Case Study: The True Value of Personal Branding for Entrepreneurs

24 June, 2015

Wayne Gosling - CEO Groupon SA and Trish Holdengarde - Strategic Business Intuitive and Coach

Wayne Gosling – CEO Groupon SA and Trish Holdengarde – Strategic Business Intuitive and CoachThe branding experts assure us that building your personal brand helps to position you as the go-to person in your industry. They claim that your reputation gives you credibility and smoothes the path to greater business ventures. By gaining a deeper understanding of yourself, they say, you’re able to operate with more focus and clarity, excel at your work and attract more opportunities.

Sounds amazing, but is it true?

Prompted by personal and business challenges, some entrepreneurs have embraced the personal branding journey to create more for their businesses and themselves. I asked two business owners from diverse industries and sizes sticky questions about their personal brand journey, their frustrations and subsequent results. Here’s what they had to say.

What were the frustration points you faced before you started your personal branding journey?

“I was unclear on how to position my brand and how to grow it. I didn’t know what people thought of my personal brand and how to change any negative perceptions, or reinforce positive ones. This made me shy away from putting myself forward.”

Wayne Gosling – CEO Groupon South Africa

“How to develop my business in a clear, authentic and focused approach was hugely frustrating for me. I didn’t have the knowledge or expertise to develop a communication plan or know how to maximise my social media platforms. I knew personal branding was a vital component in taking my business to the next level.”

Trish Holdengarde – Strategic Business Intuitive and Coach

How has personal branding specifically addressed those problems?

WG: Personal branding has given me a strategy and framework to grow my brand. More specifically, it has informed how to emphasize my strengths and manage my development areas.

TH: Working with a personal branding specialist has highlighted for me what I want to be known for, why I desire this, who the key influencers are that I need buy-in from and how to achieve the results I’m looking for.

What tactics did you try before you started developing your personal brand? What were the results?

WG: Random social media posts without any focus; the odd directionless press release about me. No results. In fact, my partner was seen as the driving force in our business due to his coherent personal brand.

TH: I had a website, was active on Twitter and was on the fringe of LinkedIn, but none of these were generating any leads. The networks I attended weren’t right for my particular consulting business either. Referrals and public speaking did work for me though.

What was the big a-ha moment when you decided you needed to try personal branding?

WG: When I realised why my partner was seen as the driving force behind our business’ success.

TH: My a-ha moment came when I first met a fellow entrepreneur and witnessed the detailed process she undertook to develop her own brand. I experienced first hand how powerful personal branding is for a business owner.

What were the top 3 things you loved about the personal branding process? Why?

WG: 1. Learning more about myself. Going through the branding process allows you to reflect on who you are, both strengths and weaknesses, as well as what others think of you. 2. Having a framework to grow my brand. 3. Confidence when I’m in the public eye, especially in front of the media.

TH: 1. The personal branding journey changed the way I saw myself. Entrepreneurs sometimes get lost in all the administration, marketing, service delivery and seven day weeks that go with being an entrepreneur. It’s easy to lose contact with who you are as an individual and why you do what you do. The personal branding process reclaimed this for me. 2. Getting feedback from my existing clients via the brand survey was a hugely affirming and inspiring moment for me. 3. Working with a personal branding specialist. She embodied everything I needed and wanted in an individual who was working intimately with my personal brand. She was ethical, trustworthy and fastidious about client satisfaction throughout the entire process.

What factors, in your mind, contribute to a positive personal branding experience? On the flipside, what makes for a negative personal branding experience?

WG: Being honest with yourself, open to criticism, confident in who you are and being open to growth makes personal branding a positive experience. What makes it negative is holding on to your own preconceived ideas about who you are and closing off to the process because it’s damaging to the ego.

TH: Working with an expert who is meticulous and empathetic was a very positive and highly personal experience. I can’t comment on a negative brand experience, as I didn’t have one.

What specific problems did personal branding address that other business owners might be able to relate to?

WG: If you wonder what employees think of you, how you come across in the press, what the person on the other side of the boardroom table thinks of you, then a personal branding process will help you find out.

TH: How to communicate your brand via a polished, professional, expert message that reflects your values and your expertise.

Have you experienced any ‘big win’ business results because of personal branding?

WG: Increased confidence.

TH: An increasing client base generated off my new LinkedIn profile and more relevant networking, both online and face-to-face.

What’s the single biggest reason you would recommend personal branding to fellow entrepreneurs?

WG: To get a clear and concise framework on how to accentuate your strengths and limit your weaknesses, particularly in the public eye, allowing you to go about your daily interactions with confidence.

TH: It redefines your value to your clients, the value of your business brand and identifies whom to align with in terms of clients and strategic partners.

What do you think? Are the advantages of personal branding evident? Could it help you in your business? Is personal branding for everyone?

Is it for you?

This post originally appeared in Your Business Magazine June/July 2015

Robyn Young - Personal Leadership Branding for Executives

About the Author

Robyn Young

As a personal leadership branding strategist, Robyn Young helps individuals identify and articulate their unique strengths, values and goals, empowering them to build an authentic personal brand that resonates with their stakeholders.

Robyn has a keen eye for aligning personal attributes with professional aspirations, helping her clients project a powerful and compelling image in their chosen field.