Personal Branding For Founders: Online or Offline?

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As a founder, the decision to be online or offline largely depends on your personal branding strategy and the goals you aim to achieve. Personal branding for founders is as much a business decision as any in your startup. There are benefits to both being visible and being invisible, and ultimately, it’s up to you to determine which approach is best for your business and personal brand. We’ve compiled a few pros and cons of each below to help you make up your mind.

Being a visible founder

Being visible can help establish a personal connection with your audience and build trust with your customers. By sharing your story, vision, and values, you can create a strong personal brand that people can relate to and connect with. Being visible can also help you build a community around your brand, which can be invaluable for word-of-mouth marketing and building a loyal customer base.

However, being visible also comes with risks. It can make you vulnerable to criticism and negative feedback, and it can distract you from your core business activities. Additionally, if you’re not comfortable with being in the public eye, being visible can be mentally and emotionally taxing.

Examples of some of the most well-known, visible founders include Richard Branson and Elon Musk. They are incredibly active online, and are always putting out engaging content.

Being an invisible founder

On the other hand, being invisible can help you focus on your business without being distracted by external factors. It can also help you maintain a sense of privacy and control over your personal life. Being invisible can also give you the flexibility to pivot your business or personal brand without having to worry about how it will affect your public image.

However, being invisible can also make it harder to build a personal connection with your audience, and it can limit your ability to establish yourself as a thought leader or influencer in your industry.

Being invisible however does not mean hiding. It can simply mean not actively participating in the online space. Your website, and any company material should still list you as a founder, but thats where the leads end.

A happy medium

Regardless of which way you lean in this debate, there is always a happy medium that can be achieved. Being a visible founder does not mean you need to spend 20 hours per week networking, while  also supercharging your Instragram, Twitter and Linkedin. Likewise, being an invisible founder does not mean that you disappear from view, delete your socials and pretend that you don’t exist.

A happy medium might be to spend 1 hour per week doing some online networking on a place like Lunchclub, and 1 hour per week interacting on LinkedIn. If you wish to keep social media for personal purposes, than simply don’t share your handles, keep it private and limit it to an exclusive group of people. Your reputation stays intact, you are adding value, and your users still get to see who you are.

Deciding on your personal branding approach

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to whether you should be visible or invisible as a founder. It’s important to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of each approach and determine which one aligns with your personal branding goals and business objectives.

This decision will however be easier if you understand what your business stands for, and who your target audience is. Will they want to see a face behind the brand? If so, is your personal brand aligned with the business?

These are all questions you must answer, and covered in more depth in our Growth and Immersive Branding Programmes.

Next Steps

○ Review this reading
○ Define your business pillars & objectives
○ Conduct a personal brand audit
○ Understand how to leverage your personal brand

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