As you begin to learn more about how to be a successful player in the realm of online business, you are undoubtedly going to hear a lot about branding. To explain what a brand is, what it does, how it’s built up and how incredibly fragile it is, just look at a large corporation like McDonald’s. That name alone—that brand—says everything you need to know about the importance of a brand. However, that’s strictly a business brand; it’s not a personal brand.

When you’re getting into the makeup of a personal brand, you’re dealing with a different monster entirely. For the difference between a company brand and a professional brand, you can look at the difference between Bill Gates and Microsoft. One may assume that the brands are interchangeable, because they tie in together, but they’re actually completely different. Mr. Gates’ personal brand, while it has benefited Microsoft in numerous ways, is a wholly separate entity.

His personality, his solo campaigning, his likes and dislikes, his opinions on things – you can liken this to what your personal presence may be online. As you might imagine,having a personal brand can either help your business or act as detrimental to your business. But as long as you’re branding correctly, the two, though separate, will be intertwined.

Personal branding, as a solo entrepreneur, is a great way to relate directly to customers without having to live behind of a company brand. A personal brand in this social context appears to be very authentic. Because there is so much competition online, people almost demand to know who they’re buying from. This is where a personal brand can set you apart. Obviously, your business brand will still be influential and important, but it’s your personal brand that will humanize you and endear you to the social world at large.

The biggest difference to focus on in the branding is certainly the authenticity of the personal brand. For example, you may decide to branch out with your business ventures. A business may fail. You may join forces or completely abandon an idea. In these instances, your business brand is flexible and changeable. Your personal brand, on the other hand, is the one common denominator. As long as your name is associated with anything, your personal brand is on the line.

To put it another way, a business you’re associated with can have its faults and the fallout may not necessarily affect your personal brand. But if your personal brand becomes tarnished, anything you’re associated with is going to suffer.

For branding purposes, it’s always important to stay as professional as possible. You never want anyone to poke their head completely behind the curtain. Your personal life and your political leanings, religion, etc, need to stay separate. What you’re looking to do is to incorporate a real personality in your social media presence, with your business ventures, and with every move you make in business. Your personal brand is the best that you and your business has to offer, but it comes across in a “from me to you” sense, rather than being presented from a platform that’s all business.