Jack Burke


Leveraging Company Leaders’ Personal Brands for Marketing

The personal brand of a company leader can be a powerful asset for any business, capable of shaping public perception, attracting top talent, driving business growth, and guiding your marketing efforts. As customers of both B2C and B2B enterprises continue to place more value on “who” they do business with rather than focusing solely on the product or service, leadership’s role in company branding will continue to rise.

Let’s first work through the principal reasons why company leaders should prioritize the development and nurturing of their personal brands. Then, we’ll provide a simple framework for defining and delivering your personal brand story.

Establish authority and credibility for your company’s brand

To understand how greatly the public’s perception of a company is swayed by its leaders, imagine for a second what happens when the president or CEO of a company finds themselves in the middle of bad press.

The negative impact is almost instantaneous. Resulting in lost sales, lost customers, and a black mark on the company’s brand that can take years to scrub away.

Now, imagine what would happen if we threw this phenomenon into reverse. It’s only logical that positive personal branding yields positive results for the business.

And the explanation for this is simple. When customers trust the leader, they are more likely to trust the brand. Regardless of the product, industry or business type.

By establishing leadership as industry experts and innovative thought-leaders, your target audience will begin to view your products and services in a more positive light – even in scenarios where the connection between top leaders and the end user experience is loose at best.

Enhance brand visibility

While few company leaders will ever become household names to the likes of Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Warren Buffet or Vera Wang, the same concept that allows the most well-known business leaders to leverage their fame into branding success can work for you, too.

A company’s brand is inexorably linked to the personal brand of its leaders. As your personal brand expands, the visibility and recognition of the company you lead will naturally be elevated as well.

Through carefully curated content, speaking engagements, media participation, and attendance at networking events, leaders can increase company exposure by amplifying the reach of their personal brand.

Connect authentically with consumers

Cultivating a personal brand allows company leaders to embrace authenticity when interacting with customers, partners, investors, employees and other stakeholders. Where it can be difficult for a corporate brand to generate genuine human connection, an individual can easily resonate with the company’s target audience on a personal, relatable level. 

By sharing their personal story, values, and experiences, leaders are able to build deeper connections than are possible with company branding alone.

Attract top talent and drive employee engagement

Everyone wants to work for a great leader – especially high performers.

A strong personal brand can be a powerful recruiting tool for inspiring top talent to join your team and solidifying the values and culture that make your company unique. In today’s competitive labor market, driven professionals seek more than competitive compensation packages. They want to work for leaders who align with their own aspirations, principles and goals.

Employees who are proud to be associated with their leaders’ brand stories are more motivated and committed to their work.

Navigate crises and challenges

All companies face adversity at different stages in their business journey. Whether the roadblocks are created internally or exist outside the company’s control, a leader with a compelling personal brand can leverage positive public perception to steer the ship through difficult waters.

It’s easier to accept an apology from a company whose leader is in good standing with the community. Customers will stick with a brand led with integrity, even through trying times.

Drawing the roadmap for your personal brand

The executive branding process isn’t all that different from how a company develops a marketing strategy. You must define what your message is, determine your audience, share your message, track the results, and then reassess and iterate.

There are several popular frameworks to choose from for beginning the process of developing and nurturing a personal brand.

  • The Four Cs: Clarity surrounding who you are and what you stand for. Consistency in representing these values and attributes. Content that reinforces your brand. Communication to build relationships and authentically convey your brand.
  • The Seven Pillars: Purpose, values, clarity, strengths, energy, legacy and ownership.
  • Storytelling: A narrative-driven approach covers who you are, what you have overcome, and how your goals drive you. It includes your mission and explains to your audience how they can benefit from your story.

Regardless of the framework you choose, implementing a personal branding strategy requires a practical, step-by-step approach, including concrete actions that build credibility and convert your personal brand from an abstract concept into a living, breathing entity.

Here is a high-level outline for how to accomplish just that:

    1. Self-assessment and reflection: While your personal brand and company brand should cohabitate and work together, be careful to cultivate an accurate personal brand based on your unique strengths, weaknesses, passions and goals. DO NOT build your personal brand as a carbon copy of your company’s brand but do identify parallels to target.
    2. Craft a personal mission statement: Define who you are, what you stand for, and what you aim to achieve.
    3. Identify your target audience.
    4. Define your personal Unique Value Proposition.
    5. Choose branding elements: Just as your company’s brand book includes a logo, typography guidelines and other rules, a strong personal branding strategy should include similar elements. Something as simple as consistently sending out written communication using the same font can yield surprising results in terms of personal brand recognition.
    6. Engage and network, both off- and online.
    7. Monitor your brand: Whether you use an Online Reputation Management (ORM) tool or your own system for tracking your personal brand, protecting and improving your branding efforts is a long-term process that involves seeing what works, seeking feedback, and reinventing your branding strategy based on what you learn along the way.

Overlook personal branding for company leadership at your own risk

Failing to see the value of integrating company leaders’ personal brands into your overarching branding strategy puts your business at a competitive disadvantage versus competitors that do. Business owners and executives who do not plan to seek new job opportunities often feel that personal branding is not necessary – but the benefits are just as valuable for the company as a whole as they are to your personal career growth.

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