By Nikki Carlson, co-founder/co-president of ChicExecs Retail and Strategy Firm. She has over 21 years of experience in PR/marketing.
Your business might have a brand already, but do you have a brand? Whether they like it or not, every CEO has a personal brand that transcends their business. Personal branding is the reason why CEOs like Elon Musk and Steve Jobs have such a hold on the public — they created an enduring brand not just for their businesses, but for themselves.
As a leader, you have to curate an intentional brand for yourself. Every CEO quietly builds a personal brand of their own over time, but you have to gain control over your branding. Otherwise, you risk turning off your customers and losing authority with off-brand missteps.
Sure, certifications and industry experience matter, but how you make people feel is just as important. You need to intentionally curate a personal brand as a CEO so you can actually get results from your brand.
Not sure how to brand yourself? Follow these five tips to create the perfect personal brand as a CEO.
1. Know your audience.
While your personality and beliefs should definitely fit into your personal brand, you have to remember that your friends and family aren’t the audience here. As a CEO, you need to consider your business’s audience.
Who’s listening to you? What do you want these people to think when they see you? What platforms are they on?
Your audience has a big impact on how your personal brand is received, so always create a brand based on customer personas. Otherwise, you risk creating an irrelevant personal brand that doesn’t have an impact on your business.
2. Tie in your personal values.
You’re a CEO, but you’re still human! Your personal beliefs should have an impact on your professional brand. Your values are your strongly-held beliefs that are the backbone of who you are — whether you’re at home or in the boardroom.
For example, if your faith is important to you, that can tie into your brand as a CEO. If you’re ruthlessly committed to perfection, that can count as a personal value, too.
Everyone’s values are different, but the key is to pick three to five values that you identify with. Make sure your finalized brand guidelines touch on all of these values so you create an authentic personal brand that you can be true to.
3. Lean into your expertise and experience.
Every CEO is an expert in their field. As a leader, your personal brand should cater to your niche experience and expertise in your industry.
What are you an expert in? What information or experience can you share with people who are new to the field? What are you passionate about?
Your personal brand as a CEO should make it super obvious what your specialties are.
4. Don’t forget your differentiators.
Nobody wants to read another generic, “blah” CEO bio. Every CEO cares about teamwork, customer experience and growth. How are you different? What makes you memorable? Why are you a visionary leader?
It might feel scary, but you can build up your personal brand and differentiate yourself by having an outspoken opinion. Love them or hate them, CEOs like Bill Ackman and Larry Ellison quickly made themselves known by sharing their opinions.
You can definitely burn bridges if you go on an all-out tirade about your industry, but if you do it carefully, drawing a line in the sand can differentiate you as a leader. When done well, differentiation is a great way to make your brand stand out in a sea of gray corporate jargon.
5. Spread the word — consistently.
Consistency is the name of the game with branding. Once you create a personal brand framework, stick to it! If you want consumers to trust you, you need to show that you’re reliable, stable and trustworthy.
Branding is something you need to keep up with overtime. One press release won’t create a brand overnight — it’s a constant for the duration of not only your time with a company but your career.
Make sure you’re regularly writing blogs, speaking at conferences, recording podcasts and posting on social media to share your expertise while building your brand. With dedication and consistency, you’ll build a trusted name in your niche over time.
The Bottom Line
Emotion is key in the world of branding and PR, and a personal brand can help you tap into consumers’ emotions. These five steps will help you make something as intangible as a CEO brand into something tangible and actionable. When done well, CEO branding will make you memorable, trustworthy and downright likable in your industry. Be sure to partner with a trusted PR firm to create a bulletproof personal brand that shows your best side to the world.
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