There has been a good deal of discussion around whether having a strong personal brand is beneficial or detrimental to a company. Personal brand advocates claim that putting your name on your work and tweeting and blogging your own ideas and thoughts helps to enhance your own social standing, while also lending credibility and trust to your company. Detractors say that companies who become too closely associated with strong personal brands can become overshadowed by their contributors, or even alienate or insult members of their potential audience who dislike an individual, but might otherwise like the company.
In truth, there is no magic bullet. Each company and each individual needs to figure out what feels personally right to them. But, that's a pretty safe answer, isn't it?
The Personal Take
I think that personal brand can enhance a company much more than detract from it. Diversity is a cornerstone of success, and when I see a company that has a variety of people, all expressing their different interests, cares, and concerns, I see strength. The days of companies as huge, monolithic, unfeeling entities are quickly falling behind us, as we gain greater access to businesses through their presence online. When I interact with a company, I want to know there’s a human on the other side of the keyboard, and not a corporate policy.
The "no magic bullet" answer is the company line. The old way of doing business. A dying way. Customers or prospects don't want bland prescriptive advice; they want to know what you really think, so they can engage in a real conversation with you. Not everyone at your company has to agree with everything that you say, and you don't have to agree with what they say-- as long as you are saying something real and something interesting, you cannot lose.
There are exceptions to this, of course, such as when someone’s personal brand is highly destructive, insulting, or negative, but those cases are usually rare. As long as the people in your company are using common sense, they will most likely be adding much more value than they are detracting.
What do you think—is personal brand something that should be kept separate from company brands? Or do they enhance each other?