Jerimiah Owyang posted a new article on Personal Brands. In it, he talks about how some companies fear personal brands because the people might get recruited once they develop themselves. Jeremiah details how companies respond to this risk - by either rejecting it outright or by embracing it. My guess is that the companies that reject it are the same companies who are also reject the social media explosion.
I think the concept of personal brands started with Tom Peters' article in Fast Company "The Brand Called You". Tom says that people are being branded all the time by others - by what they wear, where they go, etc. People need to take charge of their brand, to view themselves as CEO of "Me, Inc." and to make sure that their branding takes them where they want to be.
If employees actually follow this advice, they are likely to be happier and more productive. Not only that, but they are likely to create new innovations in an effort to improve themselves. Building a brand takes hard work, and employers can offer their employees opportunities to reach their goals inside the company. Companies that do this are likely to reap the benefits of their employee's new skills and retain these employees longer.
The benefits of personal brands are shown by the teams of the NBA. Why do kids love a particular team? Because of the players with the big brands. They buy their jerseys and autographs, discuss the players with their friends, and attend games or watch them on TV. All of these actions benefit the team. Personal Brands rub off on the company that has them.