When I started my personal branding business 11 years ago, HR execs would tell me that companies would never want their employees to build their brands. In fact, one HR leader laughed me out of her office, saying “We don’t want our people to be known outside the company.”
Personal branding is now integrated into many companies’ talent and leadership development programs. Savvy, people-centric organizations understand that they need to get the best from their people, not the most, and they realize that each employee is an authentic part of the face of the company. Well before Mitt Romney’s much maligned “Corporations are people” comment, organizations began promoting the human aspect of their businesses: Chevron’s ‘Human Energy’, Cisco’s ‘The Human Network Effect’. Increasingly, external communications campaigns are featuring actual employees (GE’s ‘Pass the Wrench’ and IBM’s ‘I’m an IBMer’ for example).
Expressing the corporate brand is not just for the CEO anymore. Individual employees will be the spokespeople for their companies. Businesses once reluctant to allow social media sites to be available inside the company firewall, now build programs to help their employees post stellar LinkedIn profiles and timely tweets to communicate their brand. This trend will continue, erasing the line between the company and its people.