The difference between a personal and professional brand seems obvious, right? One centers on you as a human, and the other is all about the services you provide or the products you sell.

But do you know why they’re both important to growing your small business?

If you want to really connect with your customers, to build a solid relationship that lasts, they need to be able to relate to both you and your business, not just one or the other. Your professional brand should tell people what to expect when they book with you, and your personal brand should showcase the skills and passion you bring to the table.

If your personal brand doesn’t match your business brand, it’s possible that neither one will resonate.

A Personal Brand Development Plan

Because your personal brand is, well, personal, you should be passionate about building it into something that truly reflects who you are. Consider these tips as you’re working out how to determine your personal brand:

1. Go knocking for opportunity.

Building a personal brand is one instance when you can’t just wait for someone else to provide a chance to prove yourself. Pay close attention to the people in your circle: What are their goals? What obstacles are in their way? What qualities do you have that can help? Study your competition just as closely. Identify the qualities they lack or the services they aren’t providing that you could.

2. Find a village to help raise your brand. 

Once you find your opportunity, building a personal brand around it will require expanding your network. As you help those in your circle, find ways to connect with other peers and thought leaders you can help, or who can help you. Think about attending networking events, attending conferences, or even just engaging with your peers on social media. The more connections you establish, the more value you can provide in every interaction, and the more you can solidify your personal brand.

3. Keep growing and learning, always. 

Most of the value you provide to the people in your growing network will be limited by how much you know. Be more valuable by becoming more knowledgeable. Take online courses about specific subjects that affect your market. Alison offers classes on business, lifestyle, health, and more, and Coursera works with top-tier educators and organizations to provide free and paid classes and even degrees. You could also brainstorm with colleagues and mentors or sign up for off-site work events and networking opportunities.

How to Build Your Professional Brand

Building your professional brand is more about your company than yourself. Your audience here will be bigger and more diverse, but first impressions still matter. Your professional brand still has to resonate emotionally, so take these tips into account when developing it:

1. Nail down the best audiences. 

Instead of building up a personal network, your business’s audience will be a mix of groups and demographics. It will include customers, potential business partners and investors, and even potential employees for expansion down the road. Potential audience segments could include moms, college students, influencers, working professionals, homeowners, people who live in certain cities or neighborhoods — whatever best fits the services or products you sell. No matter what, you have to be clear and specific about every segment of your audience to know exactly how to speak to them personally.

2. Give your brand a purpose. 

To gain audience trust, you have to create a clear mission statement. Define the main purpose for your brand’s existence beyond just being “best in show,” so to speak. 

If you’re not sure how to get started, first consider the specific value you provide to customers. Then, add language that inspires customers. Finally, make sure your message is plausible and realistic. 

The way your brand improves customers’ lives and the community at large should be apparent in your logo, company tag line, and marketing materials. Your statement could be as simple as Redken’s “learn better, earn better, and live better.” 

3. Be your brand no matter what. 

The point of positioning your brand and its purpose so prominently is to separate it from every other brand in the same market. This is especially important as you learn from and are influenced by other peers, mentors, and thought leaders. Stick to your purpose and mission statement, even as your professional brand grows and expands.

Brand recognition is the crux of any good marketing campaign no matter what industry you’re in. However, don’t forget that building a personal brand is just as important as building your professional brand. Growing the two in tandem will benefit your business infinitely in the long run.