Double Your Pleasure, Double Your Funds with Dual Branding

The broke girl's guide to branding | KOTAW Content MarketingAre you a box of Cheerios or a bag of toasted o’s? A bright yellow box of expertly branded goodness that commands that coveted eye-level spot on grocery store counters or an undistinguished container of brown cereal that no one would want if it weren’t 30 percent cheaper?

When ambitious CEOs build their brands, on their own or with the help of a personal branding coach, they have Cheerios-level aspirations. They want the perceived and actual value that comes with name-brand recognition. Less ambitious or more timid entrepreneurs aim no higher than mid-shelf level. They don’t want to take the risk of standing out in unmistakable and sometimes unforgiving ways. And, as they aptly point out, there are plenty of customers who don’t care about packaging — they just want an OK cereal — or widget or whatever — at an OK price.

Avoid the Double Bind with Dual Branding

So, what’s the smarter, more profitable personal branding choice? To be the Cheerios, Coke or Campbell’s of your profession? Or to be just another cereal, soft drink or soup?

My answer? Double-brand yourself as both world-class and generic. Create two distinct — and entirely separate — personal brands.

Here’s why:

It takes a long time and an extraordinary amount of effort to achieve name-brand recognition, to become the coveted, respected, go-to person in your field or profession. And, unless you’re supernaturally talented, incredibly lucky or a trust fund baby, you’ll probably find money standing in the way of your rise to the top of the shelf.

It’s one thing to put a $200-an-hour price on your personal brand. It’s quite another to get people to pay you that much before next month’s rent and car payment come due. There’s almost certainly going to come a point when someone is going to ask you to work for $10 or $20 an hour or to sell your product for less than it cost to produce it.

Don’t Let Finances Kill Your Brand

Say no to the cheapskates’ demands and you’ll preserve your brand integrity. But what good does the high-price image do you if you end up sleeping on an old boyfriend’s couch or riding a bike to the office?

This is the point at which most personal branding efforts die. Reality forces you to work or sell cheap. And, the minute you do, you harm your brand. Somehow, some way, people find out that you’re a penny-a-word writer or a cash-strapped store owner and they — and their friends and their friends’ friends — expect you to offer steep discounts all the time. And, after a while, they stop thinking of your price as a discount and start thinking of it as the going rate. And they’ll ask you to drop your price even more.

To protect your brand, create more than one professional identity. When you want to build your personal brand, offer your services as Elizabeth Star, bestselling author and founder of Star Bright Consulting, an international financial services firm. Call yourself Liz Star, freelance financial consultant, when you want to pay your utility bills.

Let Elizabeth Star take meetings with Fortune 500 company executives and let Liz Star sell her services on Elance or her self-published books on Goodreads.

There’s nothing deceptive or dishonest about this. A lot of people own more than one business. You can own more than one personal brand. You promote one heavily and mostly ignore the other. As a practical matter, double branding is no different than a doctor offering a sliding fee scale for indigent clients or a retailer holding a half-off sale.

Be Fab, Not Drab

As a personal branding strategy, the dual identity approach is brilliant. Because cereal in a primary-colored box really is worth more than cereal in a plain plastic bag. If you believe you’re worth more than your generic peers, keep the discounted version of you an off-label secret and put all the snap, crackle and pop you can into your top-shelf persona.

Have you dabbled in dual branding? How have you overcome the financial strain that often comes with following entrepreneurial dreams? Please share your stories in the comments section below.

This article was originally published on She Owns It.

Photo Credit: Ashley Ella Design


  1. I am thrilled to read what you write. The keyword in those eight words is “you” Katherine but offering up that those eight words I just wrote applies to the everyone “you” also. I have seen plenty of successes and the key that I have observed has been you. That’s the everybody you. I recognize the value in listening to positive influencers, see the wisdom in adapting a dual branding strategy and more importantly want to emphasize the personal branding message that you write what you want to write about, you set your pricing to the levels that work for you and you make your business work. That’s just me saying stuff I believe in …and you are not me …but you may be like me I don’t know

    • Katherine Kotaw says:

      I absolutely agree, Brian. The “you” is the key to success and, unless you define it on your own terms (from branding to pricing and everything in between) success will elude you.

      So I’m not you, but like you. :)

  2. Brian J Wood says:

    You rock. The is a “U” in business. You

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