"What people have learned to value is that the individual person is more important than the overall brand.”  -Donnie Boivin

Personal branding is something financial brands often overlook when it comes to building relationships with their customers. But it’s human nature for people to form connections with individuals, not companies. What does this mean for your financial brand?

James Robert Lay gained insights from a thought leader on the topic of personal branding on a recent Banking on Digital Growth Podcast. Donnie Boivin is the CEO of Success Champion Networking and author of How To Be A Success Champion: Business Strategy For Badasses.

Big Business, Big Names, Big Branding

For decades, having a “big name” was associated with success in the financial world. The most recognizable banks, credit unions, and investment companies dominated the marketplace.

This led to an intense focus on sleek, corporate-style branding techniques where building ever-bigger brand recognition was always the ultimate goal. Anything financial brands could do to increase their company brand recognition was worthwhile.

But lately, branding experts like Donnie Boivin have been wondering whether the focus on company branding has caused brands to lose sight of personal branding.

Individual humans are the ambassadors of any brand. What does this mean for financial brands? What messages are its individual human beings sending and receiving?

Donnie points out that when one superstar salesperson leaves a company, it’s common for them to take 75% of their top accounts with them. These valuable accounts had relationships with the individual salesperson, not necessarily the company. When the salesperson walked out the door, so did those connections. That’s the power of personal branding.

The Definition of “Personal Brand”

Donnie defines a personal brand as “what everybody says when you’re no longer in the room.” What would a group of people say about you if you walk away?

Personal branding can also be defined in terms of authenticity, which is about sharing personal stories that resonate with others to create trust and interpersonal intimacy. Without authenticity, most people won’t believe in your personal brand.

Your personal brand isn’t about boring daily details like what you had for breakfast or the fact that you have a dog. It’s about deeper, more intimate information that might be slightly awkward to share but resonate with other people.

For example, Donnie went public with his ADHD diagnosis at age 45. He found that his social media audience was instantly interested in the path that led to his diagnosis and how he handles his ADHD in his daily life. This personal challenge resonates on a deep level with his audience and helps them feel that they can identify with him.

Don’t Get Hung Up on “Like”

We live in a culture that’s obsessed with being liked. We can add our thumbs-up to photos and “like” quotes online. Celebrities keep track of their followers and likes. Whenever we share something in the digital space, we think, “Will people like this?”

Donnie cautions financial brands not to get too wrapped up in being liked. Financial relationships aren’t based entirely on the concept of being liked. A banking relationship, for example, also involves crucial factors like trust and respect.

Related Content: Building a Personal Brand Means Investing In Yourself 

When you approach a bank about a mortgage or new checking account, your top priority isn’t necessarily liking the bank or even the individual loan officer. It’s more important to be able to trust them with your money and believe that they’ll handle your banking transactions smoothly. You don’t want conflict with them, but you aren’t hung up on liking them.

In terms of your personal branding, there’s no need to obsess about being liked either. It’s more important to focus on being authentic. Who you are is good enough!

As James Robert puts it, “Break free from these self-limiting beliefs that stand in the way of building a personal brand.”

Financial Leaders vs. Personal Brands

Donnie’s work with financial brands has shown him that financial leaders put a huge amount of pressure on the people underneath them. They’re forcing employees to use scripts and follow strict branding procedures, crushing them under the weight of the brand.

Meanwhile, some extraordinary workers are still exceeding their quotas every month, thrilling their customers, and pushing the limits of what it means to be a great employee. Many of these top-notch employees don’t necessarily fit the mold of the ideal employee on paper. 

Related Content: Why Financial Brand Leaders Should Build Their Personal Brand 

Your best employees could be particularly hilarious, informative, polished, sweet, or just charismatic in a way that’s hard to put your finger on. They might have wild hair or sophisticated fashion sense that customers find charming. Yet if your company’s top leaders drew a picture of “the ideal employee,” it probably wouldn’t look like these real-world superstars.

Your best employees are succeeding because of their personal branding. They might not think of it that way, but their brand is what makes them magnetic. The employer’s brand might play a role in attracting customers, but the employee’s personal brand is what made the customer smile and come back next time.

The Connection Between Community and Personal Branding

Don’t forget about the role community-building plays in personal branding. Facebook rocked the online world because it helped people feel connected within digital communities. Social media in general builds communities of like-minded people who can geek out on things together.

Similarly, financial brands can build their communities in person and online. Brands need champions - people who speak enthusiastically about brand benefits. Champions provide a huge amount of value to both brands and customers because they serve as megaphones and amplify important messages.

For an individual, there are numerous things you can do to connect with your community while you begin to understand, build, and champion your personal brand. Donnie recommends starting with some of the most popular and user-friendly options like LinkedIn and podcasts.

Related Content: The Seismic Shift in Personal Branding

Try this exercise Donnie uses to help people expand their personal brands. Spend a few hours writing down everything significant that’s happened in your personal and professional journey over the past 10 years or so.

What milestones did you reach?

What books did you read?

Who were the most influential people around you?

What lessons have you learned?

Next, put just one story a day on LinkedIn for 30 to 60 days. Don’t worry about whether anyone reads it or likes it. Just keep going, creating your brand and developing the habit of consistently communicating your brand story.

Remember that like life, personal branding is a long journey. Your brand story develops slowly over time and there’s no telling where it will lead. Stay authentic and you’ll always stay on track.

To learn more about Donnie Biovin’s perspective on personal branding, just text the word SUCCESS to 817-318-6030. He’ll respond with his social handles plus freebies and other resources to help you expand your personal brand.