In our previous blog post, we discussed how you can effectively develop a personal brand and become the public face of your business or organization. The keys to developing an effective personal brand include creating a compelling persona by accentuating the better aspects of your personality while minimizing those that are less compelling, shaping your personal brand to appeal to your target market and forgoing uncomfortable or ineffective gimmicks. Now that you’ve established these essential components of your personal brand, it’s time to discuss and carefully consider what will happen once you step in front of your business and become its public face.

People Will Want To Meet You And Know More About You

Many consumers do research before choosing to patronize a business – most simply seek out reviews from current and former customers, but some want to know more, including how long a company has been in business, how many people they employ, if they have ever relocated and, finally, what awards or recognitions the company has received. For some, the stability of an established company speaks positively to their reputation, while others seek out attributes that they like and can identify with. Many people like to support local and locally-owned companies, while others may feel compelled to patronize a business with a long and interesting history.

You Must Be More Available To Others

When an entrepreneur becomes the public face of a business or organization, their personal brand essentially takes the place of their business brand, and it becomes necessary to share many aspects of your personal and professional history and accomplishments with prospective customers. Becoming the face of a business or brand doesn’t mean that your life is now a completely open book, but it is necessary to become more open and available to others, especially at public events, and seeking out opportunities to introduce yourself and share your personal story with others. These opportunities can include public speaking events at conventions, conferences and smaller events held by organizations such as your local chamber of commerce. If you don’t feel comfortable speaking to groups in public or sharing your story, or the idea of mingling and meeting new people is intimidating, you may want to reconsider taking a public role as the face of your business.

Prepare To Face Personal Complaints, Criticism And Gossip

There is another, sometimes more personally uncomfortable consequence of becoming the public face of your brand: when a client or customer is unhappy or disgruntled, you may become the personal and often public target of their ire. As professionals, we have all likely dealt with an unfortunate situation in which a client or customer was unhappy or disgruntled, but it was likely more of an impersonal situation in that the client or customer directed their complaint or ire at the business. Once you become the public face of your business, many clients and customers will hold you personally responsible for the actions of the business, or for the actions of one of your employees. While you are ultimately responsible for the satisfaction of your clients and customers, you may be emotionally unprepared when a public and sometimes very personal complaint or criticism is lodged, especially over the Internet.

Reconsider Some Public Activities

As we previously discussed, creating a compelling personal brand involves accentuating your positive attributes while downplaying and sometimes omitting the negatives. Once you become the public face of your business, it is important to carefully consider and sometimes rethink activities that you may have felt comfortable doing in the past, such as commenting or discussing controversial topics in public or on social media. While some business owners feel compelled to be politically active or to share other controversial opinions, it is important to consider the ramifications of alienating any segment of your target market.

Should Someone Else Be The Public Face Of Your Company?

After carefully considering some of the responsibilities and consequences of becoming the public face of your business, you may be more hesitant than you were before to take on this role. Not everyone is willing and able to become a public figure, even a minor one, and it is better to consider going another, less personal route with the branding of your business than damaging your personal brand and the brand of your business. However, some business owners seek a compromise – instead of becoming the face of their business, they appoint an employee or manager to take that role, or they have sought out a former owner to become a promotional “figurehead” of the company. Perhaps the most famous promotion figurehead of a company was Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy’s. Although Mr. Thomas resigned from running the daily operations of Wendy’s in 1982, he spent the remainder of the 80s and the 90s appearing in commercials and other advertisements as the face of the company, and many believed that he was the actual owner and leader of Wendy’s during that time.

Are The Risks Worth It?

As the owner or manager of your business, you should carefully consider whether or not allowing someone else to become the public face of your business is a good idea. While the previous example of Mr. Thomas was a resounding marketing and branding success, it is important to remember that by handing this role to a third-party, you are ceding the branding and public face of your company to someone else, and this can backfire. If one of your employees becomes the public face of your company, what will you do if you have to terminate their employment? What will happen if they commit a public gaffe, or share a controversial opinion? It may be better to create a less personal brand for your business, rather than risk its continued success and good standing in the community.