Who Owns your Personal Brand? The Employer or the Person.


Who owns your personal brand sounds like a 17th century concept when people owned other people. In the 21st century the social web, individuals and brands are driving the conversation on who owns your personal brand. So I start this post by posing a question can anyone own your personal brand?

I would argue that you own your personal brand and the qualities that make you interesting and irresistible. This argument begins to blur when you start talking about your digital identity and personal digital network.

Let’s start off by defining personal branding.

Definition of Personal BrandingIt is the process of identifying what makes you unique and authentically packaging and communicating your story in a way that creates value and helps you to solve a problem.

Personal branding in a digital world has become a necessary evil whether you subscribe to the theory or not for the following reasons: (1) the content consumption habits of people and corporations have changed, (2) the instability of the job market and (3) shortcut for talent seekers (small businesses, employers, and educational institutions).

Qualities that Successful Personal Brands Possess

o Operating in your Genius – If you take a highly successful person and they lose their wealth, their career success is diminished, or job the true essence of who is what will enable them to make bounce back regain what they lose. True genius is not in how much money you have made but in understanding an identifying the following three points:

• How you are wired – Understanding how you think and operate.
• Platform/Space – Identifying our area of expertise.
• Business Model – Identifying a method or process for how your ideas makes money.

o Unique Personal DNA – No company or entity can own your character, personality, or creativity; they can only have the opportunity to own what you have created.

o Creativity – A corporation can never own your creativity, they can lease your creative juices. They can own the ideas you create during your working relationship.

The Personal Brand Benefits Breakdown (Quick Snapshot)

There can be a mutually beneficial engagement between personal brands to the employer.



Who benefits from the personal brand when it operates within the employer brand? The employers primary benefit is identifying talent.

Employer Brand
o Awareness – Helps identify potential candidates for a position.
o Data Points – Provide more information to make an informed decision on a potential candidate.
o Network – Maybe. Depending on your job responsibilities your network could be an asset. It is a big ‘if’.

Personal Brand
o Awareness – Helps potential employer identify you.
o Value – Helps you to package yourself so that you can fully leverage your talent.
o Digital Footprint (On-line) – Helps make you searchable.

In conclusion change is the order of the day and the following four issues will have to be dealt with policies, people, responsibilities, and cultural change.

o Policy versus People – Is there a risk? The answer is yes concerning person and employer brands. The fact that you are apart of the company it is no longer perfect and proper guidelines have to be set so that people can operate successfully. Shining the brass on the Titanic or creating policies that override the value and good of using social media, like with ESPN will have to be addressed.

o Corporate Guidelines – Coming soon to an employer near you are corporate guidelines for employee engagement with the social web.

o Responsibilities – There is a two way street with the employer and the employee to be socially and ethically responsible.

o Fear – Fear of the unknown. This is new territory so there are a lot of unknowns concerning the usage of social media in corporate structures.

“Despite that social technologies can improve customer relationships, the risks may be too great for some companies to bear, as a result, some corporations will shy away from allowing employees to have personal brands.”
Jeremiah Owyang

Brands are ultimately powered by people so it is unrealistic to think that people won’t benefit from the social interaction of social media in a job context. Employer and personal brands can co-exist, much of the value for the employer is in identifying the talent unless there is a direct connection between your job function and your network that impact the bottom line.

At the end of the day cream always rise to the top, just like great athletes find a way to impose their will on the game. For example Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers is unstoppable you don’t have to set a million screens or run plays for him he will score period regardless of who is guarding him. Stars make it happen. If you take away the engagement of personal brands within an employer brand the stars will rise I guarantee you.

  • Adeola

    Will you be in the Houston area on Sept 10? With the National Black MBA Houston chapter. Wanted to know if you could speak to our members

  • http://hajjflemings.com/ Hajj E. Flemings


    Thank you for reading this blog post, I will follow-up with you directly.

  • http://www.twitter.com/mariobox Mario Sanchez Carrion

    Hi Hajj: I think that in most cases it is a symbiotic relationship. For most people, the companies we work for become ingredients in our personal brand mix. Working for IBM, Procter & Gamble or Harvard will undoubtedly enhance your personal brand, the same way Lehman Bros. will probably damage it. As individuals become more successful, their personal brands can benefit (and in some cases overshadow) those of the companies they work for: think Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls or Steve Jobs and Apple. But ultimately, to answer the question, it is the individual who owns (and is responsible for) his/her personal brand.

  • http://twitter.com/hellobeauty Shara

    Great article, Hajj. Will you be hosting any seminars or events in Atlanta, GA?

  • http://hajjflemings.com/ Hajj E. Flemings


    Thanks for the comment. Atlanta is a market that I want to to get to, I will keep you posted when I am in the area.

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