for thought 🙂 I think you’d want to strategize ahead as best as you can. Though no one has a crystal ball to tell you how things will end up in the future 🙂

  7. agung Kurniawan says:
    September 7, 2015 at 12:02 am

    This article give me some solution to my problem. I want to ask what if I had more than 1 business, right now I’m starting as and realtor but I also want to offer management consultancy. Is it ok to do it in one personal brand or do I need to focus on one ?

  8. Taneeka Bourgeois-daSilva says:
    July 15, 2015 at 10:42 am

    Nice article. When I first started out, I wasn’t sure whether I should promote the business or myself. I still go back and forth about this, but for the most part, I’m more focused on branding myself. I’m in the eduacation and writing field, so people gravitate to me quicker than they do my business. You’re right about having a personal picture displayed. People prefer to see a smile rather than a logo.

  9. Yogesh Shinde says:
    June 29, 2015 at 7:21 am

    Its an era of personal branding. Every one know who is behind the specific website or blog and that’s why its time to showcase our face and personality in the lime light.

  10. Melissa K. McCarthy says:
    April 6, 2015 at 5:12 pm

    I’m glad I found this because I went back and forth on this for a while. I still question whether I should keep going forward using my name. Even though I have been blogging for a while, I’m still new to all of this “branding” stuff. My name is in competion with a Hollywood actress, which has made for an interesting journey in trying to establish myself.

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      April 6, 2015 at 9:09 pm

      You’ve got a bigger challenge than most of us, but it may also give you a bump since there’s some name recognition. Personally, I’m all for branding yourself using your name. Once you’ve established yourself, you can leverage your “celebrity” to build other brands. I contend that, ultimately, people follow people, not businesses.

    • Joyce Grace says:
      April 7, 2015 at 4:37 pm

      Hi Melissa! I agree with Kathryn on this one. Have you considered creating an online name for yourself that would set you apart?

  11. Samantha Lee says:
    September 16, 2014 at 5:11 pm

    SOOO confused! So I just moved to a new marketplace. I am a realtor and I used to use my name as my brand back in NY. However, since moving to South Carolina I have changed and am revamping my brand. I am going with Carolina Real Estate Success Team. I was going with that because it would be much easier to see the brand in the furture than to sell, Samantha Lee Home Selling Team. Right? What do you do when you have branded yourself and want to sell the business? Thanks SO much.

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      September 17, 2014 at 10:43 am

      Samantha, that’s a challenge. One thing to consider is renaming your self-branded business before trying to sell it. Another, which would require some extra work, is to use the self-branded site to begin selling information products about real estate. It is perfectly acceptable for businesses to rebrand themselves, change names, or change focus. Good luck!

    • Joyce Grace says:
      April 7, 2015 at 4:42 pm

      I also see this as a challenge, however I think that in your case, the real value here is going to be your client list. You work one-on-one with people and meet them in person, most likely. So I think the mere prospect of selling your business, whether or not it’s in your name, is going to make people want to follow you and not stick with the new company. I mean, it’s not like you’re selling an impersonal product, like couch cushions or packets of tea. I had this experience when a financial advisor left a company she was with. I didn’t care about the brand name – I just wanted to work with her. I don’t even remember the name of the company. I do think that with industries like real estate, financial planning, mortgage brokering, and things like that, people expect a one-on-one relationship much, much more.

      Buuuuut – then again, think of how the JP Morgan name was able to brand itself and build a legacy. No one actually thinks they’re going to talk to JP Morgan himself when they walk into one of the institutions with that name 🙂

      I also work with a company called Ferguson Moving and Storage. Of course originally the company was owned by someone with the name “Ferguson” but that’s not the case anymore. But the Ferguson name ‘stuck’ with the audience.

      Just some food for thought.

  12. September 14, 2014 at 1:04 pm

    Interesting article. I understand that companies hire people and organize people to accomplish their goals. My company is my brand. My name is only a couple words away away from Sawyer TMS company name. Maybe I should be pushing Douglas L. Pilarski of Sawyer TMS executive search consultants? What do you think?

    • September 15, 2014 at 12:00 am

      Hi Doug! I would do both 🙂 Don’t try to combine them, that will get confusing. You can have a business brand and a personal brand. Eventually I think people will associate you as a person with your company. Building a company brand can be quite a bit harder than building a personal brand though. It’s just important to remember to put a face to a name, and to not hide behind your company logo all the time. I hope that helps!

    • Neil Patel says:
      September 15, 2014 at 12:44 pm

      Douglas, you bring up a good point. If your name is your brand then you should definitely adopt those types of strategies.

  13. Dumont Owen says:
    March 25, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    Great article! I just recently decided to brand myself and am in the process of setting that up. It’s great to see some verification that this was a good choice.

  14. March 23, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    Interesting article. Full of good information.thank you

  15. kw norris says:
    March 20, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    Thanks for the tips. I am restarting a new biz and find these suggestions quite exciting. KW

  16. Joyce Grace says:
    March 10, 2014 at 4:44 pm

    Glad it’s been helpful to y’all!

  17. March 10, 2014 at 1:43 pm

    This was a very interesting post, I can see why having your name as the brand name can make a big difference.

  18. Eyal Reich says:
    March 10, 2014 at 10:12 am

    As always, great post Joyce!

    • Lat says:
      July 31, 2017 at 9:43 am

      Photos of faces convert well with online ads

      Did not know about this method

  19. steve daar says:
    March 9, 2014 at 8:42 am

    Timely article, Joyce!

    Just launched my site with my name as the domain. Have been studying Tim, Lewis, and more to help with direction and strategy.

    – Steve

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