CEO Brand Tools that Unlock Opportunity and Demand Results
Many CEOs and other corporate executives believe that their reputation is largely dependent upon the company they represent. The fact is that executives who actively work on promoting their own personal brand can also elevate the public’s opinion of their companies. A study by Weber Shandwick¹ revealed that reputation accounts for 63% of a company’s market value and that CEO visibility is core to reputation building and ultimately, greater market value. Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Jack Dorsey have built wildly successful companies, yet behind its success was a consistent personal brand built to achieve top influencer status. The question is how can executives improve their CEO brand?
Have a Plan
The first step to building an effective CEO brand is to create an effective plan to do so. Executives need to establish exactly what they will stand for and how they will present themselves in their writing and on the corporate website. They should ensure that their goals and aspirations closely match those of the organization and then follow through with their online presence. An effective CEO plan should incorporate the following:
Values -Values drive the decisions and actions that CEOs make in both their personal and professional lives. Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock often pens annual letters to the CEOs of its clients that focus on driving home the importance of global issues, such as climate change, inclusive capitalism and transparency².
Passions – This reflects what executives feel strongly about and what they want to work towards. Passions point to where executives want to be, both personally and professionally. Elon Musk’s passion, for instance, is for transforming the future of how we travel, whether it’s a new Tesla automobile or SpaceX launching rockets into orbit to discover new frontiers. We know his passion lies in exploration.
Behaviors – An executive’s personality and personal qualities make him or her unique. Such factors as persuasion, storytelling, or other specific talents come into play here. For example, Donna Carpenter, CEO of Burton believes in the power of telling stories as a way to impact change and also as a way to understand them. She’s helped transform Burton to include a management team of 50% women after living and breathing the importance of gender equality during her tenure.
It’s funny in that with the early days of social media not too many CEOs were going out in the public domain sharing their passions and stories. It’s amazing to see how much the world has changed since – 48% of CEOs in the S&P 500 have some form of social media presence³. The first step that any executive can take is to create professional profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube with the same profile name, tone and diction across all platforms. As a digital marketing firm, KCD PR is constantly working with our clients to build and improve upon a company’s digital media footprint. Having the CEO’s personal brand act as a leading voice on social can pay tremendous dividends for the company brand over time. There’s also some marketing science behind this as a regular, active presence on social media can improve SEO rankings and ensure quality, the first page results in search engines such as Google.
Expand the Sphere of Influence
Although it is a vital cog in the process, a social media presence is not enough to build a brand. Executives must also network with contacts in their field and executives in other industries to increase their sphere of influence. This approach can help executives build credibility and can lead to new opportunities such as speaking engagements, media interviews, or potential collaboration opportunities.
Keep The “About Us” Page Updated
Many internet searchers will read a company’s “about” page before reading anything else. This page should have all of your latest bio information, including updated headshots, accomplishments, awards, interviews and other similar items. Clients and customers will feel more comfortable with a company when they know something about its CEO and leadership team. This section of the corporate website should especially embrace the mission and values of the company and demonstrate how the executive’s accomplishments align with them.
If you’re serious about building an infectious personal brand, you will need to maintain a constant online presence in multiple mediums and channels.
Write, Write, Write
Any executive worth his or her salt should have a personal blog or a collection of written articles featured on the corporate website regularly. Blogs, bylines, and white papers are all par for the course for an executive looking to build his or her personal CEO brand. As with the “About us” or “Company” section of the website, these items can foster trust among readers and potential customers while enhancing the executive’s credibility. Even regular tweets on Twitter can get the executive’s voice out to the public and improve visibility. Commentary on industry trends or breaking news is also effective in infusing the executive’s company with their personality. Lastly, writing a book can also be the capstone of a CEO brand – to add to your legacy as a CEO. There have been some great books written by CEOs past and present that have catapulted speaking careers and given corporations a leg up in their respective industries.
Offer Something Tangible
Executives who really want their online presence to stand out should be able to provide something tangible that readers can’t get elsewhere. Commentary or industry news that isn’t likely to appear in mainstream media sources, for example, can provide a vital element of value for the reader that can’t be easily duplicated. Readers should ideally feel like they have been effectively served value in some capacity by the time they finish reading your material. The greater the value, the more loyal that reader becomes to your CEO brand.
Nurture and Tend to Your CEO Brand
A regular flow of new material (preferably material that readers can’t get elsewhere) should be coming from any executive intent on building his or her personal brand. Online material becomes dated very quickly in today’s world, so executives must keep making fresh contributions in order to keep up with the changing trends and factors in their respective industries. Repeat exposure online is the name of the game – press coverage, contributed articles and social media videos can all play a vital role in this. Of course, leading a disruptive company and focusing on areas or pain points that the organization solves is another way to stay very relevant in the eyes of your target audience.
If you’re serious about building an infectious personal brand, you will need to maintain a constant online presence in multiple mediums and channels. Utilizing CEO brand social platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Facebook are great areas to start, but it doesn’t stop there. Those who provide valuable content and unique points of view that impact the reader will be best suited to achieve enviable exposure and results.