How thought leaders approach personal branding and its impact on their companies

In today's era, personal branding has become a pervasive and indispensable part of working professionals' lives. It opens the door to a wide array of opportunities. However, it is crucial to ensure that personal branding aligns harmoniously with the workplace's objectives. talks to industry professionals to find out more

Shreya Negi
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How thought leaders approach personal branding and its impact on their companies

Gone are the days when it took an industry professional an article in print or a byte on television to claim the title of thought leader. Given today's fast-paced advertising and marketing arena, and the rise of digital media and industry events happening in and out of Delhi and Mumbai amongst other hubs, one can find industry professionals sharing their viewpoints on panel discussions or in some cases sharing personal journeys as part of seminars.

But in times like these, when LinkedIn has literally eased our lives and provided us a platform to not just connect with colleagues and peers but also prospective employers, and every other individual, let alone the thought leaders is leveraging the platform for personal brand building.

Hence, decided to speak to industry veterans about the importance of personal branding for them as well as the impact it has on their organisations and found out that most of them agree that today personal branding has become an indispensable part of anyone’s and everyone’s lives.

Adityan Kayalakal

Sharing his views on the same, Adityan Kayalakal, Head- Marketing and Founding Team Member, Veera, stated that today individual brands are much easier to create than before. Earlier one had to appear on the news or be talked about in entertainment circles which meant that only a handful of teams were really known. But the proliferation of social platforms has allowed people to choose not just larger figures to follow, but also the ones that we might have a specific interest in.

“Today I’d argue that being on these platforms is crucial to discovery and discussion more so than offline events because it lets people express a pov, more frequently, creates a more detailed bio-data which provides critical and continuous narrative and puts the news out there on what they are doing in an instant. The drawback is that the spotlight is on you at all times,” he said.

With this, he also pointed out that when it comes to sharing one’s PoV, it’s not just the leaders but every professional who now has a voice which really allows great ideas to come from anywhere while also giving leaders a much larger soapbox to share their life lessons.

Rubeena Singh

According to Rubeena Singh, Country Manager (India and MENA), AnyMind Group, it is personal branding that helps one become conscious of he/she is different from others, ultimately allowing them to position themselves uniquely.

Whilst helping one stand out, personal branding also helps one become more relatable, especially in times when people want to do business with people and not faceless companies, thereby helping one win new businesses for one’s firm and also help them stand out among other potential job applicants in some cases.

“To build your personal brand, one ought to define his/her niche and then create content that may be useful to peers or fellow professionals consistently rather than doing promotions. In my case, my personal brand is built on the pillars of digital marketing which is my profession, women leadership which is all about maintaining a healthy work-life balance and work wear which is my personal interest,” she said.

Shrenik Gandhi

According to Shrenik Gandhi, Co-founder and CEO, White Rivers Media, building a personal brand on platforms like LinkedIn and Instagram and engaging in industry events can indeed impact workplace reach, perception, and awareness significantly.

“Building a personal brand alongside the brand one works for is becoming increasingly crucial because as individuals, we carry a unique authenticity that can resonate with the audience in ways beyond corporate brands and people tend to trust individuals more than faceless brands. Personal branding allows for the sharing of personal stories, rendering both the individual and the business more relatable and can lead audiences into new ventures or businesses when transitioning,” he said.

Moreover, he also opined that leveraging his personal brand to forge meaningful connections and partnerships has helped him in nurturing a positive company image extending beyond the organisation, building trust among customers, instilling investor confidence, and offering a competitive advantage while attracting top talent, which in turn enhances employee motivation, teamwork, and customer-centric culture.

Tara Kapur

As per Tara Kapur, Marketing Head, Duolingo English Test (India), personal branding helps one’s workplace in multiple ways for it showcases the culture of an organisation and humanises it. Also, when people talk about their organisations, it not only helps individuals to understand more about the organisation but in some cases leads to the development of an inclination towards joining the place as well which is why it is extremely beneficial from a recruitment perspective.

“Even when it comes to sharing one’s work, you are able to create awareness around new projects and work that your company is doing, but more importantly you’re able to talk about the intent- the ‘why’ behind the project, which is great to create clarity and additional context,” she said.

But having said that, she also shared the viewpoint that personal branding is only beneficial when it remains personal and it is at an individual’s discretion to share what they want to share and why, because only then will personal branding be the most impactful and relatable to the audience engaging with the content shared.

“For me, posting and sharing my perspective on LinkedIn happened quite organically, I enjoy the process of creating content, sharing insights and writing. I think being a marketer, I am already quite inclined towards social media and how it works and hence posting my perspective felt quite natural on LinkedIn. However, for me Instagram is private, and I am not comfortable using that platform as a place to share beyond my personal network,” she added.

Harshil Karia

Schbang’s Founder and Level SuperMind’s Co-Founder, Harshil Karia, also believes that it is the ever-evolving world of social media marketing which has made it crucial for not only brands but also brand owners to maintain a strong online presence in order to amplify one's organisational reach through platforms like LinkedIn and Instagram.

“A strong personal brand that resonates with the core values of one's company can go a long way in uplifting brand identity and driving growth,” he stated.

On a slightly personal note, he also shared that consumer interactions with his agency have increased significantly upon building his personal brand because in this way he can really speak to the right stakeholders.

