Personal Brand vs Business Brand


You’re starting your business or you’re evolving your brand to meet your audience’s needs…do you choose to invest your time, effort, money and energy into building a personal brand or a business brand?

How do you choose the right path for your business?  Let’s talk about it and give you some additional information that will help you make your decision.


When we talk about having a “personal  brand” vs a “business brand,” it doesn’t mean that if you have a personal brand it’s not a business.  The difference is in the naming of it. Did you name your business after yourself?  My business is HILARY HARTLING.  Think about other entrepreneurs and experts you know - Amy Porterfield, Jasmine Star, Jenna Kutcher, Lewis Howes, Brendon Burchard, Tony Robbins, etc.  Those are personal brands.

One thing not a lot of people talk about (but I believe is a deciding factor when choosing to name your business after yourself) is…do you have a slightly unique name? 

If you’re JANE SMITH, it’s gonna be hard to grab that URL, and social handles and unless you add a little flare to it, it may not stand out.  Think of Amy Porterfield - probably not a ton of Poterfields out there.  Think of Gary Vaynerchuk…these are pretty unique names and might be something to consider when choosing if a personal brand name is best for your business to stand out.

When you have a personal brand…

•  your business is named after you

•  you’re the heart of your business or the expert thought leader in your field

•  you have the opportunity to treat your name as the umbrella brand and to create (and NAME!) programs, products or offerings as sub-brands beneath it

•  your audience follows, interacts with and spends money with your business because of YOU

3 Considerations About Choosing a Personal Brand

01 - When YOU are the commodity…

If you are or would like to be a guest speaker, author, expert thought leader or you own a business where you are the commodity people want to buy (a coach, consultant or creative), then a personal brand might be just the ticket!  When you choose to name your business after yourself, you are clearly positioning yourself as the expert to know.


02 - When you’re a multi-passionate entrepreneur…

Choosing your name as the brand allows you to easily pivot or evolve your business without having to rebrand it.  You can change your focus from fashion blogger to career strategist, for instance, without having to create an entirely new brand because your name will always stay the same.  In this example, you’d just need to update your messaging and look.

Gary V. began as an online wine connoisseur doing a weekly wine show, and now he’s evolved to be one of the leading experts in digital marketing and how to grow your business online.  Major pivot in his business…still under his name.

Amy Porterfield has literally made a name for herself (personal brand) as an expert in making online marketing easy for entrepreneurs and business owners.  Her name is the brand because her student gravitate towards her step by step teaching style and easy to follow information and how-to.  They coming to learn from HER.

However, she’s made millions by creating sub-brands under the umbrella brand of Amy Porterfield: she’s branded her courses like Webinars That Convert, List Builders Society or Digital Course Academy.


03 - People won’t automatically know What You Do until you grow your brand awareness and recognition…

 One thing to be aware of when you choose to go with a personal brand is that as you’re establishing yourself and becoming known, people won’t know WHAT YOU DO just from your brand name alone.  (With a business brand, oftentimes, what you do or the benefit of what you do might be found right in your business name).

It’s not a bad thing, just something to be aware of.  It’s also why developing a rock-solid brand strategy & clear messaging is going to be your best friend with a personal brand.  For people to get to know what you do immediately after seeing your name you’ll need a strong positioning statement and an on-point tagline for your brand. 


If you create a brand name from scratch to represent your business, that’s a business brand.

 When you have a business brand…

•  you’re creating an identifiable brand that’s not your name

•  you’re choosing a name for your business that typically reflects what you do or represents a core value of your business - think CREATE & CULTIVATE, SUGAR PAPER, NIKE, or DRYBAR.

3 Considerations When Creating a Business Brand

01 - Your audience connects with what you do more quickly…

When you’re creating your brand name from scratch, you are usually (not always) clearly telling someone about what you do in the title of your business.  My brand used to be a business brand that did exactly this: BRANDPOLISH.

 [Read this post about my Brand Journey to understand why I chose to switch back to using my name for my business].

02 - Do you want to one day sell your business…

If you have the desire to someday grow your business to the point you’d like to sell it to someone else, creating a business brand name is a good choice for you because you’d never want to sell your company that has your name attached to it.

03 - Business brands are NOT as flexible if you want to pivot your business…

Imagine if I chose to pivot my business to being about personal growth and my business name was still BRANDPOLISH.  It wouldn’t make sense to have a life coaching or personal growth business under the a business name that’s clearly about polishing your brand. 

It manes I’d need to start a second brand that reflected what I was offering with this new direction. That’s why I personally like the freedom of creating brands underneath my own name - but it’s not for everyone.    


Whichever direction you decide to lean into for your business name, know that there is no right or wrong answer.   It has everything to do with what you do, who it’s for and how your audience will connect with you best. 

Think about what you’d like to be known for and what your vision is for where you’d like to head.  You’re allowed to change your mind.  You’re allowed to rebrand.  And you’re allowed to choose how much of your personal life you share even within a personal brand AND within a business brand.   

It’s a choice. Don’t let this decision stop you from moving your business forward.Choose one direction and try it for at least 6 months to gauge the reaction of your audience.If it’s not working as well as you thought, switch it and then be consistent with your decision.


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