Including YOU in your branding strategy is imperative now more than ever

If you're still operating under the belief that you should keep business and personal completely separate you're doing your business a big disservice.

If you are a small business owner or entrepreneur, your brand is Y O U. People are purchasing products or services not just based off the end result, but off the experience they will undergo to get there.

In a world where there are so many businesses and competition is fierce, creating a brand around the uniqueness that is you, will set your business above & apart from the competition...a major cornerstone of great branding.

Even if you're buying a product, knowing the work that went into creating it and a bit about the person you bought it from will connect you with the business. Including Y-O-U in your business makes doing business way less cold and transactional and way more personal. This is the stuff brand loyalty is made of.

If you're thinking, "but...all of the big business don't really do this. I might be a small business now but what if I'm Patagonia or Anthropologie level one day? Won't I regret adding this personal stuff?"

Big businesses weren't always big, friend. Let's use the outdoor clothing and equipment company, Patagonia as our example. Patagonia was founded by a man named Yvon Chouinard who was an avid outdoorsman, rock climber, and conservationist. He founded Patagonia based off his own personal passions, interest, and stories about his time in the outdoors. The company itself started out as his own response to his personal needs and the needs of his climbing friends. It's easy to think that big business don't share the personal. But more often than not, big businesses became big because they were able to form personal bonds with their audiences, understand their needs deeply, and deliver solutions based on these needs, values, and beliefs.

Chouinard might not be the household name that Patagonia is, but his deep love of the outdoors and desire to help other people enjoy it fully is still the foundation of the Patagonia brand.

We are naturally social beings, so giving your audience pieces of fun information about yourself that shows your light and lovely personality? That'll take your business to entirely new heights, my friend. I suggest choosing three pillars/topics/categories about personal aspects of your life or personality that you'd like to make it a point to share more. This allows you to stay focused in what you share and will ultimately allow you to incorporate these aspects into your brand.

If you still don't believe me & are thinking keeping business and personal 100% separate is the way to go, I urge you to look at your own social media habits. Do you connect most with the businesses that share only information about their products and services, never post a video introducing themselves or showcasing behind-the-scenes, and adopt the "business only" mentality?

Or do you prefer to follow accounts that have a consistent visual presence, make their offerings extraordinarily clear and add a touch of the personal, fun stuff to keep you engaged?

I guarantee the latter is a more effective method.

Check out @jennakutcher and @amyporterfield on Instagram for two business-gurus (with multi-millionaire dollar incomes) who preach on this topic. Incorporating yourself into your business does not (and should not) have to be unprofessional, off-brand, or random.

Instead, it should serve to connect you with your dream clients and form a bond with others...even if only virtually.

Choose aspects of yourself that you'd like to share and add them throughout your social media feeds and the "About" page on your website. I promise you (and your customers) will be happy you did.

Blog cover: Racheal Provencher, @rprophoto