Employee personal brand: building healthy bridges, not steady walls

employee personal brand
READ TIME – 5 minutes

Recently, I had a conversation with several marketing managers and HR professionals about cultivating in-house creators. 

Many of them asked how to motivate their teams to create content on behalf of the company and the struggles behind it. 

I understand their concerns.

For over 9 years, I worked at Creatopy with a marketing team that understood the power of content creation, personal branding, and sharing work on social media. However, almost nobody took it seriously or saw it as part of their job.

There are concerns about what to publish, how the company will react, and how posting on social media can benefit an employee.

Before we dive into solutions, let’s acknowledge the most common concerns in an organization regarding publishing content as an individual and building an employee personal brand.

Common Concerns: Organization and Employee Perspectives

The Organization Perspective 

Managers and executives often hesitate to put their colleagues and teams in the spotlight. Their concerns about employees building personal brands include:

  • What if competitors steal our employees after they build their personal brand?
  • What if employees focus more on their side gigs than their daily work?
  • What if they use the company name to build their own name?
  • What if more people follow them instead of our brand on social media?
  • What if we can’t control what they publish online?

These concerns are legitimate, but they can be addressed. 

An employee personal brand can be a better strategy than spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on banner advertising or outside influencers. 

The Employee Perspective 

Employees often wonder:

  • Will I get fired for building a personal brand?
  • How much control does the company have over my content?
  • Will the company think I have too much time for personal projects?
  • How can I balance my personal brand with the company brand?

In these uncertain times, employees tend to play it safe and follow management directives without setting healthy boundaries or communicating their expectations.

Motivating the Team to Build Their Personal Brand

Combining personal branding with company content creation is about building bridges, not walls. 

For example, when I went on stages to talk about content marketing or social media, I made sure that every time I got the opportunity to talk about the brand, I would make it in a much more natural way. 

By setting clear guidelines, building trust, providing resources, creating feedback loops, and celebrating successes, both managers and employees can thrive. 

Think about this: it’s exactly how you build a healthy relationship. You can’t have a sustainable relationship if you don’t trust each other, don’t provide feedback, or don’t have clear expectations.

This approach enhances individual growth and propels the company forward. 

Encourage collaboration and celebrate mutual benefits to create a win-win scenario for everyone involved.

Now let’s dive into these 5 steps and understand the same playbook from different perspectives:

Step 1: Set Clear Guidelines and Expectations

As someone who’s been in the trenches, I know the importance of clear communication and defined goals. Setting guidelines not only helps keeping everyone on the same page but also paves the way for creativity and innovation.

For Managers:

  • Keep talent on board: Develop a clear strategy offering growth opportunities and recognizing employees who contribute to both their personal and the company’s brand. Communicate these benefits regularly.
  • Minimize side gig distractions: Set clear job expectations and performance goals. Encourage side projects but ensure they don’t interfere with primary responsibilities. Create an environment where employees can follow their passions. ConvertKit, for example, supports their team in pursuing personal interests, like Thom Gibson, who publishes a newsletter about staying in shape as a work-from-home dad.

For Employees:

  • Job security reassurance: Understand that building a personal brand is valued and not a threat to your job. Balance your personal projects with your company responsibilities. During my time at a SaaS company, I woke up at 5 AM to work on side gigs.

Define content boundaries: Clarify what content can be shared and what should remain private. Talk with your manager or HR to understand content boundaries.

Step 2: Build a Trusting and Collaborative Culture

Imagine a workplace where everyone feels valued and encouraged to shine—sounds amazing, right? Building a culture of trust and collaboration transforms this dream into reality, fostering growth and mutual respect.

For Managers:

  • Support mutual growth: Encourage employees to share their personal achievements as part of the company’s story. Managers can share colleagues’ content on internal platforms and engage with their posts.
  • Embrace social sharing: View employee engagement as an extension of the company’s reach. Celebrate their online presence as part of the brand.

For Employees:

  • Show alignment: Regularly demonstrate how your personal brand activities benefit the company. Share insights, promote values, and highlight collaborations.
  • Balance content: Create a content schedule that blends personal and company posts.

Step 3: Offer Resources and Training

Remember how great it feels to learn something new and exciting? Providing resources and training to your team can reignite that spark, helping them develop skills that benefit both their personal growth and the company’s success.

For Managers:

  • Provide tools: Give employees access to content creation tools, templates, and training to boost both their personal and the company’s brand.
  • Invest in development: Offer workshops and training on content creation, social media strategies, and personal branding.

For Employees:

  • Use company support: Use company resources to enhance your content creation skills and better integrate your personal brand with the company’s image.
  • Keep learning: Participate in continuous learning opportunities to stay updated on trends and best practices.

Step 4: Create a Feedback Loop

Feedback isn’t just about correcting mistakes—it’s a powerful tool for growth and improvement. Regular, open communication helps align everyone’s efforts and ensures that both personal and company goals are met.

For Managers:

  • Regular check-ins: Have regular feedback sessions to discuss content strategies, challenges, and successes. Align on goals and expectations.
  • Open communication: Encourage open dialogue about personal branding efforts and how they align with company objectives.

For Employees:

  • Seek feedback: Ask for feedback on your content from peers and managers to ensure it aligns with company values.
  • Be adaptable: Be open to constructive criticism and willing to adjust your content strategy.

Step 5: Celebrate Successes

Who doesn’t love a good celebration? Recognizing and celebrating achievements boosts morale and motivates everyone to keep pushing boundaries, creating a positive and dynamic work environment.

For Managers:

  • Recognize achievements: Publicly celebrate employees who balance their personal brand with company goals through shout-outs, social media posts, or newsletters.
  • Incentivize participation: Offer bonuses, awards, or professional development opportunities to encourage content creation.

For Employees:

  • Share milestones: Keep your team and managers updated on your personal branding achievements. Show how these successes contribute to the company’s visibility.

Show gratitude: Appreciate the company’s support in your personal branding efforts. This strengthens relationships and encourages ongoing collaboration.

If you care, they will care

Do you want to motivate your team to build their personal brand and create content on behalf of your company? 

Understand that combining personal branding with company content creation is a win-win strategy when done right. By setting clear guidelines, fostering a culture of trust, providing resources, maintaining open communication, and celebrating successes, both managers and employees can thrive. 

This balanced approach enhances individual growth and strengthens the company’s brand, creating a collaborative environment where everyone benefits.

Build bridges, not walls, and watch your team and company flourish together.