Priyanka Gill

Priyanka Gill, Co-founder, Good Glamm Group, and CEO, Good Media Co, also shared that LinkedIn is a powerful tool for connecting with industry peers and potential partners for it helps one stay in touch with a vast network of professionals and to make the most of these platforms, it's important to maintain an authentic and consistent presence.

“On LinkedIn, I share valuable insights, experiences, and industry expertise, which helps me foster connections with professionals, fellow entrepreneurs, and thought leaders. On the other hand, Instagram gives a more personal glimpse into my life and experiences. This dual approach ensures that I connect with a diverse audience. However, it's crucial to strike a balance, addressing potential drawbacks such as privacy considerations and the efficient allocation of time for maintaining our digital footprint,” she said.

Having said that, she also mentioned that while being digital is undeniably influential, in-person participation in industry events remains crucial because it facilitates face-to-face interactions, deeper networking, and the exchange of innovative ideas.

“In today's competitive business landscape, building a personal brand alongside the brand you work for is not just crucial; it's a necessity. It adds an invaluable dimension to your professional journey, enhancing credibility and influence. My motivation to create my personal brand comes from my love for storytelling and my desire to make a significant impact. To further enhance this goal, I started the "Dream Build Scale" podcast, where I share real stories of individuals who have built remarkable brands and businesses,” she added.

Karthi Marshan

As per Karthi Marshan, Advisor, Kotak Mahindra Bank, professional social platforms can surely help B2B professionals build their personal brands while helping create awareness and a positive predisposition for their organisation's brand as well.

Quoting Marshall McLuhan who once said that the medium is the message, he highlighted that the fact that a somewhat dull professional networking platform that people went to only when they were looking for their next jobs has suddenly become so vibrant and buzzy is its own answer.

“What the scientists call the network effect is finally kicking in for this space as well, and a lot of professionals are starting to get on board due to FOMO,” he chuckled.

Upon being questioned as to what are the pros and cons of building a personal brand in today’s times, Anymind Group’s Singh mentioned that while having and building a personal brand does help one in establishing his/her expertise and credibility and creates a unique identity which can help one stand out in a crowd, what it also aids in is the expansion of one’s network and opportunities and improves his/her career prospects and earning potential.

However, some of the cons associated with the same include its time-consuming nature along with the risk of people judging the individual and certain individuals, in certain cases, maybe managers and peers feeling threatened.

“In my case, I don’t take up personal branding as a particular area of focus because I started off with soft branding for my company and narrated stories about what and how we were doing and the benefits of engaging with us as partners. Keeping it real and human really helps build trust with others,” she said.

Duolingo English Test’s Kapur also shared the viewpoint that the core benefit of personal branding is creating a bigger network and if one can do this correctly, he/she will be able to develop a strong network with people and organisations that could create a impactful relationships and partnerships for the company they work at.

“Ever since I joined the Duolingo English Test, I have been able to expand my understanding of the EdTech sector thanks to events I have been invited to, or from perspectives of others in this industry. I have had agencies, platforms and influencers reach out directly with ideas and partnership opportunities, and engage with students directly which has helped me understand their perspectives on our product. All of this has helped me upskill very quickly when I shifted from entertainment marketing to EdTech,” she pointed out.

Similarly, Veera’s Kayalakal also highlighted that since he, in his most recent role is building a brand from scratch, has been fortunate to use the audience that he currently has on LinkedIn to shine a spotlight on what the brand is attempting to do, and find willing partners, consumers and sometimes just supporters.

“It allows me to have a dialogue with this audience and provides more instant feedback than any research could which is why it’s less about ROI but really finding out what the ecosystem thinks, finding out who wants to get onboard and help, or just get some tips from people who have been on a similar journey before. The return is really getting inputs from a varied set of people,” he said.

With much being said, industry players also pointed out that what is necessary amidst building their personal brand and representing their workplace is ensuring that neither of the two overtakes the other and that a harmonious balance remains.

In fact, the primary endeavour, of Good Glamm Group’s Gill is to ensure that her personal brand resonates harmoniously with the identity of the Group. Being at the top of her game on this front, she also advised that fellow professionals aspiring to cultivate their personal brand, while simultaneously nurturing their company's image, should also identify their professional brand, be consistent, maintain a positive attitude, set boundaries, and collaborate with their company and do what naturally comes to them.

White Rivers Media’s Gandhi also suggested that to ensure alignment between one's personal brand and their work identity, one could use strategies such as using authentic communication on both digital and offline platforms, showing who they are beyond the business and participating in awards or programs.

On the other hand, Kotak Mahindra’s Marshan opined that when the individual is inextricably linked to the employer brand, the benefit of one rubs off on the other, which is why he chose to get active on social networking platforms from a personal angle only after he hung up his boots at Kotak.

“I have always believed that in case of conflict, the house rules because if my personal voice is divergent from my employer's voice, it is my responsibility to separate the two. While I have every right to express my individual opinion that builds my unique brand, I owe it to my employer that I don't jeopardize their stature or the brand's positioning in any way by doing so,” he said.

He then went on to add that as an individual, it is he who should choose platforms where only his personal identity is at play, ideally. Needless to say, this is super difficult to achieve because at leadership levels in most places, the individual is pretty well known and the discerning reader can easily divine the connection.

Shrenik Gandhi Adityan Kayalakal Rubeena Singh Personal branding workplace corporate identity impact of personal branding Priyanka Gill Karthi Marshan Tara Kapur